I suppose readers may feel I already make rather too free with my somewhat modest IQ in the over-writing of this blog. I, on the other hand, like to view my work as part of “lifelong learning”, a cause which our politicians like to give lip-service to when there looks like an unattached vote might be there for the taking. However, in this case I refer not to any measurement of my soi-disant intellect but to my car – a red Toyota IQ.
My car has had a good, or perhaps a terrible, life (all depends on how you measure quality of life for a motor vehicle). It is very seldom used, so that at three years of age it has yet to reach mile two thousand. However, it is occasionally useful – when the combination of Shanks’s pony, an array of bicycles and public transport cannot meet my trans-locational needs.
There is a slight issue with its resting location, in that given where I live and the unique way in which Southampton City Council distributes residents’ parking (based on a snapshot of the city taken back in July 2002, I believe), it whiles away its many idle hours just almost a mile from my garret. On the other hand, and as recently established, it has value not just as a mode of (infrequent) personal transportation but also provides a vital curative element for distressed vertebrae – a function that might be compromised if it could rest closer to home.
However, given the less than unique way in which its “purchase” was funded, as it approached three years of age I had to decide whether the two of us had a future together or if divorce would be the kindest choice. For the longest time, I thought that we would follow the wise words of Tammy Wynette (actually, the words may not be hers, but she famously brought them to a wide public) and we would go our separate ways. However, life is uncertain and it may come to pass that I will need to use a car on a more regular basis in the next few years. To acquire a car of similar age and pedigree (just look at the low mileage and FSH!) would be really quite expensive, while the carrying-cost of retaining the IQ is relatively modest – so I decided to continue our long (if infrequent) association. I also decided that I ought to use the poor thing a little more often, I do seem to go to extreme (some might say insane) lengths not to use my vehicular asset and this is frankly ridiculous – so I am committed to change for the sake of the relationship.
Reaching the age of three in the UK, a car is required to be tested to ensure that it is, at least nominally, roadworthy. On the basis of Hollywood’s output, I can only assume that such a requirement does not exist in the US – or is very weakly enforced. Here in dear old Blighty, this test is still named after the long defunct Ministry of Transport – the MOT (well, we do love a bit of heritage) – and is an annual ritual from the age of three (so, not unlike the testing of children in this post Govean world). So, earlier this week, the car and I had a “date” somewhere down in deepest Millbrook at my local Toyota garage for both an MOT and its annual service (not a euphemism). Thanks to some last minute cramming (or perhaps its innate ability), the car passed its test with flying colours and is legally free to be driven for another year.
The car was “seen to” while I waited – and this led me to reflect on how technology has made waiting a much more pleasant experience. For a start, Snows (the garage – presumably born out of wedlock to the north of Westeros) was air-conditioned – so a much more comfortable place to be in the current heatwave than home – I was tempted to stay after the service was done, but thought this might be considered a little odd. I was plied with free tea (I brought my own sandwiches – well, a chap has needs!) and via my mini iPad could catch up on a rather fun BBC4 documentary. I could then use the free wifi to get on with a little work for “the man” before I was reunited with my three-cylinder friend. Never a dull moment!
For those who had not brought their own fun, there were a selection of newspapers and a television flickering away in the background. This mostly seemed to be showing a programme about crime and/or benefit recipients (well, I think it was after the estate agents and before the antiques traders are let loose on our daytime schedules) to draw in the key demographic of the reactionary unemployed. At one stage, this programme appeared to provide a reconstruction of a group of youths (presumably feral) dropping some litter. I realise that TV schedulers believe that those watching during the daytime have room temperature IQs (and I think we’re talking celsius here rather than fahrenheit), but surely even they can’t truly believe the audience would be unable to imagine someone dropping a Mars bar wrapper without the aid of a reconstruction? Sometimes, I despair! Still, I suppose no-one is forcing me to watch this tripe – though one way or another, I am probably partly funding its production.
So, technology (and the fine folk at Snows) make having the car serviced a painless, even enjoyable experience – but whatever you do, bring your own fun or you may be treated to television which would fail to engage even the lobotomised. Now, I must make good on my resolution and take my IQ out on some more regular (and distant) play dates…