It’s Just Cos You’re Old

My ole man complains his doc doesn’t even try to help him. He always just says “It’s cos you’re old.” Any problem, there’s no attempt at fixing or understanding – just “Hey, you’re old.” Now I really empathise with people wanting to be heard; I think every effort should be made to hear out 95yr-olds and understand their problems; But I did also suspect that some things – human and mechanical – are simply “because they’re old” – reinforced by Tom’s refrain from The Boondocks: “You’re just mad cos your ass is old.”      SO – although I told the ole man he really should get a second opinion (to which he replied, “I’m going to make one last appointment with him and I’m going to tell him I’m leaving him!” Why? I asked, Just leave. “No, what about his other patients!?  He needs to be told!”), I did also secretly think, Hey, some things can’t be fixed.

So my Ford Ranger – that’s my white 3litre diesel 4X2 hi-rider double cab Ford Ranger – has been a bit noisy, but I was not admitting to it. What? What noise? I can’t hear anything. I once heard a noise and it cost me money.
Then three things happened and forced my hand: One, a very young lady, teenager really, reversed into my left front wheel, BANG. I got out and she burst into tears Waah! I’m sorry! Waah! I’ve had such a terrible day! Waah! I’m going to be in such trouble! I looked at my car: not a scratch. I looked at hers: a dented soft bumper. I said Off You Go. Just Go. As I drove off Tom said Dad! You’re such a sucker! You should have sued her ass! Nah, I said, nothing happened. Then the car starts to shake like its got Parkinson’s. See!? says Tom, I told you. She just suckered you, you should have sued her. We’d gone ten metres and a glance at the young lady, teenager really,’s car showed she’d already gone seventy metres in the shade. She was outta there!  What to do? I pretended not to feel the shake. What shake? I don’t feel a shake; I once felt a shake and it cost me money. Tom just gave an exasperated eye roll and shook his head.

Two, driving up our road with Jess, a cacophony of sound like forty seven tin cans had been thrown under the car made it hard for even me to ignore it. What was that Dad!? says Jess, who usually doesn’t notice anything automotive. Did you throw all your tin cans under the car, Jess? I deflect. No! She says firmly, That noise is from your car, Dad! Jess, I once heard a noise . . oh, hell, I just kept quiet.

The clincher was I had volunteered my vehicle as able to take the nine lady walkers and me to the Zululand walk and I now found out they expected it to drive to the actual beach, then on to fetch us at the next stop and I suddenly thought, “What if it lets me down in front of these grown, not teenage, ladies? That could prove embarrassing.” A 4X4 it ain’t. So I leapt into action: I fixed the left rear door, which hasn’t opened for a year; And I decided I’d give it new tyres. That always makes it look better. The front ones were worn quite sadly. New tyres, I thought, and then the alignment will probably fix all the other problems which are simply a matter of being out of whack after being whacked by a young lady – teenager really.

And you won’t believe what the tyre man told me as he was doing the alignment! Your Shocks Are Fucked, he tells me. Bluntly; Just like that. How dare he? I was still puffing when he scribbled on my tyre invoice “Four shocks” and said “Go get a quote.” Well, I’m a diplomat and they say the meek will inherit the earth without any land claims, so I absorbed the shock and next thing I’m driving away with two new Dunlop with superblue tyres, balanced and aligned and four new yellow Monroe shock absorbers.

And would you believe it!? Silence! Smoothness! Amazing. Maybe things CAN be fixed. I may have to re-evaluate.

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While these shocks were being applied, this party bus was having its wheels aligned nearby:

So I dial the number and a voice behind me says “Are you calling me?” It’s Ndumiso and he’s the owner-dude. Sure, he can do Jessie’s bar for her 21st party, he says. No prah-blim. Ha! Two birds with one stone.

You can see from their bumper they’re probably steady, reliable ous.

Update: NOT. He hasn’t phoned, hasn’t returned messages. He’s like King Kong with Faye Wray. I’ll have to play barman.

Deja Bloody Vu

Can you believe it? The irresponsibility!

Tom is writing exams, writes five and decides he wants to write the last three when I can invigilate. The others have been invigilated by his tutor Langelihle and another third-year student Rebecca. So we settle on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

Except he arranges for Ryan to come around and the two of them beetle off gallivanting heavens know where and doing heavens knows what. So he only wrote the last three papers on Monday and Tuesday. Bloody hell! Who would DO something so irresponsible!?

Er, actually, maybe his father?

Back in 1972 I had four matric final exams, then a five day break before the last two. Me and Gabba took the gap and disappeared off to his farm behind the mountain after pulling in at the liquor off-sales on the way where he could legally buy grog, him being eighteen. Plus.

