There has been quite a lot of this week: I’ve had ten lectures to give, there was a PhD viva to organise, the Northern Professor is even now at Edzell castle talking to art historians about planetary deities, and we have a cultivated and arboricultural friend staying. He was supposed to be bringing up the Professor’s painting, which we have finally paid for, but the Ancestor turned out to be too big to fit in the car. He will arrive on Monday by Shore Porters’ van. We were about to do the shopping in advance of said friend’s arrival (neither of us had to go in on Wednesday, thank goodness) when the unlovely little blue car we have had for four years went dead. All I can say in mitigation of this state of affairs is that it went dead in our driveway and neither on the track, nor on the Haudagain Roundabout. Our cheerful and obliging local garage took it away. Best guess was the starter motor. We took taxis to and from work on Thursday. The garage, on our eventual return, said, well, it wasn’t the starter motor, but something a bit more deep structure, which is to say, as they did say, ‘no’ looking good’. I got a lift in yesterday with the Laird of the Pink Castle who had business in Old Aberdeen, and took the bus back. I was between two of the day’s three lectures, gulping a cup of tea at my desk when the phone rang. The Professor reported that the car had been declared legally dead: its engine had self-destructed (I forget how), and it would cost about £900 to sort out the mess. This being rather more than the thing is worth. We have total faith in the honesty of this garage, partly from good experiences and mostly because Miss T’s dad does, and being a car-mechanic is where he started in life. It was obvious that the only answer was to acquire another car, and made every sort of sense just to get something from them and not mess about, so the Prof was ringing to report that a black VW Polo had suddenly entered our lives. Inured as we are to things being terribly complicated and bureaucratic, he sounded a bit dazed: somehow acquiring the car, insurance, University parking sticker and all that and all that had been surprisingly swift and unproblematic, to such an extent that you could almost do it in a fit of absence of mind. I had visions of people nipping out for half a dozen eggs and coming back with a Maserati instead. We’ve been worrying about the car for a goodish while so in a way it’s a relief that the question was taken out of our hands, and rather good that the whole thing took about fifteen minutes. And we can just about afford it. For our next trick, with any luck, we will recognise the damn thing in the Park n’Ride car-park. It may take us a while.
PS. One individual who is strangely missing from the week’s panorama is Tony the Gardener. The arboricultural friend had gallantly signed up for a day of arboriculture — we want to plant more trees in the big field, which looks a bit bleak. However, this was to be done in conjunction with T the G. who I regret to say is conspicuous by his absence.