I'm keeping a low profile, after finding myself unpopular in Havering, as reported in the Romford Recorder (with the passage of time, the link doesn't work any more). I suppose if someone is going to take out a fatwah on me, I'd rather it was Humanists.
But we have been busy. Faced with the long summer vacation, Bob was on the lookout for projects, and a kind friend donated a 36 year old ride-on mower which had been abandoned in a field for several years. We have spent many oily and abortive hours on it, me rather more than him (I'd like to think this showcases my qualities of patience and dogged determination, but really it is because he had better things to do).
Yesterday we were finally rewarded when the 8 hp rear-mounted engine burst into life, drowning out the sound of a passing muck-spreader and filling the garage with exhaust. We high-fived, after which he had to go and swarfega his hand.
Today we will test the gears and drive. There is no steering wheel as yet, and it has a steering problem which I don't want to go into because it's embarrassing. We don't know if the clutch will engage, or once engaged, disengage. The test is therefore fraught with danger. My idea is to set the thing up crossways on the garage forecourt, facing a hedge, and delegate Bob to sit on board and work the gear lever and pedals. I shall stand well to one side, possibly wearing a helmet. On the scale of domestic accidents, it has the potential to be an unusual one, although more predictable than most.
Speaking of domestic accidents, the neighbours recently took off for a relaxing few days in their delightful moulin in the Limousin. On arrival, unlocking the front door, they disturbed a nest of particularly vicious, French-speaking bees. Under intense attack, she took off across an expanse of uncut meadow and leapt into the river. Landing on a submerged rock she damaged her leg, whilst her arm flew up and the car keys shot out of her hand into the drink.
Spurred by her cries he gallantly galumphed down, flailing his arms against the swarm, and plunged in after her, losing his glasses in the process. Her leg was not fully functional, so after crawling around the river bed and retrieving both specs and keys, he braved the still angry bees to try and bring the four-track down to the river to rescue her. Unfortunately everything was a bit overgrown and he reversed the back end into the medieval millrace.
Still under attack he managed to get her into the relative safety of the car and, with a coat over his head, began trying to lever it out with a baulk of timber as she revved. After several attempts, with smoke now pouring from the wheels, she opened the driver's window a crack and asked, 'Should I take the handbrake off?'