18th June 13:11
A Motor Spin
(from "A Fool on the Veld", Leonard Fleming, 1916)
What possessed me to make me spend the money in a motor-car I don't know.
Hitherto, whatever spare overdraft I had had in my life I had spent on
things that walked or ran, or fell down and died - cows and sheep and
things. But, as not one of my cows or sheep had ever gone through six
months without catching or developing some awful complaint, I had got rid
of nearly every animal I had on the farm, sent them away to a home for
incurables and determined to read a 40-volume Encyclopaedia on "Farming."
For relaxation I would have a motor trip occasionally.
I got the car, after having read adverti*****ts of twenty different makes,
each on of which was the best in the world; and for the overdraft it cost
me I got a week's tuition, a screw wrench, and a cleaning cloth chucked in.
When I got the car home it had two or three specks of dust on it and I
washed it all over, with Hendriks. Hendriks carried eleven buckets of water
from the spruit for me. I allowed Hendriks to blow the hooter once, as some
slight compensation. And it was the first time his face had looked at all
kindly during the whole of the three hours I was washing my new car.
Hendriks is a bit suspicious of any new innovation of mine, and I could see
Hendriks mistrusted my new motor car.
After breakfast the other morning I said to him, "Hendriks, I think I shall
have a spin in the motor; just wash it first."
I wash my car twice a day because it is a new car and a novelty and looks
nice. Later on I know it will be very lucky if it gets washed once a week,
but while the burning enthusiasm is strong within me I shall give unchecked
vent to it.
I went into the garage - the old cow-shed where the cows used to catch, or
die of diseases - and prepared for my little spin. What a thrill of joy
went through me as I gazed at the beautiful shiny new car! What rare
emotions it aroused! The things I had to wear for driving it I put to one
side. Wind-proof, dust-proof and rain-proof goggles; wind-proof,
dust-proof, rain-proof, wire-proof, and oil-proof coat; wind-proof,
oil-proof, rain-proof, etc., breeches, ditto gaiters, ditto gloves and
boots; and there was a motor muffler in case too much wind went down my
neck. I had used up several days of drought trying these all on, and had
cut the dressing time down from six hours to twenty minutes. It was nine
o'clock. I was going for a little spin to town 25 miles away, purchase a
cake of motor soap, and run back in time for lunch. (A lot of the running
back took place in the first drift, by the way.)
I had a look at the sprocket, gave a casual glance to the magneto ignition,
tapped the differential gear (so called, I have since discovered, because
it does something different each time), flicked a small dead insect off the
carburettor, and then got to work on that handle thing in front. I turned
it for an hour and five minutes exactly, and when I had finished I had
barked my knuckles, sprained my wrist, torn my shirt, and was perspiring
from head to foot. But what of that? Often I had barked my knuckles and
perspired in my work - I was perspiring for pleasure now.
The machine was buzzing away and frightening the life out of Hendriks, who
was still more frightened when I got in and told him to jump in too. I
haven't quite learnt yet how to start the car off slowly; I think I push
the starting gear lever down too suddenly or something - anyhow, I always
manage to make the car bound off - a sort of spring in the air - for about
twenty-five yards at a fearful pace; it happened this time, and the top
half of Hendriks was hanging over the back of the car when I slowed up.
After this we got along all right - at least, for a bit - then the car
broke down. You know the sort of thing I mean - something gives out or
gives in, and there you are - you read about it in every single story ever
something absurd - something went wrong. It shows motor-cars are meant to
go wrong - mine had stopped - and evidently meant to stop for ever - and
there I was, 12 miles from home and Heaven knows how far from help. What a
fool I had been to buy a car - a push-bike or a small trap and horse would
have done all my work. And why hadn't I realised before the beautiful
candidness of motor-car advertisers? Who has ever seen an adverti*****t of
a car going? Every adverti*****t that I had seen showed motor-cars at full
stop - stationary - not a movement - just like mine - a plain hint, surely!
Would-be car owners, make a note of that point. And here was my car - as
advertised - absolutely still, immovable and silent.
I had got a book of instructions with me, entitled "Every Man His Own
Mechanic." The idea of this book is to help you mend anything that is
broken. By carefully following the intstructions, what really happens is
that anything broken that you try to mend you really make worse than
before. I read through the book - Hendriks looked very solemn - I think he
thought I was reading a burial service. You've seen pictures of a chap on
the broad of his back underneath a motor-car! I did that for hours.
Hendriks, always stupid - even if a plough broke - was on this occasion a
hopeless, abject idiot.
I reached home at 11 p.m. on a borrowed horse, leaving Hendriks to sleep in
the car so that if it burst or did anything like that he'd know in which
direction the principal parts went.
The next morning I sent half a span of borrowed oxen for it.
Enthusiasts say that it's better to have whizzed and bust than never to have
whizzed at all.
I'm not so sure.
24th June 20:04
A Motor Spin
I'm not sure that is true - every, or most, villiages might have an idiot,
but these idiots are rather sensible and sane compared to the example you
Sylvia: "You must think me a stupid American bitch."
Neighbour: "Not at all, I assumed that you were Canadian" - dialogue from
the film 'Sylvia'
25th June 12:53
A Motor Spin
Simian expression slowly evaporates, and face returns to its usual blank
condition. Oh. No wonder it flew over my head. Thought you'd hit on an
extremely arcane form of humour. Try a Diahatsu Charade. We've just got one
of these for my mother, and it's about as economical as you'll get. Quite a
nippy little thing. Poor Mother hardly gets a chance to use it while the
novelty still exists.