Friday, March 07, 2008

Light & Shade

Tonight I attended a lively poetry night in Coventry at the Liquid Cafe Bar. Colin Dick, local artist and poet, was one of the readers, even though he's now experiencing serious problems with mobility. Jane Commane read too, graduate of the Warwick Creative Writing Programme and heavily involved in Heaventree Press in Coventry; she was also MCing the event in Jon Morley's absence. Various other local writers came to the mic. Myself included.

It was a good evening. The next one is being held on April 3rd, when Mario Petrucci will be the guest reader.

Then, on my way home, luckily only a mile or so from my house, my car abruptly and spectacularly died.

The exhaust started smoking as I left Coventry; twenty minutes later, there was a strong smell of burning, steam billowing about the car. Then the engine died as I slowed for a corner and wouldn't restart for a few minutes.

I had driven maybe another hundred yards when the needle spiked dramatically into the red. The stench of burning was incredible, steam pouring from under the bonnet and out of the exhaust. It was after midnight by then. I pulled onto a rough track and rang my husband, who turned up some fifteen minutes later armed with oil, water, a tow-rope.

Turns out the head gasket had blown, there was a leak somewhere and the cooling system was completely empty. And the car had only been back on the road for six weeks after a spell of some five months on SORN, due to too-expensive repairs to the exhaust and the heater matrix. So once again, Jane is without wheels.

However, checking my emails when I finally stumbled in, I discovered that a piece of short fiction I wrote for the US market a few years ago had been shortlisted for some American fiction award in 2007. It didn't win, unfortunately, but it's always nice to know you were shortlisted for some prize or other. Something nice and something nasty to round off a complicated week.

Looks like the kids and I will be walking to school for the foreseeable future.


The Poet Laura-eate said...

I utterly sympathise having just had to spend £600 on a new Rover 400 head gasket. Apparently white smoke billowing out of the exhaust almost always signifies that the head gasket has gone!

Jane Holland said...

We're not even going to bother. The car cost two grand three years ago; since then, we've sunk the same amount again and more into her by way of repairs.

The head gasket was the final straw. After consultation with men in suits, we're borrowing some MORE money for another heap of rust, in the hope that this one won't break down every six weeks or so.

There's something to be said, I feel, for living in London and being able to survive perfectly adequately without a car. Here in Warwickshire, if you don't have a car - especially with loads of young kids underfoot and medieval public transport - life swiftly becomes impossible.