Gabba was a great friend to have, he had a car and lived all alone on his farm where he bought and sold cattle for a living – ‘speculated in cattle’ they called it. In matric! Cool! His farmhouse was a half-house. You picked your way over the rubble of the first half and entered by what used to be an inside door but was now the outside door of the remaining half.

We flattened the beer, which made us thirsty so we scrounged around and found a big old glass two-eared flagon of umqombothi on top of the fridge, fermenting quietly. We finished what was in there and phoned Frank on the party line. Frank was another bachelor alone on his farm nearby. What shall we do? we enquired of Frank, knowing that he would guide us wisely, him a few years older. Frank said “I’ve got beer, come!”

We finished that and Frank said “Let’s go to town”. Who were we to argue? We hopped into his car, I think a Datsun 1800 SSS, and roared off to town at terminal velocity, strong and clever. I remember a narrow bridge across a spruit approach and disappear in a blur with a loud WHUMP! in the middle of it followed by half a second’s silence –  airborne.

Gabba Frank car

In town we woke up the barman of the Royal Hotel down near the railway line. He grumbled a bit, but Frank was having none of it so he went off and reappeared with a case of dumpy beers. We then drove round to the R’s home and threw pebbles against an upstairs window. Penny opened the window, shimmied down the downpipe and we were OFF again on the dirt roads to the farm behind the mountain. At high speed. Invincible.

The next night back at Gabba’s place I phoned my Mom on the party line during a heavy thunderstorm and downpour. “Where have you been? Come home!” was the message but I said “What? Hard to hear you! I’ll be coming back tomorrow”. She said “Yes, rather don’t drive in this weather.” I said “Don’t worry, I’m the responsible type”.

I’m sure* Tommy wasn’t up to kak like that, so maybe he doesn’t take after his Dad.

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umqombothi – traditional Zulu beer

spruit – stream

kak – mischief

*- not really sure

 

On Seeking Good Advice

. . and then ignoring it.

I couldn’t believe they wanted R40 000! Forty Thousand! NO WAY!

So I sought advice from someone who really knows cars.

Hi Alan
My VW kombi is a 2005 1,9TDi T5 8-seater – 166 000km.

Repairs needed:
Clutch (R12 800); Brakes (R3 000); Driveshaft (R10 100)
Sliding door not opening; plus 165 000 km service.

I have been quoted R40 537 for the above by Alpine Motors VW.

As a trade-in on a second-hand vehicle (around R250k) they offer me R30 000.

I think I’m ready for a double cab bakkie now. Needn’t be 4X4.

Please tell me what you think. Thanks a lot. Cheers. Pete

(this was in 2012)

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Hi Pete.

My value for your kombi: R105 000 less 15 for high kms = 90. Less repairs. So worst case scenario on a trade-in = R50 000.

So their R30 000 offer is taking a chance. You don’t need to give it away, these kombis are very sought-after.

If Alpine sells you another they will do the repairs for half that. Tell them to work a deal and you want 70 as-is on another Kombi.  If not, rather keep it and fix it yourself as the repairs it needs are all wear and tear being the driveshaft, clutch and brakes – not unusual at this mileage.

My advice:
Fix it. That is the cheaper way round. This is not so expensive in comparison to other cars.

Regards, Alan

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So: Did I take his advice and spend R40k to get exactly what I wanted?
No, I spent R140k and got a bakkie. Which I didn’t really want. And which I still have and I still don’t really want.

One day I hope to live and learn.

DSCN8788.JPG

Did You Got a Licence?

Dad, asks TomTom, When does this licence expire?

We’re sitting outside a nightclub at 11pm and he’s asking while we’re waiting for the last of the boys so we take home all eleven that we brought (yes, ELEVEN).

Dunno, let’s check, I say. I know he’s interested as we were once bust in Lesotho for an expired licence and he doesn’t want that to happen again. Those okes with guns made him nervous. Me too. Soon after that they had their 2014 coup!

September 2015, I sigh.

So I’m in the queue for my licence for the third time. The first time I sat next to an old toppie. He musta been 60 if he was a day. He was timing the transactions. Average seven minutes per person and there were 17 ahead of me, so I would have been late for work, so I left. The second time I was making good progress when I overheard from the counter “where’s your proof of address”, so I left.

This third time I have all three papers. For the bakkie, the trailer and Jessie’s scooter – those two expired in 2014! And I have my proof of address, my ID card and money.

But not enough. I had R430 and the bakkie alone is R620 so I’ll be back a fourth time with more cash.

Hell is going to be like this. Queues.

