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The inevitabilty of pain

Martin Roberts tears out his last remaining hairs

I don’t know about you, but I am comfortable with my slightly insular approach to life. I hate being bothered by people, largely because it is not my nature to bother others (so why do they do it to me?) …

It’s also a major frustration when either things that ought to happen, don’t … and/or when things that shouldn’t happen, do.

About five years ago, I had an ever-loyal and helpful former colleague of mine, who claimed a degree of hobby DIY expertise, install both my domestic washing machine and the dimmer switch system on the uplighters in my sitting room. I didn’t want to take advantage of him – like me, he was ‘resting’ from work at the time – and so paid him for his time.

Regular readers will be aware that I personally have never ‘washed at home’ by choice (preferring to take my washing to the laundry, from where it returns ironed and neatly presented on hangers) and, as a result, my washing machine is only ever used by guests and visitors.

One day, after about six months, I noticed a discolouration moving, gradually but inexorably, across the wooden flooring in front of the washing machine. A few weeks later, I called in a plumber. He identified that ‘whomever it was’ that installed said machine had failed to tighten two of the washers along the hosepipe leading to it from the water supply – with the result that my kitchen flood had since been subject to water/flooding damage over the course of that (now) seven months period of inattention. It was going to cost me thousands of pounds to rip up and replace the ‘damaged’ flooring – which, it may not surprise you, I have not yet got around to spending.

switchWithin a few weeks of my pal completing his original work, the uplighters in my sitting room gave up the ghost.

They wouldn’t come on at all, still less ‘dim’ (or the opposite) upon command.

Last week – no less than five years after their installation – my pal returned to sort the issue out by means of replacing the dimmer switches, for which work (of course) he got paid again.

Now – a few days later – the lights will not switch off!

Not only are they on 24 hours per day, they are constantly dimming … then coming up bright … and dimming again … which leaves me inflicted with a permanent ‘strobe-lighting’ effect in my front room. Short of taking a hammer to the bulbs, as yet I have failed to come up with a way of switching the bloody things off.

… And remember – all I wanted was a washing machine that others could use from time to time and a set of lights that worked as promised upon the tin!

Early in May this year, my beloved VW car suddenly began displaying an ‘Engine fault – workshop!’ signal on the dashboard, accompanied by a loud ‘ping’, every ten seconds.

A worrying message, you might agree, but also a method of drawing your attention to a problem that drives you nuts, especially when it begins whilst you are driving on a motorway, about fifty miles from the nearest garage repairman. It’s like a version of Chinese water torture as you reduce speed in an attempt to prevent your engine catching fire, or exploding, or whatever disaster awaits if you do not heed the warning.

In this case, my little local garage-man said that, provided I didn’t flog the engine, I could still drive the car … so, when next I was at the coast I took it to the main dealer garage for repair.

turboThey announced that, unusually, the turbo had ‘blown’ and needed replacing, a solution that I reluctantly went along with (at a cost of £2,300).

The way I regarded it, at least – with a brand new turbo installed – I’d never have that problem again.

Until yesterday.

I was driving to the coast for lunch when – out of the blue – the famous ‘Engine fault – workshop!’ (with accompanying ‘ping’) warning began again. After 90 minutes’ worth of six ‘pings’ per minute, I reached the aforementioned main dealer again and presented the vehicle for ‘sorting out’.

Four hours later, despite the fact they’d promised to call me the moment they identified the problem, I had to ring them in order to discover that, since I needed to take the vehicle away that afternoon [well, I needed to get back to town by the evening, of course], they hadn’t been able to do all the required checks and, accordingly, were pronouncing their examination ‘inconclusive’.

As a result, yesterday evening I finally reached home after enduring another 110 minutes of ‘pinging’.

I’m due to depart on a three-day trip to France and Belgium tomorrow by car which – if I cannot cure this ‘pinging’ problem – will have to be cancelled. I could not take the constant ‘pinging’, still less take the chance of being left at the side of some foreign road with a vehicle that has broken down.

I trust, dear reader, you can sympathise with my current persecution-complex-led, ‘put upon’, attitude to my existence.

Why cannot things do what they are supposed to do when you’ve paid good money for them? When you have repairs done, why don’t they resolve the problem?

Why do these things always happen to me? Why cannot life leave me alone?


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About Martin Roberts

A former motoring journalist, Martin lists amongst his greatest achievements giving up smoking. Three times. He holds to the view that growing old is not for the faint-hearted. More Posts