This Friday just gone, Mr Carmichael and I patted ourselves on our ever broadening backs. We had finally worked out the secret to weekend entertaining and thus the secret to having a good weekend.
The secret is, da da daaa drum roll, entertain on Friday evening (leaving Saturday for yourselves) and (this bit’s important) don’t tell the guests they’re invited until they arrive for drinks.
All the pressure is removed and they, so grateful to be wined and dined as opposed to just wined and thrown in a taxi, accept any foodage offering as unadulterated manna from Heaven.
Case closed and a full weekend to do whatever we bloody want awaits.
Saturday we did whatever we bloody wanted which among other things involved Mr C shouting at the TV (cricket, golf, more cricket) and Yours Truly spending way too long on my pc. But at least we chose to do those things so that is a good thing.
Because we were too busy yesterday shouting and typing to go out, my present husband and I agreed we would have an outing to the movies and see North Norfolk’s answer to Rambo (aka Alan Partridge) in his new production Alpha Papa which got very good Simon Mayo reviews on Five Live this week.
We wanted a laugh, it is a proper length for a film (90 minutes) and when we checked, just to be uber organised, it was on at a great time, 11.50, so we would have the whole rest of the day to shout at the TV and get back onto WordPress.
We still agreed to go this morning. You may think that’s not worth the mention but oh so many times we flake out at the last moment so this was another good thing.
“Do you want the 2.20 showing?” we were asked by the popcorn/ticket sales girl.
Quizzical look, “No, the 11.50, please.” Sinking stomach.
Well, you’ve guessed it. Either their website was wrong (it wasn’t) or I’d not refreshed from Saturday (I hadn’t) or Mr Carmichael hadn’t checked as he said he had (he hadn’t).
Remind me to tell you about the time he bought tickets for us to go to James Bond but got them for a Glasgow viewing. We live on the outskirts of London. Bad things have been known to happen so we did not argue with the staff who offered us The Lone Ranger (please God, no), Monsters University or The Smurfs.
Now I’m laughing but I wasn’t at the time.
“All I’ve got to look forward to today is the food shopping.”
“Tesco’s got a new concept store opening this weekend. Shall we go there?” Mr Carmichael asked me.
“Is there another Waitrose you’d like to try then?”
“No.” (ever so slightly louder)” I would like, in the broadest sense of the word, to go to the store that I happen to know where everything is,” I responded. “What do you want for dinner?”
Well (and this is a rare occurrence) he mentioned something I had in the freezer. No trip to the supermarket needed. My mood improved.
I decided I would carpe diem and make an long overdue trip to IKEA on the North Circular for bits and bobs and a jolly good mooch.
And this is where the ugly hoves into sight.
I took the Mini. The last time I drove the Mini I did ask Daughter #2 to remind me to ask Mr C to fill up the radiator because it has a crack and the fan wasn’t turning off.
I remembered I hadn’t remembered to ask him when I was on the M25.
I started to glance at the temperature gauge with some trepidation and much regularity.
It was fine.
Until I reached a jam at the bottom of the M1. The queue went onto the North Circular in the westerly direction I wanted.
Here is a map of the round about where the Mini’s temperature hit critical:
I had seconds to do something.
How do I know it was seconds, you ask.
Because it has happened before.
Only knocking two orange cones over and careering in front of a London cab (they’re good drivers so I hoped his breaking reaction would be good)I managed to veer into Brent Cross’ car park.
I was hyperventilating but the needle came down as I drove at speed.
So I continued to drive at speed until I got to some available parking.
There was no scalding steam bubbling from the bonnet which was a good thing so, making the best of a bad job, I decided to spend some money in the shops, wait for the engine to cool, buy a six pack of Evian water and load up the radiator in an hour or two.
The afternoon was salvageable. Or so I thought.
The first clothes emporium I entered was displaying winter dresses. I rushed out covering my eyes.
The second, the same. All summer goodies relegated to sale rails.
I decided to skip the clothes shopping and head straight for the make-up. I also decided I should alert Mr C to the potential barrage of phone calls he could expect from me momentarily when I was struggling to 1) open the bonnet, 2) locate the water container and/or 3) return home safely.
Digging round in my handbag I discovered I had left my wallet at home.
Here it is:
Pause for you to digest this and its ramifications.
“This day, ” I said to Mr C, “is going from bad to worse.”
“For all of us,” he replied.
How so, Sir?
But you know what I didn’t rise to that and told him I was off to make some friends in the guise of car cleaners, some of whom do speak a good level of English.
They had no water but directed me to a pushy button that I pushed to call Security.
“Hi there,” I shouted at the wall, “my car’s overheated and I was going to buy bottled water from Waitrose but I’ve left my wallet at home. Can you help me, please?”
They sent Natalie up. She was ever so nice but knew little about cars and arrived without water.
We went to find Sheila who knew less about cars than either me or Natalie but had the kind of ‘can do’ spirit that I like and respect in a security guard.
She led us firstly to the Ladies’ loos for a clean bucket and the Burger King for a large paper cup for pouring. Clever.
The three of us headed back to the Mini via the car washers for a rag to prevent scalding burns.
We couldn’t get the bonnet open. But then I found not only the Owners Handbook but my reading glasses as well. These finds were very good things.
We got the bonnet open and felt pretty positive we had located the radiator cap.
All three of us were too scared to open the cap, even with the car cleaner’s rag.
Sheila called for backup.
“Come in 41, assistance required on level 3.”
Hutch came in, flicked the cap off, filled the rad, explained to the three of us how my car worked, cautioned me to stay out of jams (easier said than) and sent me on my nervous way back up the M1.
Did I mention the wasp’s nest I’ve just discovered over the front door?