Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Of cars and cleaning

My car is a rather clapped out Corsa called Charlie. I have had him for nearly six years; that’s longer than some marriages last. But I am not kind to him. He is forced to do a 100-mile round trip five days a week; I tell people in his hearing that I want a diesel and I openly lust after a 4x4 with horsebox pulling capabilities. But I think, deep down, it is the lack of TLC that hurts him the most.

My brother, who is an avid Top Gear viewer, adores his car. It is regularly cleaned inside and out. It is on intimate terms with Turtle Wax and air freshener-impregnated cards that dangle from the mirror. Charlie, in contrast, never even gets a bath. His boot is full of dirty winter horse rugs, his back seat further covered in horse paraphernalia – numnahs, bits, parts of bridles, boots, plus plastic bags containing feed dregs and the odd mummified carrot.

My granddad grimaces whenever I give him a lift. He is wary of putting his feet on crisp packets and sweet papers, bits of string, more carrier bags and finds from the fields: broken cut glass decanter tops and a rusted metal crescent that I believe is an ancient bracelet but others with no imagination think was used to attach pipes to a wall.

It was worse when I smoked. The footwell debris was joined by dozens of empty fag packets. Once, when Charlie went for his MOT, someone wrote ‘clean me out’ on one of those ciggie boxes and propped it on the dashboard. Another time, the mechanic told my dad he wouldn’t touch Charlie again unless he arrived in a presentable state.

Perhaps it's a man thing.


26 comments:

Gill said...

Cleaning cars is very bad for them and exposes the body metal to corrosive elemnts. Also under new EEC regulations every car must be lined with a nest of soft materials to lessen collision impact in an emergency. That's what I tell my car anyway.(His name is Captain Scarlet btw because hopefully, unlike my last crunched up Peugeot, he is INDESTRUCTIBLE.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth do you give your car a name ?? How ridiculous. And are you a messy woman ?? Dirty, dirty, dirty girl...

dulwichmum said...

I do know what you mean. Only men clean cars. Mine is full of empty boxes from the childrens raisins, and pieces of rice cake and banana skin...

mutterings and meanderings said...

Gill, I like the nest of soft materials idea. I shall explain this to Charlie ..

Anon, as I talk to my car, I feel it is important he has a name...

Dulwichmum, perhaps men clean cars because they don't clean houses?

Stay at home dad said...

My car has half the country's insect population plastered to its bonnet and recently elicited a refusal from the mother-in-law to sit in the back on account of the inch-thick layer of child muck.

Mopsa said...

Life is much too short to be spent cleaning your car - once a year max is what my roadhog gets. It smells cosily of large dog, red diesel and greasy tractor parts. I suspect that if I was stranded in the snow on the A30 I could last at least 48 hours on the tiny food particles littering its interior. It's my inner teenager at the fore - I HAVE to keep the bedroom tidy now I'm an adult and I share, but my car is mine own.

I Beatrice said...

Late in the day M&M, I visit you to say thank you for the instructions you sent me weeks ago on 'how to add a link list'. I found them again yesterday, followed them to the letter (they were splendidly clear!) and voila - I have a link list at last!

I have also enjoyed seeing your comments here and there over the weeks - and enjoyed your own blog, in which I recognised many traits of my own...

I shall come again for sure.

The Secretary said...

I have a Citroen C3 in silver and it is 3 years old - I am keeping hold of it to give to my eldest son who is 17 next year, as his first car. It has never been cleaned since getting it - I leave it on the drive and the rain washes it, very eco friendly! My son does not want my car as the inside of it has never been cleaned either, and even I am am ashamed of it.

Gill said...

anon- why WOULDN'T you give your car a name? The concept seems bizarre to me.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Mine just gets a wipe over with a wet rag that's usually then used for washing up and wiping down the work tops. Mmm, sounds like competition..!

debio said...

Not sure it is a man-thing this car cleaning!
I must confess to being obsessional about keeping my car in tip-top condition and, although I don't clean it myself here, I used to clean my car in the UK. I am also a mechanical freak - enjoy looking at engines etc.
I know I'm sad - to recognise one's obsessions is even sadder.

lady macleod said...

