Oh dear. Every man of Indian descent must be wincing in the knowledge that this story is currently the most popular on BBC News. And it looks like a BBC wag was the author of the article, with phrases such as

over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre.

Dead car. Dead boring.

My car is officially dead. Not going anywhere. The entire rear brake system and handbrake assembly needs serious work. So, if anyone wants to buy a 1992 Peugeot 106 1.4 that can’t be driven anywhere, really cheap*, let me know.

As a result, Hels and I spent the whole of today looking for a replacement. We visited sixteen dealers. Count them. Sixteen. 16. One, followed by a six. I think my brain is about to melt.

It seems that there is a great shortage of cars that are in our price bracket. There are many that are very cheap (and, therefore, crap or knackered) and there are many that are more expensive than we can afford (and, therefore, very desirable). We only found six cars that were suitable candidates today, of which four were Renault Méganes. We’ve booked a test drive for our favourite of these for tomorrow morning, so I hope to have transport available again soon. This, undoubtedly, will be a Good Thing, although I would have been happier to have found some options that weren’t Méganes, just to broaden the choice.

But, honestly, there has to be an easier way. Anything we found on the internet was already sold, miles away or entirely unsuitable. Stuff in Autotrader also had the same problems. Ultimately, it comes down to getting out and pounding the streets to physically look at cars on the ground, which is tiring and time-consuming. What’s more, with so many types of cars (I’m not an expert by any means), it is virtually impossible to make meaningful comparisons even between two cars that appear superficially similar. Maybe we should just be like the Soviets and all have identical Ladas (well, perhaps something a little nicer than that).


* Really cheap = about £80 to £100, plus you have to organise a trailer to take it away.

EDIT: the test drive was a success. Surprisingly, it turns out that it is cheaper for me to insure the “new” car, so it will become mine, not Hels’s. I’m not in the least bit gleeful about this; not at all. Honest. I should take delivery (or, rather, drive 120 miles to get it) on Saturday.

Big bang

You may have seen today’s news about a large fire at a fireworks warehouse in East Sussex, with its sad outcome.

Our home is approximately 10 kilometres from the site of the fire. We had already heard distant sirens as fire crews and ambulances headed for the scene (although at that time we had no idea what the cause was). Then the house was rocked by a massive blast – big enough to shake the whole building, scaring up the cats and local birds and causing at least one other of my neighbours to come out to see what had happened. Goodness knows what it must have been like to be closer to the explosion.

Wine tasting classes

The French governing party, the UMP, has suggested that children should be taught to appreciate wines when in school – which doesn’t strike me as half as daft as it might first appear. I’m not sure about wine alone, but there could be something in encouraging kids to learn more about art, literature, architecture, food and drink – to be able to critically appraise it and understand its origins. Of course, some of this sort of stuff is taught already as part of a wider education, but I know from my own industry that plenty of kids seem to come out of school with no idea where food comes from, what art is “about” and why architecture is important. Even my own wife can’t tell the difference between sage, marjoram and tarragon growing in our herb trough outside the door.

I have no doubt that having a greater understanding of these things helps you to look beyond yourself, understand the world around you and further appreciate the inter-relationships between so many things in life. That has to be no bad thing, in my view.

Anyway, in other news we have today found out that we will not be liable for Capital Gains Tax when Hels finally sells her flat in the spring, which means that we are tonight celebrating with gin and tonics, noting the subtlety of the fine gin, the delicate tang of the quinine and the sharp twist of lime (or getting drunk, you decide).

Another year

Good news or bad news, depending on your point of view – I’ve just renewed the hosting or this site for another year, so you have at least another twelve months of this.