On Friday I took my car over to Witchford for a thorough going-over by Iain Allen ("Minor Services"). I got hopelessly lost on the drive over there, but the minor stress (no pun intended) caused by this was more than outweighed by the pleasant drive in the winter sun, along raised fen roads through wide-open countryside.
Lots of things needed fixing with the car, and Mr Allen and his fellow mechanic (John?) were happy to let me watch, and even help in places. Definitely a good learning experience, plus of course a much happier moggy at the end of it!
My car now has a new distributor cap and new ignition leads, the latter of which required a bit of a hatchet job with a stanley knife in order to get them to fit the former. The leads now actually stay on the plugs without the aid of tinfoil (Not My Botch, don't ask me).
She also now has working brakes -- apparently it was a miracle that she passed her MOT given that the right front brake had one cylinder(? is that what you call them?) completely locked up and the other quite stiff. She certainly has much better braking now that all the crud (years of accumulated rubber grease, as far as we could tell) has been cleaned out of her brakes, although the braking is still uneven; the reason for this, however, is that some clever muppet changed the left front brake for a later model, so it's effectively just a stronger brake than the other one no matter what we do to it.
The carburettor is in a bit of a sorry state, and it looks like I'm going to need a new (well, reconditioned) one before too long. The choke cable was just too frayed to be fixed, so currently my choke is somewhere around the "chocolate teapot" level of usefulness; however, that can all be done when I get the new carb fitted, and in the meantime it just means she's not going to be getting as good mpg as I might otherwise. (Fortunately the choke is stuck open, otherwise I wouldn't stand a cat's chance in hell of starting her in cold weather.)
The mystery of the missing fourth cylinder (she's only been firing on three, intermittently) has been solved -- one of them has lost quite a lot of compression, and AIUI this is basically not fixable. :-/ As it is she seems to pick up the fourth cylinder eventually after she's been running for a while (not sure how this works -- IA did explain, but I can't remember what his explanation was), so it's officially Not Urgent.
I now have a working speedometer, for sufficiently small values of "working". That is, the arm wobbles around all over the place to the extent that (allowing for the fact that it's over-registering by at least 5mph) I can guess my speed to within an accuracy of about 20mph. This speedo is only on loan, however, while mine (which we believe was the Actual Original One From The Car) gets reconditioned. (I'm keeping careful notes of the mileage, don't worry.) I wonder if this model was just fundamentally inaccurate, or whether perhaps the newly reconditioned one will be better...
Little stuff: The rear right wheel still has a bit of a wobble to it, but has (on closer inspection) has lots of weights added at some point to correct this. Hm. To be honest I don't notice it when the car's going, but it's something to keep an eye on.
The couple of patches of rust (floor on driver side; inside boot) have been inspected and deemed user-fixable, so that's all down to me and my brushes and rust-primer. They replaced the rubber seal for the inside of the bonnet (I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't notice it was perishing, though I did notice the equivalent one on the boot) -- they didn't have any boot seals so I'll have to do that later. The boot locks on early moggies were, apparently, always a bit rubbish; so I will probably have to replace that if I want a reliable lock. (In the meantime, I just won't be leaving anything valuable in the boot.) The steering wheel nut has been tightened -- easy job, but it needs such a huge socket that it's hardly surprising we didn't have one kicking around at home.
Unfortunately at some point between getting to Witchford and arriving back at our house I managed to lose a hubcap. :-( It's not still at the garage, which means it must have come off somewhere on the way -- though I still find it really hard to believe I didn't *hear* it! -- and while they're happy to give me a new hubcap (since they suspect that if it came off then they just didn't clip it on properly) I do feel grotty about having lost one. OTOH apparently the chrome on the hubcaps for this model was really poor quality, so it's unlikely that they were the originals anyway.
I only got marginally lost on the way back, and had to pull over in services on the A10 at one point to ride out the rainstorm -- one thing my car does *not* do well is windscreen-wiping.
daneel_olivaw had already been in Cambridge for a while by the time I got back, in fact had already been sitting in his car on our road for ages -- sorry! Even more sorry that I then ended up dragging him out all the way along the A10 again in an (unsuccessful) attempt to find my lost hubcap... and then, pretty much as soon as we got back, out again to a cam.misc meet at the Carlton Arms and then on to simont's party. sion_a was just too ill to go out or do anything... I felt guilty leaving him on his own but to be honest I do find it so hard to talk to him when he's ill; I end up feeling guilty for using up his energy by expecting him to listen to me. :-(
The cam.misc meet was impressive, don't think I've ever seen so many people in the Carlton's lounge bar! However I didn't really talk to anybody who I didn't already know... spent most of the time there talking to lnr, ewx, simonb, ottah, angua, and daneel_olivaw (when he wasn't busy frightening saraphale). Would have liked to chat to some more of the cam.misc folks, but on the other hand I haven't posted to cam.misc since Christmas so they've probably all forgotten who I am.
