Yeah, sorry about the post below. This week I've had to deal with changing the computer (oooh, the rows) and the car (oooh, the rows) as well as dealing with what has been essentially three solid days of migraine and vertigo symptoms. I haven't been swimming for three weeks because of this now and I'm annoyed. My mobile phone company is still taking money off me that I don't owe it. And the bloody fireworks have begun, meaning I have three howling, petrified Basset hounds to console at all hours.
But anyway, hello again. Now, I mentioned changing the car. I'm giving up the Mondeo, the same one that I crashed into an M62 barrier near Goole two and a half years ago, and taking on a two year old Renault Scenic. Today, as a precursor to handing the Mondeo back to the dealership and smiling sweetly, I've had it washed.
I haven't personally washed a car since 1988, when the 15 year old me took part in a sponsored car wash to raise money for the swimming club. Prior to this, I partook in a school car wash for cystic fibrosis in 1985 (a lad I grew up with had the disease; he passed away in 1996) and succeeded in removing some blue paint from the camper van of Mr Richardson, the fearsome basic skills teacher. Mortified, I was. And yet he didn't notice.
Since learning to drive and taking ownership of vehicles - all Fords; that's four Mondeos, two Fiestas, an Escort and an Orion - I have found that utilising the services of the local car wash, be it an automatic machine at the garage or one of those forecourts resplendent with willing, sponge-wielding scallies, to be far more preferable than knocking my pan out with hoses, sponges, various smelly products and my driveway at 10am on a Saturday. The chap who lives opposite me is obsessed with washing his car. He is doing it every weekend, to the highest standards, whether it needs it or not.
His choice. Mine happens to be different. Hand over a few quid and let someone else do it while you read the paper and send text messages.
There is a forecourt in Hull that does a quite brilliant wash and mini-valet for 12 quid, and this is where I took the Mondeo today. It was early afternoon and I'd not eaten, so I took a sarnie with me, gave them the car and seated myself in their warm waiting room, reading a three day old edition of the Daily Star. The warm but intense gas fire makes one think of a minicab office as you wait.
While I settled, no fewer than seven youngsters washed, wiped, vacuumed and scrubbed my car. As ever, the job they did was absolutely tremendous.
And none of them are English, nor speak any more than a few rudimentary words in order to be able to comprehend what the customer wants. The options are plastered on the forecourt in bright lettering of such a size than one can almost just point and grunt and they get it. I wanted a Green Valet, so I pointed at Green and got a "yes" and a thumbs-up. I don't know where they're from but on a colloquial level locally they're known to anyone I mention them to as Croatians. They could be from anywhere just as exotic and far flung, like Greece, Poland or Whitehaven. I don't like to ask. I probably wouldn't be understood anyway. And it may turn me against them if Hull City once had a rubbish, money-grabbing player from their nation. And this is entirely possible.
I drove the car away as if it were brand new, save for the massive scratches that remain after an unforgiving Portsmouth fan let his keys dangle too close during last season's game at Fratton Park. Oh, and the 147,000-odd miles on the clock. Must remember to fill in that form on a certain irritating website that allegedly buys any car and tells you relentlessly via advertising. Over the weekend the trusty Mondeo - and it has been; only the crash took it off the road at any time, and it survived that - will leave my driveway for the last time. And it will be clean and shiny in doing so.
Those car-washers would be just perfect if they didn't insist on retuning Radio 2 to Radio 1 for the duration of their task. That said, it was pushing 2pm so Steve Wright was due on. Even when you don't speak the lingo, there are clearly limits.