My apologies to any of you who were expecting to read Our Lisa's usual lovely offerings. Lisa is battling a deadline and is playing a substitute—or should that be a joker?
Anyway, just to amuse you, here's a piece I wrote some time ago, when I was contributing a regular column to a magazine specialising in all things car stereo and security related under the heading Random Play. This was written under the title 'Taking And Driving Away' and I hope it takes Lisa's mind off her aching hands and equally frazzled brain.
“I sympathise, of course,” said the man with both hands coated in gold rings, “but getting your car nicked round here is just a fact of life.” He put a tenner on the bar and waited for his change to be plonked down in a puddle of spilt beer.
“I wouldn’t have minded so much,” said his companion, lifting his nose out of his gin and tonic, “if I hadn’t just spent a bleeding fortune having this big alarm system put on the damn thing. Battery back-up sirens, anti-jacking device, impact sensors, you name it.”
“Garaged as well, was it?” asked the man with the rings.
“Garaged? That was half the problem! The little beggars put a dustbin in front of me garage doors and when I got out to shift it, prior to parking up and setting said alarm, one of them hopped out of me laburnum and made off with me motor, seat still warm.”
“That’s nothing,” chipped in a man in a casual leather jacket from next along the bar. “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help overhearing.”
“You’ve had one swiped as well, have you?” asked the man with the gin and tonic. They found an empty table and sat around it, propping up the uneven leg with a cigarette packet handy for the purpose.
“Swiped? Have I! Picture the scene. Holiday in Italy, see the sights of Roma, go to a Pope gig. I nipped out into a shop to ascertain the time of the next performance and a couple of minutes later the car was away on the back of a tow truck.”
“That’s nothing—” began the man with the rings.
“My wife,” said the man in the leather jacket heavily, “was sitting in the passenger seat at the time.”
“Good God. Did they find her?”
“Not a sign. All I got back was the wife.”
“So then,” continued the man with the leather jacket, tearing open a packet of dry roasted peanuts so that most of the contents scattered onto the carpet, “I bought myself a pair of Rottweilers and planted them on the back seat. Savage brutes, rip your arm off at the shoulder and beat you to death with the wet end, soon as look at you, but even that didn’t work.”
“Why not?” inquired the man with the gin and tonic, hunting through the open packet for the whole peanuts.
“I offered an income tax inspector a lift to work and it turned out he wasn’t really a dog person. They identified him by his dental records and I had to let the dogs go.”
“Destroyed, eh? Shame.’
“No, no, I sold them. Made a vast profit, as it turned out. No, then I went for the last-resort method. Climb into the car without punching in the correct code and the shotgun behind the driver’s seat let you have both barrels.”
“A bit extreme perhaps,” said the man with the rings meditatively. “Surely that must have worked?”
“For a while it did. Of course, there were one or two drawbacks—the blood on the carpet, the bits of brain in the heater vents and the smell! I was getting through vanilla Magic Tree air freshener by the bucket load, I can tell you. No, finally the gun misfired and away they went, would you credit it.”
“Sneaky,” agreed the man with the gin and tonic, picking his teeth with the end of his cocktail stick. The man with the gold rings went to the bar and returned with another round of drinks and a packet of pork scratchings.
“Well, then I thought I’d go for the devious approach,” said the man with the leather jacket. “So every time I parked up I used to break a couple of windows, scratch the paintwork, nick the alloys, put it up on bricks, and remove the seats, the steering wheel, the stereo, and part of the fuel injection system.”
“Amazing,” said the man with the gin and tonic admiringly, casually shredding a beer mat. “It takes a real mind to come up with something like that. Did it work?”
“Well, the car never actually got stolen,” the other admitted, “but I had terrible trouble with the council constantly towing it away and I herniated myself carrying all the bits round.”
“I can see as how it would be a bit inconvenient,” commented the man with the gin and tonic, “having to lug a set of wheels plus tyres into a business meeting.”
“It wasn’t so much that as the fuel injection leaking petrol all over the inside of my briefcase. Lit an after-dinner cigar to celebrate closing a big deal and incinerated the client.”
“So you gave up then, did you?” asked the man with the rings, scraping some of the excess froth off his beer with a pork scratching.
“No, I never said that. Never give in to them! I carefully lined the inside of the entire car with tin foil and hooked it up to the mains, let the little beggars have two hundred and forty volts in one blast. Dimmed half of Battersea the first time it went off. It was very upsetting for the wife, though. She’s rather partial to Chinese cuisine and now she says she’ll never be able to look at Peking crispy duck in the same light again.”
“But it did work, didn’t it?” demanded the man with the gin and tonic. “It did stop them making off with your motor?”
“Well, yes and no,” conceded the man with the leather jacket.
“What do you mean, yes and no?”
“They didn’t steal it, no,” he said carefully. “The little beggars set fire to the damn thing instead. Here’s to public transport!”
And on a completely different note, I heard a wonderful classical piece today on an instrument I'd never encountered before—a viola da gamba. It has a fabulous, sonorous, almost mournful tone. This is Marianne Muller playing Sainte Colombe, Suite in D minor.