LOL I think you are right about it being a man thing. When I had an automobile I thought of it as a big purse, albeit I was very kind to it with regular check-ups and nice words. I have found machinery responds to that sort of thing. I agree with gill that cleaning the car is corrosive to the paint.

rilly super said...

M&M, the question is, whether charlie is a charles or a charlotte...

I bet if your car could talk he or she would call you charlie's angel though

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Isn't it funny how some men say their cars and female but some women have male cars? I have a Minty (after that bloke in Eastenders)and David has a Betty.

Minty's boot is full of old shoes, a box of crackers that are just dust and empty crisp packets. The bag seat is covered in dog drool and remnants of Mackenzie's munchies. The front seat still smells, on hot days, of the hot chocolate I spilt on it in November. And the drivers pocket is full of CDs in their wrong covers and empty wine gum wrappers.

mutterings and meanderings said...

SAHD, another sign you are morphing into a female...

Mopsa, I want a car that runs on red diesel...

Secretary, don't give it to your son, give it to me!!

Giull, every car I have owned has had a name ..

CJ, that's luxury, that is...

Debio, see comment to SAHD but swap over ... ;)

Lady M, it is true - it does respond!

Rilly, that's very kind. I did have one called Orlando, because I couldn't decide on its gender...

NMO, a girl after my own heart!

Omega Mum said...

Clean your car and it will immediately get used to the notion of being treated well and refuse to start unless given a full wax 'n' valet clean weekly. I have been there. Don't start, it's not worth it.

Arthur Clewley said...

so cars are female after all them, omega mum...

Anonymous said...

I endorse the statement that only men clean cars. I am a woman BUT I do like a clean, shiny and car.

It's a bit of a dilemma to be honest. I oscillate between a valeting service (pricey but effective), whining at my husband until he gives in (less pricey but marginally less effective) young entrepreneurs brandishing brushes (not pricey but not remotely effective) and doing it myself.

Hmm, maybe your way is better. I need to school myself ...

@themill said...

I think cars thrive on neglect. Husband suggests I treat it like my handbag and just throw everything into the bottom of it. Mine has done 230,000 miles with nary a hint of turtlewax.- until today. Have just got it back from valeting service because I spilled a pint of milk over the back seat and I knew the smell would be unbearable by the height of the summer. I now scarcely recognise it and rather afraid it will fall to bits, as I suspect it was held together by detritus.
It's also diesel and has survived having petrol put into it - twice.

Brom said...

I like your attitude. In 95% of cases a car is just a box on wheels that goes from A to B. Saloon cars are just so boring.

The thinker said...

I used to be very 'car proud' and it was always getting dents and dings [which i always paid to have removed] from other less perfect cars in car parks. Now that i've left it in a filthy uncared for state with dents and bashes all on display - other car drivers now give me a wide berth when they choose to park next to me!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

oh m&M, like sweet music to my ears to hear of another untidy person! And you seem quite bullish about this, not a shred of self-loathing. I have so much to learn from you scruffy M&m!
pIGX (DOn't know wha'ts going on with the cpa caps lock, sorry)

ltlmomma said...

I KNOW ONLY MEN CLEAN CARS FOR SOME REASON THEY WONT CLEAN HOUSE BUT THEY WILL CLEAN CARS INSIDE AND OUT, DIRTY BASTARDS

Sarnia said...

I cleaned my car once (couple of months back). It was ok but not something I'd want to do on a regular basis.

st said...

All men clean cars.Bollocks(man enough),
That's what rain is for. My car only gets cleaned at trade in, as i don't see why anybody else,should put up with my rubbish.
I can live with a slightly untidy house, but it has to be clean, something i don't mind doing. The car is just a machine, maintain it and it will last,clean, wax and polish. Yiur only creating unnecessary work.
Woman where's me beer

Liz said...

I cleaned Betty, my Beetle, last week. It was the first time I have ever cleaned her; she looked so different afterwards!

Husband cleans his car every week.