A common refrain heard from friends, garage mechanics and even AA Patrolmen is, "Cars these days are so complicated, so electronic; they aren't designed for the ordinary man to do maintenance." So they are. And I am not one of the few who would dabble under the bonnet 'these days.' The problem is, I am not so great at old-fashioned, simple mechanical engines either. Never have been. After my Royal Artillery Young Officers Course at Larkhill they sent us to the Cavalry headquarters at Bovington in Dorset to do a Driving and Maintenance Course. In theory, if we didn't know how vehicles should be maintained, how could we inspect them in our regiments and keep required standards? The first lesson on the course was about nuts and bolts. Our instructor lost me at, 'Mornin' Gents.' I should have paid attention. I didn't. Big mistake. Had I applied myself then I might not have spent the whole afternoon today trying to figure out why my 2 stroke petrol engine strimmer would not start.
Oh, and I tried. How I tried. I drained the fuel, drained the fuel pipes, cleaned the spark plug, cleaned the carburettor, cleaned the air filter, cleaned the fuel filter; all to no avail. I know friends who strip down entire engines and rebuild them. I know one fellow who rebuilds classic cars and even another who went racing around Monza this weekend. Yet I can't get a bloody garden strimmer to spark into life. The casual reader would be mistaken in believing I am overcome with deep feelings of inadequacy. I am not. For I see a challenge before me. Next weekend I will strip that wretched thing back to the bare metal and rebuild it from scratch. The easy way out in our disposable society would be to bin it and buy another. We don't do easy here and I may have an edge.... I didn't test the electrical circuit today. There is always one more thing to try...... before I call that guy who rebuilds E-Types.
Staring defeat in the face I retired to the kitchen in search of a sundowner pick-me-up. Morale plummeted when, after a frantic search, I concluded that we were out of gin. 'I know,' I thought, 'lets have a cocktail; I'll make a margarita.' Good plan except the lonely lime left standing would not cover it. I'm a resourceful cove though and am happy to share my new discovery; the Lemon & Basil Margarita. I prefer it with crushed ice but feel free to experiment. It has brought rather an uplift to an otherwise dispiriting afternoon. It remains to be seen if the garden strimmer or the margarita will prove to be my nemesis.