MOST people would know me as a mild-mannered soul. I would like to think I never lose my temper when things get tricky and that my calm exterior promotes serenity all around me.
Ok, that might not be strictly true.
And I certainly wasn't feeling particularly cool when it came to trying to fit a pair of new windscreen wipers to Basil in the steaming temperatures of Saturdy afternoon.
Now, a visit to Halford's for me is about as common as a solar eclipse, but I had got to the stage where the stringy, rubbery bit on the underside of my wipers was flapping about like a wet fish on a harbour dock. It was actually spreading rain and gunk over the windscreen to such an extent that I would have done better to stick my head out of the side window to see where I was actually going.
Anyway, having got to motorist heaven I found it quite easy to pick up the wipers I needed thanks to looking at the necessary charts under the shelf. Then I went to the counter to purchase them. "Would you like us to fit them for you, sir," the girl behind the till enquired.
Feeling particularly macho and not wanting to look like a right wus, I declined. I remember having watched my mate Gareth changing some once in two seconds flat, and he has an IQ of minus 10.
So out I strolled to the car park in confident mood. Well, no, not really. Instead I turned to my loyal sidekick Wren and said: "You know something about cars. Your dad likes them. I think you should fix them on."
Hmmm. Looking at the back of the box, the instructions were absolutely nonsensical. We were on our own. I started pulling and poking to get the old windscreen wipers off, but I could see the look of fear in Wren's eyes. "Here let me do it - you might break them," she said.
Pah, fooey. Bit of brute force always works - and I'm the bloke in this relationship, I thought grumpily.
As we stood out in the baking sun wrestling with the wipers cars kept coming and going, meaning we had to move to let them park up. A succession of mechanic-type blokes gave us curious glances as we fought the mother of all battles to get the bloody things off. Eventually there was a snap. "Think I've broken this one," I said. Wren looked at me coldly.
But, no, it was ok. It was only the bit of the wiper that needed to come off anyway.
Then it came to fitting the new ones. I struggled a bit before Wren elbowed me aside. She then studied the implement carefully and started messing around with a little clip, confidently lining it up with the bit still attached to the car. She pushed it on, but it wouldn't go any further. I muscled in. "It probably needs some force," I said, that being my answer to everything.
I push, tugged and prodded and gritted my teeth in furious reaction. How can such a poxy little thing be so hard to fit.
"Perhaps we should go back and asked them to fit it," ventured Wren bravely.
My blood-red face told her differently, as did the steam coming out of my ears. There was no way that I was going to look an even bigger numpty by admitting defeat. To be honest, what I really wanted to do was enter into the noble art of Fuckuso in which you swing a pair of windscreen wipers around your head like numchucks and throw them at the nearest smug-looking bloke in a grease-stained blue overall you can find.
Instead I pushed harder on the wiper and... click.
Ha, no you're wrong - I didn't break it! It actually fitted in.
Then I looked at Wren. "I think we've done it," I exclaimed. Oh joy.
But how did we figure it out? Neither of us really knew and we had one more to do.
Soon afterwards it appeared that Wren had broken the passenger's side wiper. A clip came lose and I couldn't see how it was possibly going to work now. I was all ready to storm back into Halfords and buy a replacement.
"No, it's fine," she assured me. "It will all clip together once it's fitted on."
I believed her. I believed her so strongly that I then had a silent strop, walked around the other side of the car and rolled a cigarette. Very helpful. Spirit of teamwork and all that.
And Wren battled on gamely - 15 minutes later it was job done. My contribution = a bit of brute force and a cantankerous strop. Wren had done the rest... and it had only taken around 40 minutes, time which would have been so much more enjoyably spent on the beach.
Do I know from this experience how to fit new wipers in future? Absolutely not.
Followed that with a trip to a chip shop that Paps recommended. We spoke to Pete the Greek and I ordered two cod and chips, mine with curry sauce, Wren's with mushy peas. We then went home and ate them in the paper. A lovely treat.