I had worried that I might run out of things carwash1to write about as my retirement settled into more predictable patterns and routines. I need not have worried, not so far at least. There’s always stuff going on particularly now I have started to focus on what appears at times to be encroaching senility. Certainly if you took the behaviour out of context – getting out of my car in the middle of a car wash, you would certainly question my sanity. Even in context I don’t show up well. Going a bit loopy is of course one of the things a person does start to become concerned about when he or she gets to a certain age. It seems I am at that age.

The context was this – I had taken our Kia Piccanto for a wash, we do that once a year whether it needs it or not. It being black it shows the dirt nicely but over a period of months you come to accept it as a kind of camouflage paint rather than anything unpleasant. It’s funny I said I’d never buy another black car after the last one so now we have two cars, both black. Anyway, I was starting to get a bit concerned about the amount of bird shit and berry dropping that, as everybody knows, finally eat their way through the paint work and into the car, dissolving the occupants, if left long enough. So I decided now is the time. Pausing only long enough to wash the car before taking it to the car wash – like people who clean their house before their cleaner comes because they don’t want the cleaner to think badly of them – I set off.

Let me say right up front that getting out of your car in the middle of the wash cycle is not to be recommended. Yes, it was a hot day, no, nobody saw me, yes, I was going straight home and not to the office being retired, and no, Mrs SH was not unkind to me when I arrived at the door looking, well, looking as if I had got out of my car in the car wash. Let me try and explain. It was all to do with the aerial which is (or rather was) on the roof. I have already in recent memory forgotten to remove the aerial before taking the car into the wash. So you don’t have to be retired to be an idiot. It costs £50 approx to replace because it snaps off and you need the whole shooting match replaced. In the last incident I remained blissfully unaware of what I had lost until I got home and thought hmm, that looks different, something missing and why is the radio not working? In this scenario I realised just a few minutes too late and pretty much at the point that the big roller things start to head towards your windscreen. Normally I quite enjoy sitting in my car while the big roller thing does its work. Not enough to go more than once a year, but when it has to happen, then I find it quite relaxing.

The scene of the crime looking very normal – too normal?

carwash2Not on this occasion. I had some serious thinking to do. My first cunning plan was to wait until the big roller thing had gone past the door, get out and unscrew the aerial. Bad plan as it turned out. I mistimed my mission and even though technically the roller thing had passed the door, when I opened the door, 5 tons of water came into the car and covered me in a sudsy deluge. Shutting door was quite hard for some reason (to do with vacuums or something?) but with me drowned and the car quite full of water, I eventually managed to wrench it shut. Wait until it’s right at the end of its swoop I reasoned. Which I did. Have you any idea of the excitement / sheer terror of getting out again, now knowing what is in store and trying to unscrew a wet, partially rusted aerial with a bloody great whirling dervisher of flailing bright green tentacles approaching you? No, I thought not, few sane people would have. You know there is a point when the thing goes completely limp – this is unbearably tense – but then cranks up again and bears down, in this case, on me struggling to unscrew the fucking aerial. Dear reader it would not unscrew and with every second whirling green thing was getting closer and closer. I cannot begin to describe the frisson of ….

The best I could do was at the final moment before the deluge was to push the aerial down towards the roof as far as it would go which, truth be told, was never going to be far enough, then dive back into the car before the jaws of the monster ( I think I may be getting a little too fanciful at this point but it did seem quite scary. I guess you’ll have to take my word for this), get me and then sit and pray for the next three minutes although it seemed much longer. The monster passed over, I breathed a sigh of relief, yes, I know, I know. It wasn’t done with me yet. And there is an irony here. The last time I took the car for a wash I remember I did not, because I am a cheapskate, pay for a ‘dry’ and was dissatisfied with the result. Yes, I know you know what happens. This time I paid extra for a dry although of course I didn’t realise how much extra – £55 or so makes for an expensive car wash). On the final swoop (going backwards was OK) with the drier thing at the very end of its task I heard a ping and some object, I’m pretty sure it was the aerial although I did not look, flew past my window. I drove the, fortunately short, journey home and mentally prepared myself for Mrs SH’s sympathy and understanding. She is not, in her retirement years ‘incident free’.

I’m not going to replace the aerial, for such it was that had flown by. Not replacing it won’t help my goal of listening to more Radio 4 on those trips to see M but then we haven’t been doing it anyway for some reason I don’t really understand. Strangely, it’s about the only New Year’s resolution I haven’t achieved. Perhaps I should have had a resolution about not being such a numpty. More of this at a later point.

And the great thing about all this is that it is not just one’s mental faculties that go, the body, your health, your money, your respectful audiences (nobody wants to hear an old git complain), all go. But then again we gain so much in the later years of life. Ahm… Wiseness? No evidence on the basis of this incident. Tranquillity? Nope. Love for one’s fellow human beings? Hell, no. Tolerance? This is not working for me. I guess the one thing I have retained, as hopefully this blog illustrates, is my sense of humour and evidence of one of my favourite mantras / guiding principles – humour is simply tragedy + time. As the missing aerial clearly shows. On this definition, it seems like retirement just offers more and more humour opportunities.

PS. Sorry I didn’t get any photos inside the car wash, I was too busy trying to avoid drowning.

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