I (accidentally) provided plenty of reasons for a gloomy family Christmas 2022. Just a glance at my swollen neck – post op – would have put a damper on most domestic celebrations. That I allowed a beard to grow over the swelling (too sensitive to shave) suggested I was fathering some nauseating tropical fruit that even orangutans would find unpalatable. No matter.
Playing a demanding game based on word definitions almost cracked the ceiling plaster. Drink flowed in torrents (if not for me). The Beef Wellington was superb. And there were table presents.
Table presents are gifts intended to provoke wit. As for instance the carefully-chosen book I received: Cars We Loved In The 1950s. My initial reaction looked no further than that hilariously erring participle “loved”. Surely the author had mistyped “loathed”. But reflect. At the time – assuming you are old enough – one didn’t loathe these wretched contraptions. These were the only cars available. Only the passage of time revealed their terrible defects.
Poverty forced me into owning one such vehicle. I’ve mentioned it before so it remains nameless. It had a four-speed synchromesh gearbox which may need some decoding. Synchromesh allows drivers to change gears without wearisome “double declutching”. Yet my car lacked this facility between first and second gear. A garage mechanic explained: on my make of car synchromesh always failed permanently within the first year. Even on modestly steep hills, engine power was so feeble I often had to select first gear. And thus double-declutch.
Male Brits tend to glorify car defects, maintaining they form character. Being able to double-declutch was the subject of much boasting. I could do it, but remained enraged that the symptoms of this industrial failure were so casually accepted, even seen as a way of expressing techno-manhood.
Yup, I loathe those cars.