I have changed a tyre. Oh yes. That surprised you, didn’t it? Thought I was totally hopeless, didn’t you? Yes, so did I. But we must upgrade our files now to read: “Mostly hopeless.”
This was in fact the third time I’d changed a tyre. Other male friends have told me they just phoned the AA, so at least I gave it a bash.
The first time was in pouring rain and darkness on the M8. The car was my first, a Nissan Micra, vehicle of choice for ladies and old or unconfident men.
With the aid of the manual, the operation went like clockwork. Given clear instructions, we can do almost anything. That’s why the Russians or the North Koreans or some such have infiltrated the nation’s manuals: to bring the country to a halt with incomplete or incomprehensible instructions.
Another theory is that, after the Second World War, the Nazis continued their campaign against humanity by writing instruction manuals.
To be fair, the second time I had to fix a flat tyre the instructions were in French, possibly on account of how I was in yonder France.
I’ve told you this story before but, to my mind if not yours, it bears repeating. I never go abroad willingly and, on this occasion, it was for a wedding (which I also never attend willingly; bit of a double-whammy, that occasion).
It was my first (and only) time driving abroad and, predictably, ended in disaster. We hit a bollard or a peasant or something, and got a flat tyre on a busy, narrow road in the middle of the rush-hour.
Reliant as ever on the manual, I sought instructions and was trying to remember my schoolboy French when alas, my partner of the time, an overly pro-active gal, got up and went to the back wheel to have a look.
At this point, a moustachioed French barber came out of his shop and started shouting at me. I’d no idea what he was gibbering about, particularly above the sound of honking horns, so just smiled indulgently.
Later, I learned he’d been castigating me for letting the lady change the tyre while I sat in the front insouciantly reading something. I could say it was the most humiliating moment of my life. But there have been others.
Anyway, I got that tyre changed eventually, and let the lady drive for the rest of the trip.
The third need to change a tyre was discovered at the house where I was recently looking after chickens. Fortunately, it’s very private and there was no-one with a moustache to shout at me.
But, oh, the instructions! Damn you, Volvo: as bad as IKEA. The place where the jack was supposed to go wasn’t there.
The wheel nuts were so tight I’d to jump on the wrench and, when these were finally off, I found the wheel was still attached by a locking nut, which wasn’t even mentioned in the manual.
Luckily, I found the gizmo to get it off, then took some time out to set fire to the manual.
But I got there in the end, and felt a misplaced sense of manly pride in my efforts. As for the writers of Volvo manuals, may they rot in hell.