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.

pic of a more recent disk added later

Wheels and Status

Car spotting and car bragging is a (very) competitive sport at Tom’s school. Every day I hear tales of Ferraris and Range Rovers taking kids to school and the sad lament of what the isikoroskoro we drive means to his standing.
We usually park far from the school (I let him walk the last few hundred metres) but yesterday I parked right outside the gate and poor Tom got bust: His mates spotted the Ford Ranger double cab. Worse: It’s only 4X2.
This morning we parked far away again as he told me they ragged him mercilessly. “We saw your Dad’s Bhugatti, Thomas!” they said with great delight.

the wish Bhugatti–   reality Ford

– – – – – – 883Kw                                        103Kw

Ah well, he has inflicted pain, he has to learn to take pain.

Redfoot, the 1979 Land Rover

Aitch knew a doctor in PMB who “did up” Land Rovers. That got me thinking . . .
To my amazement my partners Lello Yoell & Stoute weren’t HUGELY enthusiastic as I twisted their arms to go in as equal shareholders! Even when I told them that, besides the good doctor, it had only one previous owner (omitting that that had been the old KwaZulu Homeland Police Force).
But eventually they agreed and we became the proud consortium owners of a handpainted 1979 hole-in-the-floor manual 4X4 long wheelbase Series III station wagon-type 5-door Land Rover.
It was fitted with a Ford Essex V6 three litre engine on new birdshit-welded mountings and painted white with an old brush. The wheelrims were painted red with the same brush, from which its name Redfoot. Did I mention handpainted?

Well, we ended up putting three engines into ole Redfoot, and it went up Sani once, to Ladysmith once as 8-seater transport (Prem took it), Yoell used it once and never again, Soutar used it, Andre vd Merwe from PE thought he’d buy it but his wife Sue made him turn back NOW after only a few k’s and said he would buy it “Over Her Deceased Corpse”. A Canadian optometrist used it to get to a clinic where he did a volunteer stint in the Valley of 1000 Hills. He brought it back smoking – he didn’t really get the “stick shift” thing, nor the “clutch” thing.

Spent R25k on it in all and sold it for R5k – with relief! Not a runaway success story was Redfoot, but I think my partners exaggerate when they say I promised them an “investment opportunity”!

BUT never forget: When we went up Sani with an Isuzu 4X4 and a Toyota 4X4 and a Nissan 4X4, although they flew up and Redfoot had to pause for breath and a radiator top-up everyone had their photos taken next to Redfoot!

The three more capable - but less photogenic - bakkies

The more capable but less photogenic bakkies

Redfoot Sani crop-001
The posing

 

Moving? Don’t use Swanie’s Van Lines!

We were moving don’t ask me why. I would happily die here, I said to Aitch. “It’s outside the best schools’ catchment area” Aitch said to me. Which was why I was loading stuff into a rented trailer after fifteen years in River Drive.

Look, it wasn’t a bad trailer. It was – OK, it was a BIG trailer. And it was cheap. It was covered, too, in case it rained, which it didn’t. We had picked Pickfords to do the bulk removal, but I was doing the fragile and precious stuff, me being reliable, dependable, organised, punctual – OK, some of those. We were only moving about 4km to our new temporary home while Aitch searched in earnest for her ideal place.

Picture frames, certain favourite pot plants, some old furniture was expertly packed by me, learning as I went.

So I hitched it to the kombi and off we go. River Drive is right at the bottom where you have to be to be on a river, so I gunned the kombi up the steep hill. She battled at first but then seemed to catch power and roared off lustily. I started humming that song from the removals ad on TV. Y’know: The toothless ou driving along oblivious that his load is falling off the back . . ?

A glance in the mirror showed the trailer right there behind me. Except it was getting smaller . . . Whoa! The trailer had escaped! Which is why the kombi had suddenly felt quick! I watched in horror as it careered down the hill heading straight for Geoffrey’s new gate and wall!

Yanking up the handbrake, I leapt out and ran after it in slow motion, like in a movie. Pointlessly. What would I have done if I’d caught it? Luckily it slewed to the right and hit a small palm tree on the pavement just before Geoff’s gate and smacked to a halt.

Ignoring the big gouge out of the tar where the disselboom had hit the ground, I reversed the kombi up to it, hitched it up again (checking the ball hitch more closely this time), and gunned the kombi up the steep hill . . .

Moving-Truck-Losing-Furniture

I would clean the potting soil off the pictures later.

footnote:

We found a lovely new home in the Palmiet River valley right near “the right schools”, just as Aitch had planned. Then – Murphy’s Law – the kids were sent off to a remedial school in town 20km away!! The best-laid plans of mice and Aitch . . .


Aitch did have the last laugh, though:

https://bewilderbees.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/a-plan-comes-together/