Saturday, March 27, 2010

If you’re really bored, read on. And on. And on . . . Fuses, an insightful trip to Halfords and seafood medley beats the paté on toast.

I’m a great one for sneering at other people, even though as a well-brought up, middle-class sort of chap, more often than not I keep my thoughts to myself, or, at least, I try to, and people are very often none the wiser.
Would it be too, too snobbish of me, for example, to observe that visiting Asda is like shopping on a council estate? Yes, I think it probably would, so I shall keep schtum on that score and try to mitigate my apparent unpleasantness by admitting that if it is batteries you are after, or cheap DVDs, or any number of branded goods, Asda is no worse than any other store. For food I prefer to go elsewhere. I don’t really know why, but I do.
That was something of an unexpected diversion, so I shall get back to what I originally planned to say. Sneering is not nice, so by way of a penance I shall recount a very mundane incident today which culminated in my having an ineffably mundane insight. Were anyone else to have the same insight and go on to articulate it (which is what I did silently) then I would send them up rotten.
It started when I tried to get the DC power supply to my satnav going again. It has been out of operation for several months and I have been using a USB cable with the relevant DC cigarette lighter socket plug (which I bought at Asda for just a few pence. There, am I redeemed?) There was no particular reason why I should try to get it going again, but I decided to do so after my young son Wesley took apart another such DC power supply plug and discovered that once you unscrew the ‘top bit’, you find small fuse. ‘Ah-ha,’ I thought, ‘all I’ve got to do is to replace the fuse with one from another DC power supply I am not using, and I shall get it working again. QED.’ Except that I didn’t. I substituted the fuse, but when I stuck it in the socket, it still didn’t work. Oh, well, I thought, it must be something else.
About ten minutes later I realised that my car radio had stopped working. This is irritating because I have the radio on all the time when I am driving (Radio 4: I’m middle-class. See above). I decided that the radio fuse had gone and as I know where the fuses are in my British racing green Rover 45 (middle-class, again see above. And if that weren't enought, I am, by the way, writing this I am wearing a Guernsey sweater), I took a peek. To get at the fuses, you have to remove a kind of drawer just beneath the steering wheel, and on the back of this drawer is a diagram of all the different fuses and what amperage they are. There I discovered that the cigarette lighter and car radio both run off the same fuse. Even better, Rover supply a spare fuse for every amperage used. The trouble is that not only are they a bastard to get at, they are even more of a bastard to remove, especially when you are on your knees in an Asda car park, bent down almost double, craning your neck under the steering wheel and staring into a dark gloom with long sight. After a lot of pointless tugging with my fingers, I realised I needed the proper toold to do the job and decided to go to B&Q across the road to buy a pair of pliers. Then I realised that I could also get a new fuse at the branch of Halfords just down form B&Q. Outside Halfords, a staff member was wandering up and down having a fag, and I asked him whether the store sold pliers small enough to remove the fuse. Better than that, he told me, they have a special tool to do the job. Just ask in the store for Blake on Riptest (which is what it sounded like, but I don’t have a clue what he meant). In the store I could see nothing remotely like any department whose name might be interpreted as ‘Riptest’, but I told myself that I was grown up now and I would probably be able to find the pliers and replacement fuses with any assistance from Blake. Well, I couldn’t, and wandering around the almost deserted store — deserted is not a good sign for a Saturday early afternoon — I couldn’t at first find any member of staff until after a few minutes I came across three quietly gossiping in a corner. I explained what I wanted and one of them took me down to the fuses and also found me the ‘special tool’ for removing them. It is a small, plastic item, which probably cost no more than a tenth of a penny to make but is immensely useful. I bought it and my fuse (you get two in the packet), went outside and replaced the dead fuse. I then immediately blew it by plugging in the satnav lead with the substituted fuse (I trust all this talk of fuses isn’t confusing — I am talking about different types here). So I removed the blown new fuse I had popped in with the immensely useful plastic tool I had discovered, and popped in the second one.
And where is all this leading to? Well, to here: as I was walking out of Halfords with my packet of two fuses and a similar packet containing the plastic removal tool, I reflected: ‘Isn’t it strange how you seem to learn something new every day?’ My point is, dear reader, that if someone else has said that, I would have mocked them without mercy. Ah, but I said it. Mundane or what?
If you’ve been with me this far, here’s something to look forward to: an account of why I had a seafood medley with vinaigrette for lunch yesterday rather than paté on toast as I had planned. If you have stayed with me thus far, you’ll find it a riveting read. And yes, it is still Saturday afternoon.

Am I retired? No, not yet, but as you can see I’m slowly, gently cruising into an early dotage.

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