Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 31 January 2011

And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin

The day of the new car.

First the old car must be purged. No problem remembering the satnav or the bags of dried apricots in my door pocket. But how about sunglasses hidden in a trapdoor in the roof or the £1 and €1 coins kept for trolley hire at Sainsbury and Super U respectively. Plus those spare bulbs the French government insists I carry. What I almost missed were seat-belt pads to protect the breasts and shoulders of women using the back seats.

It’s a nice trip. The Ross-on-Wye road for eight miles, then a detour stopping short of Symonds Yat where the Wye wends past a heart-stopping cliff overlooked by a pair of nesting peregrines. To Monmouth with its statue of Henry V, across the Wye, swing left from the Chepstow road (possibly the most beautiful in Britain, hugging the Wye and skirting Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey) and on through the Forest of Dean where yellow tape round tree trunks signals protest against the Tories’ plan to sell off the woodlands.

To Cinderford which matches its name but is redeemed by the brisk good humour of the woman receptionist at Winner Garages. Our new car, the same make and model as its predecessor, stands out on the forecourt, not being caked with frost. In four years minor design faults (especially the computer display) have been tweaked and the new bolide feels taut and eager.

NEW NOVEL Should I record the miniscule progress? Yesterday, weaving in recent research meant a para and a half (say about 150 words) took nearly two hours. Why? Research should look casual, throwaway, unsweated.


herhimnbryn said...

That road trip paragraph has made me homesick!

DuchessOmnium said...

Oh, you make me a little sad! I was (it seems to me now, at least) a young woman when I last had a new car, 15 years ago.

As for the novel, I am sure you are right that research needs to look easy and throw away -- and that kind of casual doesn't come easy. Nevertheless, there isn't a lot more gratifying than happy tinkering with an almost finished bit of prose.

So, double congratulations. New wheels, new novel.

Avus said...

A lovely trip along the Wye Valley and into Gloucestershire, BB. I can understand HHnB's heimweh.(Western Oz must be somewhat arid with current temperatures in the lower 40s C)
"06" to "60" a smart new Skoda (my wife has had 4 of them, but not all at once). Now why did I think you were a Lexus man?
My SAAB is getting long in the tooth (02) and must be changed soon. I love it - the most comfortable car I have owned. However the financial climate and personal finances dictate something cheaper with lower overheads. An inevitable change that I am reluctant to make.

20th Century Woman said...

Ah, the stuff that inhabits cars: cough drops, old bread to feed the sea gull at the ferry landing, flashlights (torch that is) maps. Jerry almost always carries matches in his car -- except for the one time we really needed them.

I have just traveled thousands of miles with my son in his car, and I don't even want to think about what could have been found in that one -- if I had dared to look.

Barrett Bonden said...

HHB: In fact memories of the Chepstow road - the road not taken in this case - are likely to make anyone homesick. But then there's Blue Dog.

DO: You have made enormous sacrifices by opting for this side of the pond. Can you remember new cars in the US with the list of options stickered to one of the windows as a means of making the neighbours jealous.

As to the novel, I have to say I'd read your comment before I had my Damascene moment described in the more recent post, As to tinkering, bringing it to a halt is the problem.

Avus: I had three Lexuses as a result of becoming disenchanted with German cars (BMW, Audi and various VWs). I gave up the Lexuses when the prices rose beyond my capacity and when I abruptly decided that manual gear-changing was a young man's game. Despite going auto I still can and do change gears (six of them) manually because I have DSG which everyone should try once. The Skoda meets every requirement I have, including fuel consumption - 54 mpg for a turbocharged two litre diesel. That's why I bought another.

20CW: I was only talking about the stuff I wanted to retain. There was of course rubbish which I was pleased to hand on to the garage taking my car in part-exchange. A small plastic goose, discarded by four-year-old grandson Zach, I was unable to discard.

Julia said...

Nice choice of cars. They really do drive very well.

Just to give your car a little history - it was most likely built in Mlada Boleslav, an hour north of Prague. In the summers when we head to the mountains for cool weather, it is almost always to the mountain village favored by the Skoda workers. There's a large chata down the road from where we stay which used to be owned by Skoda and shared out to its employees for skiing. It's very cozy looking, with dark wood siding, standing in the middle of a very beautiful hillside.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: I think the Skoda workforce may have been doing rather too much relaxing recently. That particular car the 2 litre Octavia Elegante TDI DSG is made only in CZ and I ordered it in August last year. Time went by and I started getting worried: for one thing I had an agreed price on my trade-in Octavia and that was clearly depreciating, for another our new Tory coalition was intending to raise VAT from 17½% to 20% in January. As it turned out, the deal went through without a financial hitch but it seems Skoda is the victim of its own success and many people (notably taxi drivers in Hereford) have latched on to the value offered: VW quality control at much-lower-than-VW prices. But it was remarkable that, at a time when other manufacturers were having difficulty shifting their wares, Skoda's assembly were lagging behind demand.

Julia said...

Sorry to hear about the delay! I can confirm that it was probably not caused by excess skiing :-) as Skoda has actively increased its production to meet demand. That's a relief as they had cut back on shifts a year back and they are one of the bigger employers in the country.