Oh, at some point during that evening I worked out (when ottah relayed a "check your voicemail" message to me from daneel_olivaw) that my nice shiny new phone doesn't bloody tell me when I have voicemail. Gah. So please, everybody, don't leave voicemail on my phone, otherwise I may never see it -- SMS me instead!
simont's party was a good party in a lot of ways, but to be honest I ended up just feeling more and more guilty about stressing simont so much. He didn't seem to be enjoying the party at all, everybody kept calling him over to see something or do something or say something, and I think he really needed to just say "NO!" occasionally. Unfortunately I think I just made a mess of trying to say this at the time ... I really wasn't very sober by that time. I was, however, sober enough to log into LJ and forcibly drag fanf into the world's biggest timesink. (Bad jaffa. No biscuit.)
Spent Saturday morning faffing with Stuff That Needed Doing, which included phoning Cambridge Kitchens (only to find that our contact there wasn't in); phoning two different counselling organisations (only to find that there was no answer from either); and phoning First Direct to ask why they hadn't got back to me about the cc account I'd applied for (only to find that they had, and this time it was Cambridge postal service being useless).
Went into town on Saturday afternoon to find a birthday present for simonb -- I'd intended to buy him something at the party but decided I'd feel more comfortable buying him something less, um, dodgy. (I don't generally buy That Kind Of Thing for anybody other than myself, let alone people I'm not likely to be using That Kind Of Thing with...) Then home for dinner and a lightning-quick change of clothes (if such a thing is possible when the people getting changed are three goths...) before going out to the party.
ottah had managed to successfully keep the content of the party a surprise from simonb, so I can only imagine his surprise when he saw half the kitchen surfaces covered with bright colourful sex toys courtesy of Richie Winter Ltd.. The idea was something like an Ann Summers party, only without the daft games and -- no offense to Ann Summers, they're just targeting a slightly different market -- a range of toys better suited to the kinds of people we had there.
They also had some gorgeous clothes, but (probably fortunately for my cashflow) the item that most tempted me -- a lovely red-and-black corset, of which there was only one available -- was snapped up first by bellinghwoman. To be fair, it will probably look miles better on her! And instead (since I couldn't have afforded two expensive things I don't really need) I bought something big and buzzy. Also something small and shiny, and something bigger and bloopy. :) The people from Richie Winter say they'd quite like a review of the big-and-buzzy one, since I'll be one of the first people in the country to use it, so I may have to post more about that to my LJ. (I'm actually considering getting a second journal specifically for really-really-TMI stuff. I wouldn't make restricted posts on that either, but it'd mean that the people who really weren't interested and/or were squicked by it -- or had evil work firewalls! -- could just ignore that one.)
The rest of the party was every bit as good as the shopping part; lots of lovely people, good food, good drink, and some simply terrifying experiments with vodka. I decided that the vanilla vodka was too strong, and the blue vodka (raspberry jelly beans IIRC?) was too weird, but the ginger vodka (containing a metric fuckload of ginger) was, as the little girl with the bear fixation says, "Just Right".
Sunday was quieter; I woke up early (and, amazingly, didn't feel hungover!) and left sion_a to sleep off a bit more of his cough/cold while I pottered around, bathed my icky eczema-ified foot in salt water (okay, maybe that sort of TMI could go in the other journal as well), and read a sizeable portion of The Grand Complication, by Allen Kurtzweil, which ewx very kindly gave me on Friday night. It's about librarians, enclosures, words, and strange obsessions ... I suspect addedentry would love it. More about that if I actually manage to finish it!
Pottered out with sion_a to see if we could find some of the better-hidden car-parts shops in Cambridge, only to discover that most of the ones we'd found in the Yellow Pages were trade-only. We did, however, discover the delights of Discount Autoparts -- I don't think I'll ever need to go to Halfords for anything car-related again!
On Sunday afternoon sion_a had to work, and I decided that it was such a lovely day that I couldn't bear to stay in the house. It's clear (to me, at least) that the best way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon in early Spring is by driving around the Cambridgeshire countryside with one's girlfriend in a Morris Minor. Fortunately lnr didn't object, so we went to potter around Ely. Had a look at the cathedral, which really is stunning; then accidentally wandered into a bookshop called Topping Books. Since the subject matter wasn't remotely D/S-related, I can only assume they mean "Topping" in the sense of "Smashing", "Super", and (hopefully not literally) "Ripping". Either that, or a Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Topping is currently wondering why people giggle at the name of their lovely peaceful bookshop. I couldn't resist buying a Chalet School book -- it's "the first new Chalet School book in over 25 years!", although the reason there haven't been any others is that the author has been dead, so this one is just a fake Chalet School book. Still, I'd be interested to see what this IMPOSTER has made of Brent-Dyer's characters.
On the way home, we rather appropriately ended up on Car Dyke Road. If only one of us had had a camera...
Back at work now after a long weekend, and after a reasonable start (where I actually got some work done) I'm back to faffing again. I have, however, managed to: phone Cambridge University Press to rearrange my interview with them tomorrow (for the post of Development Editor [Humanities and Social Sciences]); phone Cambridge Kitchens and arrange a meeting with them to discuss our kitchen design on Saturday; phoned the Cogwheel Trust to try to arrange an initial counselling session (to see if they can find a counsellor who's suited to me); and phoned Yorkshire Studios to arrange a portfolio session. None of which were things I really wanted to have to do at work, apart from the kitchens stuff, but there's rarely any other time I can do things like this. Sigh.