This weekend I had three tasks - go to the BMF Show, go to the Fake MA Party with friends from work, and put a new fuel pump on the 2CV. Friday, Saturday night and Sunday morning. Should have been simple.
I reckoned without the careful attention to detail of the people behind the BMF show. It was very good of them to provide excellent beer, great company, and a ZZ Top tribute band who (I think, but my memories may be confused by the beer here) rounded off their set with La Grange, which I absolutely love to dance to.
But the excellence of Friday night meant that Saturday morning started in a slightly wobbly and uncertain way. I managed to chat to Sue and Uki from the Guzzi owners' club about camping, mainly because they provided coffee and ginger nuts; caught up with Andy and Sheila in the grandstands for the White Helmets; and then tripped on my heels and fell arse over tit down the grandstand steps to land at the feet of Leon Mannings. I don' t think that was quite the entrance he was expecting me to make.
I have a dodgy left knee, I dislocated it dancing at one of my sister's housewarming party in the days when she liked renting cottages in very remote parts of Scotland. One minute I was throwing groovy shapes, the next I had crashed to the floor. I think some of her friends thought this was just an extension of my startling moves. After only 12 months of physio I was able to walk on it again. I got married with a full-length support stocking on that leg, just in case it collapsed halfway up the aisle. So some sort of karmic echo has probably made it necessary that I get divorced in a similar state of immobility.
Knees are a bad design and when you bugger them up they really, really hurt, in a "putting a brave face on it but actually on the verge of throwing up" way. So I didn't see much of the show. I said hello to the Oval Motorcycle Centre, and I joined the Trail Riding Fellowship so that when I go back to Australia I can ride the lovely red roads, and then I had to go and sit down.
Hell for me would be sitting in a room while all my friends are at a party and I am not. So you can imagine how happy I was on Saturday night to realise, after 20 minutes making small talk and eating excellent onion bhajis, that unless cold sweat had suddenly become what all the cool kids are wearing, I was going to have to admit my limitations and retire hurt.
This morning I woke up at 4.30, and it was raining. Attempting to remove a vital organ from the car in the rain seemed to be an unwise idea but by about half 10 the rain had decided that staying in the cloud would be fine so I lined up the instruments and got stuck in. "Oh dear, is the car still poorly?" asked the neighbours, to whom my endless struggle with machinery is a source of bafflement and entertainment.
My toolkit has expanded and the teeny-weeny sockets were a perfect fit. I find it interesting that when I start a job like this it seems impossible to wrestle past all the bits of engine to get a grip on the object of my desire but by the end of three hours the spaces feel twice the size and I seem to have developed extra thumbs to hold the spacer, the washer, the bolt, the socket on the extension bar and the petrol hose. Although this may just be because I have been in the Fens too long and have acquired the local adaptation.
Having got everything off and the new bits lined up, greased up and stuffed into hoses, I had to persuade myself to take the final step and fit them. I think this was fear. If this didn't work, I would be out of ideas for what was wrong with the car. But the great joy of a 2CV is that you can stick a starting handle in the front and turn the engine over with it. As the pump is mechanically-driven off the engine, I thought I would be able to tell whether it was working. It didn't chuck any petrol out of the top hose but it did make a magnificent sucky noise, like wellies in mud. Which the other one hadn't. Which gave me great confidence, which proved to be correct . The car now runs, the exhaust doesn't leak, and the boots? They're still shiny boots of rubber. All I need now is the MOT and it will be a success to be proud of.
* I don't have any good pictures from the show, so here is the Travelling Moose of happy memory.