Car maintainance for the mechanically vague

Through years of determined disinterest and bodging, I have garnered some essential facts about keeping cars on the road.  This isn’t a ‘girls don’t know about cars, isn’t that cute and funny?’ type post, merely an observation that some people nod seriously when others discuss head gaskets, other people giggle and make up their own jokes when others discuss head gaskets.  I think we can all guess which category I fall into.

So as I’m all about the sharing of wisdom and innuendo (one much more than the other), have some mechanical know how on me:

– If there is any kind of disturbing rattle type of noise coming from the car, simply turn the radio up until you can’t hear it.  Hey presto, noise is no longer disturbing.


– If you need to check the levels of things under your bonnet such as oil, water and pixie dust (my mechanic assures me that this is vital for the smooth running of my vehicle), simply locate the little lever that makes a delightful poppy, clunky sort of sound and pull it.  This is not the same lever as the one that makes the seat go back and forward.  Learning this saved me many hours of frustration and back pain.  Also, bonnets should never be opened with a can opener.  Seriously.

Anyway, the non seat lever performs a magic trick that allows the bonnet to be lifted and secured with a stick.  I don’t know who thought a stick was a good way of supporting a weighty sheet of metal that you are about to put your head underneath but presumably that just demonstrates my total lack of automobilic IQ.

So once you have the stick in place you simply stand and wait.  The newly exposed car techy parts release a pheromone like odour that will attract all the people in the area who know what a head gasket is (and several that don’t but think that they will appear macho and knowledgeable, or have got fed up with daytime tv, or want to know how to do the bonnet trick without ending up attempting to drive from the back seats).  These people will stare intently into your inner workings like a gynaecologist with a brand new speculum (I knew that ‘word of the day’ toilet paper would pay dividends) and eventually one of them will stop sniggering at the word ‘dipstick’ long enough to identify the vital fluid required for motoring merriment.


– Pimping your ride is totally not what you might reasonably expect it to be.  Let’s never speak of this again (also it was part of my plea bargain not to)


Actually, I think that might be it.  Perhaps my mechanical insights are not the way to fortune and fame after all.  Still, at least I know that my pixie dust comes all the way up to the tappets





How I nearly became the most awesome pirate in the west

So back in the days when I worked for social services I’d been thinking long and hard about my next career move and come to the conclusion that I would be better off as a prostitute as I’d be better paid and get screwed less often.  Then it dawned on me that I could combine my love of shiny things with my love of digging big holes and become a pirate!  Sure, the hours are long and the hygiene dubious and also rum makes me sick, oh and I’m a bit scared of birds and am moderately fond of all of my limbs………but hey, I’d be a fucking pirate and that would be enough awesome for anyone surely.

The obvious flaw in this (other than the ones previously mentioned and a shit tonne of others),  was my lack of a suitable seafaring vessel.  I couldn’t very well become the most feared pirate in all the seven seas with nothing but an inflatable rubber ring with a horsey head on it.  Not even if I put an eyepatch on the horsey. What I needed was something, bigger, faster, classier and piratey-er (totally a word, see if you can think of a better one).

Well it turns out that most naval vessels are a really dull, undercoaty shade of grey like someone started to paint them up like killer whales or Cthulu and then got told that “that’s not how we do things in the British armed forces young lady” (in future posts – how I became barred from ever becoming a member of the serving forces in any country, under any circumstances and even if I apologised).

So anyway, this got me to thinking about my ideal craft.  I was thinking rigging, lots of cannons, mainbraces and crows nests (admittedly I have no actual clue what a mainbrace is but I damn well wanted one).  Really there was only obvious choice in terms of style, sheer audacity and being a pirate legend right from the start – I had to steal HMS Victory from the dockyards in Portsmouth!

Now you would think that would be a  pretty straightforward endeavour but it turns out that these navy fellas aren’t so very keen on actually doing any real sailing.  It’s all boats with shiny buttons that make it go, and prolly some sort of remote control function so they can play with it without getting seasick, and not a single mainbrace to be had among the lot of ’em.  The long and short of this sorry state of affairs is that my spangly new boat was not actually in the water at all but was sitting in a dry dock with holes drilled through it’s bottom.  Let’s face it, we’ve all been there and it’s not pleasant.

I will be the first to admit that I’m no nautical expert but I’m pretty confident that one of the main features you want for a life on the ocean waves (other than big, fuck off cannons) is the ability to float.  Bobbing along the briny rarely goes well in a craft that has neither buoyancy nor bob about it.

Not to be disheartened however, I set about creating master plan for the liberation of my much abused ship.  Clearly what I needed was something that floats and floats effectively.  We all know that when it comes to floating powers, it’s a well established fact (which was on Monty Python so must be true) what you need is either witches or ducks.

Now, I know a fair few witches and they’ve never struck me as being especially floaty.  In fact with all the silver occulty jewellery and millions of layers of wispy fabric which beswathes them, they are positively hazardous when it comes to aquatic pursuits.  Besides it makes their mascara run.  I obviously know the wrong sort of witches for buccaneering.

So that left me with ducks as a simple, elegant and potentially tasty solution.  All I needed to do was acquire the ducks and then smuggle them unnoticed into a dockyard full of armed Naval personnel.  Now this posed a bit of a challenge as ducks are not known for their fighting skills which meant distraction was my weapon of choice. So I thinks to myself ‘what would provide ample distraction for salty seadog types?’

It was obvious really- what do sailors like best in the world?  Prostitutes, rum and a good old fashioned fight of course!  Good thing I’d listened to all those 80 verse long folk songs to get myself an education about what goes on down the dockyards when they come home from shore leave.

So the plan seemed simple, disguise the ducks as prostitutes, arm them with hipflasks of gut rotter rum and send them in.  The sailors would either be exhausted, unconscious or fight each other to the death for a glimpse of fishnet clad duck leg in webbed stilettoes.  All I have to do, is creep in, fill the dock with water and attach my buoyancy ducks round the sides and head for the high seas and untold riches!

Yeah, it didn’t quite work out like that…………..let’s just say that ducks are not as seductive as you might think, even with feather boas and lipstick.  Furthermore they make bloody terrible crew members and not a single one of the buggers knew how to swash a buckle, let alone the finer points of mainbrace splicing.

Sometimes I fear my genius is wasted