On the way to collect Husband at Cork airport this morning, what should I get but a flat tyre. (After two weeks in Ireland, this pattern of speech is now second nature.)
When I say ‘flat’, it is probably more accurately described as ‘shredded all to cock’; and similarly, the word ‘tyre’ should be ‘stringy bits of rubber’.
There was a ‘bang!’, which at the time I assumed was caused by an invisible pothole – quite common in this part of the country. Thereafter, the car felt a bit sluggish, but it’s a 1998 Nissan Micra belonging to my mother, so I thought it was probably just a build-up of rust and/or moss. About 40km later, the car started shuddering. The onset of belated alarm was delayed by the texture of the tarmac. Evidently a particularly rugged stretch of road, I thought – again, hardly unusual for Irish thoroughfares.
It was only when the car started bouncing to a flapping sound effect that I stopped to check it out – by which stage, the rear wheel on the driver’s side was emitting a prolonged explosion of sparks.
Apart from all the above, a busted tyre was almost inevitable, since it was hammering rain and I was in the center of Macroom. The residents of Macroom have been lobbying for a bypass for as long as I can remember, because at one point the road through town is barely wide enough for two cars. Which is where I pulled over.
The last time I changed a tyre was probably over ten years ago. Since then, I’ve had a husband to sort out that kind of thing. I mean really, what would I be doing fiddling around with a set of nuts?
After a comprehensive search of the Nissan Micra – surprisingly roomy – I finally located the spare wheel and jack ingeniously concealed in a secret compartment in the boot. I have since been informed this is standard. Thankfully, the jack had instructions printed on the side, although for a while I thought the rod with the hook was for extracting mud from the treads.
Then I hung my arse out in the road while articulated lorries hissed by showering me with spray. I tried to project an air of gorgeous helpless feminine distress. While I had no problem communicating the helpless and distressed, the other two were trickier – but I can tell you it’s almost impossible to convey gorgeous femininity while jacking a car in driving rain.
The @/&%ing wheel had a @/&%ing hubcap, which no amount of levering or kicking or swearing at metal melting temperatures would shift. Eventually, it was eroded by the rain.
By the time a man pulled up, I had removed the bolts. I have no idea why he couldn’t have shown up ten minutes before; and while I’m being ungracious, he could have been better looking and ideally wearing a pair of overalls stripped to a waist bristling with greased-up abs.
“Need a hand?” he said, and I felt it would be unchivalrous to ask him to hold the umbrella.
Seriously, it was awfully kind of him – given the weather, you could almost call it pathologically kind. I was grateful.
The flight was delayed three quarters of an hour, so I was at the airport in time to clean the grease off my fingers and swipe a comb through the hair. It was fabulous seeing Husband again – although he would have been more useful an hour earlier . . .