Monday 17 October 2005


Well, the solar car battery charger arrived today and though it only needs to be plugged into the cigarette lighter, Mum got the part-time Warden at her apartment to help her fit it this afternoon.

She rang me this evening to tell me about it.

"I had to get D to help me practice with it."
"Practice what? You just plug it in and leave it, don't you?"
"No, it was jumping. I had to learn how to press it"
"I'm sorry, Mum, you've lost me. Press what? What are you talking about?"
"I've explained it already. The car was jumping. There's no other way to tell you."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Mum. Surely you just plug the charger into the lighter socket and leave it there. What was making the car jump?"
"I was trying to back the car out and it shot backwards when I pressed the accelerator"
"Where was your other foot, Mum?"
" er.... the clutch"
"Sounds to me like you need to practice your clutch control, Mum. This has nothing to do with the charger. Perhaps if you used the car more often....etc"

[sounds of consternation]

Friday 14 October 2005


"Happy Birthday, Mum!"
"Thank you, Dear. I'm just enjoying one of my chocolates. From the big box. The one's your brother-in-law sent me."
"Chocolates at 9 in the morning! How decadent. So, have you opened anything else?"
", yes, I'll open the other one"
[scuffles for about 3 minutes]
"Oh, lovely, I haven't had Chocolate Gingers for a long time. I've got so much chocolate here!"
"I'll read you the card that came with the chocolates"
[proceeds to read my brother-in-law's card]
"Wasn't there a card with the Gingers? I sent one as well. The Gingers, Mum, they're from me!"
"I'll let you know if I find one"
"What about the third parcel?"
"What? Er...."
"You had 3 parcels yesterday"
[Goes off searching in another room]

[Eventually] "Oh, well that was the one with 'The Aviator' in it!" [spoken as if I'm being stupid]
"Well, you're welcome for that as well. Happy Birthday!"

She asked me to thank my brother-in-law for his present. Maybe at some point she'll thank me as well?

Thursday 13 October 2005

low battery

Mum rang just now to tell me that the car battery is flat again. I get the same call maybe 5 or 6 times a year and we always have the same conversation where she'll mention that some (non-mechanic) person has suggested it might be her alternator at fault and not the fact that she doesn't use the car enough to keep the battery charged.

As always I tried to establish what it could NOT be before we started speculating on mechanical faults, so I asked her when was the last time she used it.
"Oh, it's been a while now."
I asked her to be specific, then she suddenly remembered and said, "I took it out for a run 3 days ago".
Okay, I said, Where was that to?
"I took it to the supermarket to do a big shop".
The supermarket is about 100 yards from her apartment.

So I went over the same stuff I always do. That she needs to get the car up to speed over a distance of at least 10 miles once or twice a week. She was indignant, but couldn't really pretend that she'd managed to get the car up to 50mph on the village High Street.

She's currently ringing the insurers, as she always does, to come out and jump-start it. Last time they did this she rang me afterwards, triumphantly telling me that it WASN'T that she wasn't using the car enough because they'd told her that she'd left the lights on and had drained the battery. Because they'd said that she wouldn't have seen the lights were still on in the summer sunshine this became translated as "the battery went flat because it's summer, not because I did anything wrong".

She insisted that it's been a year since this last happened, but I reminded her that the battery had been newly installed this summer. "Yes," she said, "and it's under a 4 year guarantee, so we should get them to fix it". I tried to explain that the battery was behaving quite normally in discharging through lack of use. Any moment now she's going to ring me again.....

.... that was her - all smiles because she's talked to a lovely helpful insurance person who's sending someone out tomorrow.

I'm going to buy her one of those solar car battery chargers that you leave out on the dashboard. Maybe that'll do the trick.