Sunday, 25 April 2010

hit it with the brolly

St George's Day found us driving north out of Bristol just as fast as we could go, after school, to avoid the worst of the traffic. Which didn't stop us collecting pasties from Joe's Bakery. Or fizzy drinks from the Tesco petrol station. And bickering over sweets.

"You didn't give me chance to choose sweets"
"You had plenty of time while I was putting in the petrol"
"You've got Pringles. It's not fair"
"There, take this and go and get some sweets"
"No, you'll only be angry about it"
"No I won't, go and get some sweets, I will not be angry about it, I want you to get some sweets"
"No, lets's go"

..and so on.

There was a bloke with a beer belly and a state of partial undress (for the sun was shining) sitting outside a bar on the Gloucester Road, drinking his lager and resplendent in his deelyboppers with St George's flags on. Sort of like an oven ready reindeer, but different.

I gawped, and thought, "Ah! St George's Day!"

The motorway verges were bright with patches of cowslips, and dandelions. Today is the traditional day for picking dandelions for making wine. I made a point of doing it on the right day, once, when I rode over Dundry Hill on my motorbike and picked a big bag of dandelion flowers. My fingers were brown with the sap. It was a lovely day then, too, and it was evidently memorable as I am remembering it now.

I love this time of the year, when there is something fresh to admire every day; like on Wednesday when I was driving under an avenue of conker trees and it was like being in a green tunnel, with the light coming through the leaves, and I realised that the leaves had all burst out together. Or Thursday when the beech leaves had just come out too, and were a vivid light green. Every thing is happy-making, as we accelerate towards summer, but are still close enough to winter to be grateful for the quickening of the year.

Anyway. There we are bimbling up the M5, trundle trundle. Somewhere around Worcester, the engine falters. It picks up, falters again.

"The petrol pump needs thumping," I say; "Is there a stick in the back seat?"
"There's your umbrella, that'll do. Where do I hit it?"
"On the bulkhead, next to the immobiliser switch"


The engine picks up again, and we swing back out onto the slow lane from the hard shoulder.

By the time we're on the M42, it needs a thump every few seconds.

"They really ripped you off for this car"


"Yes, but it's a nice car, and there aren't many you can keep going with a brolly"


"There aren't many you need to keep going with a brolly"

At the service station, I clean up the points with a bit of sandpaper, and spray WD40 at the pump. It works.