Sunday, 29 April 2012

In which perspective is again elusive

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

The overreaction theme continues. Yesterday I bust a tyre. I was driving like a maniac over potholes and I trashed my front wheel. It was completely and utterly my fault. You should have heard the riot act I read myself in my own head. Twenty-seven kinds of idiot. And do you know why I was driving fast? Not because I had to get somewhere or had an appointment to fill, oh no. It was because one of my crazed prejudices is that only fussy old ladies drive slowly over potholes. It’s the kind of attitude you might find in a nineteen year old boy, not a woman of a certain age. In fact, I now realise, grown up and sensible people drive slowly over potholes. Because then they don’t have to chuck away perfectly good tyres with vast amounts of tread left on them.

The tyre thing went from minor inconvenience to end of the world. It loomed so large I could hardly sleep. Of course, the problem is that I have never learnt to change a wheel. This is a most shameful confession, and I do not know how I have been able to call myself a feminist all these years. A great wall of self-recrimination rose in my addled head. As a result of this dereliction, I would have to ask someone. I hate doing this for two reasons. One is it confirms all kinds of female stereotypes. Two is that I don’t like asking for help generally; it is one of my psychological flaws. I equate it with weakness, or something nutty like that. It is old magical thinking which I can’t quite wish away.

In the end, it was a bit of a life lesson, and I am mad for life lessons just now. The tremendous smiling neighbour, the man who knows how to get things done, for whom practical matters are meat and drink, not only offered to change the tyre, but made not one reference, not by the flicker of an eye or the slide of the voice, to ditzy females who know not one lug nut from another.

He even laughed at my jokes whilst he did it. (I was making a lot of jokes as blatant displacement activity. And to cover up the fact that I felt like ten kinds of fool.) And here is the thing: he seemed pleased to be able to do me a good turn.

Perhaps it does not mean that I am hopeless and pointless and feckless, that I do not know how to change my own wheel. (Obviously I shall now learn, because it’s too silly not to.) I could decide to regard it as a perfect opportunity for the kind neighbour to show the crest and peak of his kindness, and make me very, very happy.

I lavished him with thanks and admiration; most sincere, since I admire people who are good at the practical things for which I have no skill. I always think that asking people for favours is the most arrant imposition and bore. In fact, it may be the complete opposite. They get to feel valued and useful and good at something. It ends with all smiles. Everyone wins. Well, that is my new fledgling theory, and I think I am sticking to it.

Up at the field, in a borrowed car, I rub the mare in the special spot behind her ears that she loves, and watch her close her eyes in pleasure. She rests her head against me, and breathes slowly through her nostrils. The love rises and blooms. She does not care that I know nothing of mechanics. She has no judgement on what I can or cannot do. I bring her carrots and sing her songs and rub her sweet spots and give her love. In return, she gives me her trust. It’s a bargain of such purity that it takes my breath away.


Today's pictures – The sun actually shone, so here are views and lovely, gleaming horses:

29 April 2 28-04-2012 12-09-52 4025x2564

29 April 3 28-04-2012 12-09-56 3024x4032

29 April 4 28-04-2012 12-16-34 4032x3024

Oh, and sudden, random, running hen:

29 April 6 28-04-2012 12-16-46 2782x2212

29 April 6 28-04-2012 12-18-00 4032x3024

29 April 6 28-04-2012 12-27-10 4032x3024

The ladyship, taking her ease:

29 April 10 28-04-2012 12-08-24 3024x4032

Off she goes:

29 April 11 28-04-2012 12-11-43 3653x3000

With her small friend:

29 April 12 28-04-2012 12-14-02 3024x4032

From the sidelines, the Pigeon observes. She is still not quite sold on the whole huge red dog thing. Red lowers her head and sniffs the Pidge, and breathes gently on her, and the Pigeon is torn between thinking this quite interesting and charming, and saying – get this great thing off me. I can see her flicking back and forth in her old mind. I find the best answer is extra biscuits, which seems to go down pretty well:

29 April 12 28-04-2012 12-09-32 3016x3581

The hill, rather blurry behind the horse chestnut, which is really putting out its leaves now:

29 April 20 27-04-2012 13-50-25 3016x2759


  1. Very little makes me feel more angry, more frustrated, more "pathetic woman" than car trouble. I, of course, hate this but feel a little glee in reading this because I'm not alone. x

  2. Frankie Bird - oh how happy I am not to be alone either. My disproportionate rage and despair at a not-working car, esp when it is my own idiot fault, is awful to behold. And I think you have struck nail on head with the 'pathetic woman' thing; perhaps that is what we all dread. :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I am deep in dismal shame that I too have never changed a wheel, most probably because I am married, and before that I was blonde. But I can check my tyre pressure, and top up the oil and water. Will that do?

      Will you *please* stop kicking yourself up the arse about this stuff, Tania? Don't worry, be happy. Can the wheel-changer write several novels which get published to public acclaim, be the best imaginable human for Duchesses and Pigeons, and adopt a red mare, and be an excellent sister, cousin and (great) aunt, make and pay her own way in life, so that she relies on hardly anyone except very occasionally, to do what we in our house in any case call "a willy job". A willy job is something that most men are better suited to doing than most women, on account of the fact it takes a bit of in-built heft to pull it off easily.

      Willy jobs include mowing lawns, moving the wheelie bins out for collection and standing on ladders to do stuff high up.

      And changing wheels.

      There are oodles of fanny jobs too. Even noticing that the loo needs to be cleaned being numero uno...

    3. Willy job is a perfect term. However, I confess to once including swatting bugs over a certain size on that list as well. At least, until a boyfriend confessed that he didn't like doing it either. But change a tire? That's legit. You can't do everything, and those lug nuts require the strength of Hercules to remove.


    4. The term 'willy job' is superb. It does, however, only really apply when the available manpower is good at said jobs. My darling husband is somewhat less capable of said things than I am, but then his mind is usually on 'higher things' (he's a minister). My best friend's husband, on the other hand, can not only change tyres and solve complex hi-fi wiring problems, he can also move a fridge-freezer in manner of Obelix and his menhirs. Sadly, they live near Manchester, so I have to find other local gents for my willy jobs.

      I can do oil, water, petrol, screenwash and that's about it - oh, and tyre pressure. But changing a tyre? Get away.

  3. Tania, I know many many men who do not know how to change tires/tyres. I HATE car stuff, and hate that whole "pathetic woman" feeling, which I have brought upon myself as well... I think you are having one of those weeks... I have them once in a while, where everything is wrong, nothing will go right and ARGH. I hypothetically know how to change a wheel, but don't have the upper-body strength....

  4. I have never changed a tire either. That's why we pay an annual fee to Touring Secours/ Touring Wegenhulp (and I've more than gotten our money's worth over the years; I seem to be quite adept at cutting curbs -- kerbs? -- in a turn, producing an instant flat).

    What a difference bright sunlight makes! The photos are absolutely brilliant!!!

  5. I think extra biscuits make everything alright.

    Lovely to see your sun has come out. xx

  6. Tania (said sternly)...people often say to me don't be so hard on yourself. Stop beating yourself up. I get it as a comment at least once a week it seems! I am telling you the same. I have NO IDEA how to change a tyre and don't want to know. That is what male neighbours are for. Does that make anti-feminist? I hope not *blush*. It will all be OK in the end. That is what I tell myself over and over :-) L x


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