Wednesday, 26 March 2008

We're all car mechanics now thanks to the interweb

My VW Golf has started making an alarming clunking sound - coming from the front wheels. I'm no mechanic, handy yes, but I leave the car to the garage. In the old days you'd turn it in to the service department and try and describe the fault without sounding too stupid. You'd accept their diagnosis and stump up for the repair.

When the sounds of Armageddon emanated from my usually reliable VW my first stop wasn't
the garage, but it did begin with a 'g'. Googling 'clunking sound VW steering' produced plenty of helpful trouble-shooting. It sounds like my front bushes have worn out, a common fault on the Golf mark IV.

Next I call the garage and report that it sounds like the front bushes need to be replaced on my Golf. 'Ah-huh' answers the teenage girl on service reception, I can almost see her eyebrows raise. I smile 'yes we're all car mechanics now - thanks to the interweb'. 'Yeesss' she says. 'The earliest we can book it in is next week'. Some things don't change. We're all smarter but just as helpless.


Once Petrol prices finally crept through the psychological £1 a litre mark, I predicted they would quickly race up to 110p a litre. Walking (yes, walking) past the garage yesterday I saw my local was almost there. The £5 gallon is nearly upon us (4.5 litres to a gallon - but I had to check). Funny because after Christmas the sign board at most Shell garages wouldn't accommodate 4 digits (just 3, 98.9 say). For the first time they were having to display whole pence per litre (105 say). Now they have the new display it also appears to be motorised and nudging upwards daily. Incidentally why does the govt (and therefore car manufacturers) measure fuel consumption in miles per gallon when fuel is sold in litres? If the on board computer told us how pitifully few miles we drove on a litre of the precious stuff we might leave our cars at home more often (as I have done).


I flew back from Glasgow with BMI yesterday afternoon. BA has become hopelessly unreliable on the route into Heathrow but yesterday BMI had a bad day. My partner's early flight went 'technical' and was cancelled. She ended up at Gatwick. My flight was about to depart on time when the Captain made an unexpected announcement. They had a spare bag loaded, which they needed to remove and this was taking longer than he had hoped. Then 20 minutes later an announcement I believe he was making for the first time in his flying career. Apparently the company BMI employ to load the bags (Aviance) weren't sure they had loaded the right bags. Any passengers with hold baggage would have to disembark and identify their baggage which had been lined up on the tarmac. The delay cost us an hour and deep embarrassment for the Captain. But was there any gesture to the passengers... (a free cup of tea or bottle of water?) no, nothing (good luck with your connecting flights). Just try turning up for your flight an hour after departure and see if they let you board another one for free...

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