Professor Wellingtonís Transport Policy
by, 27-03-11 at 11:04 (813 Views)
nearly final edit: spot the strap lines!
Greetings to all fine hounds, coming to you this time from their living room. It appears that Rank hath Itís Privilege & I have been promoted from the kitchen. I get to go & annoy Rals & Duggie & teach the yoof how to deport properly, & when I consider my work done I get to have a sustaining snooze on their sofa. All I need now is another roast beef dinner (there is no substitute) & Iíll have the lot of them fully under my control. Since Iím talking of comfort for desirable creatures, Iíd like to give some considerations about what they call, Ďthe car.í If youíre Rals we know it better as the chunder wagon, & if it is Panda, itís unmentionably messy. As for puppies, words fail me.
I think the approach here is to get your human to consider the matter from YOUR point of view, which is about a foot off the ground, & the ground is something that should be stable. Your Dad, being male, is bombarded with subliminal (& according to your Mum, frequently blatant) media messages that inform him that such & such a motor will put va va voom back into his life. His life is incomplete without racing seats, inadequate without a big engine & failure without a turbo. The power of dreams etc. Give him a Smart Car & he turns into a hairdresser with a low serotonin level, or so he is led to believe by the authority of the likes of Jeremy Clarkson & his hamster. Iíll give James May the benefit of my doubt. At least he knows his wines. Iíll tell you something though-none of that lot buys their own fuel. Going down the performance route leads to discomfort, liquid mess & a distinct & voluble reluctance to be put in it. Think of each outing as the equiv of not so much the big dipper at Southend, but some godawful American thing that drives compression marks & nightmares into small children. So the ScoobEvoIntegrale V24 144 valve superultradodecaturbo is out & so is anything with Ďsports suspension.í Clue-if thereís a girlie dressed in her summer nothingness in the advert & the vehicle is red or black, itís a non starter. Beauty is not enough.
So thatís what we donít want. What do we need then? The drive of your wife, thatís what. Iím pretty much sure I woof for us all when I say that our own little space is what we want & I donít mean the passenger footwell. Thatís for poodles & the glove box is for toys. I like my own place with lots of bodyroom, so may I commend you to the estates? Besides, anyone who has ever had one always says they never knew just how they managed before. It also removes the distractions afforded by the whicker pic-i-nic basket, with itís tasty morsels & easy to crunch through sides. Like a wrapped prezzy is how I think of those. You might think you can do all this with the rear seats folded flat like those clever Hondas do, but where are you going to put the nosh? In the front you reckon-so thatís why I poke my nose between the seats for the whole journey. And dere hearts, Iím afraid even the best of us can have an accident on a journey, which is why you really, really need a removable & washable boot liner. Also, pay great attention to whatís left sticking out when those seats go down. A few years ago they were looking at a Mondeo, but put the seats down in that & there was this nasty sticky out thing where the seats located, just at my eye level. I believe this defect has been rectified on the later models, but for my sake, check that one out on whatever you choose. And if you dare leave me in your hatchback & pop out for a drinkie & fish & chips, well, Iíll feel so left out that I might just make a light lunch of your headrests, chew your steering wheel & rip the stuffing out of those leather chairs. If I can get at the satnav & iPod Iíll have them too. You have been warned. The dog in front is a Wellington.
Thereís also the matter of getting me in & out. Do I look like a beagle? In my case, most emphatically not, so donít expect me to be jumping in & out at my age, so easy does it. Perhaps if youíd taught me to use a ramp as a nipper that would have helped, but no you didnít think of that. Poor planning I must say. Caveat here-make sure your ramp canít slip off. My Dad picked up a motorbike with his van & used the proper thing. Unfortunately he didnít fix the ramp to the van, & on top of that he started the bally thing & powered it in. Of course when the rear wheel got to the top of the ramp, it gripped it & spat it onto the ground (think of my own excited 4 legged drive here). How I laughed at him holding it by the rear wheel & screaming for help. If only everything in life was as reliable eh? The point of this is if either me or the bike fell off neither of us will be getting up in quite the same condition as we went down. And your Chelsea tractor (aka the 4x4) is even higher up.
Now when you let me out itís walkies time, so of course Iím a bit excited. It would help matters a lot if you have a cage in the back so I canít slip out as you open the tailgate. If you look at the show lot they almost all have a custom rear gate with a door in it. These are excellent & you can buy them 2nd hand as well. It should go without saying that you should have a front one-think of that pic-er-nicked basket & all thatís holding me back are your stuffed headrests.
Environmental concerns. No I donít mean the catalytic converter & wotnots. There was a smattering of snow at the start of the year that caught most of you out. Hereís what to do. Get some cheap nasty steel wheels for your car. Get a trolley jack & a decent wheel brace for the wheel nuts. Put some very good winter tyres onto these rims & stuff it all into the back of the garage. When the next ice age comes, simply slip trolley jack under the car & replace the wheels with your snow ones. Job jobbed, unless you have been silly enough to believe Top Gear & have a rear wheel drive BMW etc. The ultimate driving experience only if you like spinning off into the road furniture. Personally I think thatís overrated. Incidentally your big 4x4 isnít much cop when it gets to deep snow. Those fat tyres & all that weight compresses the snow into ice & simply spin no matter what lockable diffs & electrickery you have. What you want are narrow tyres that kind of cut & slice through. Our Micra was the only vehicle that could even get off the drive way & did us all proud. And thatís with standard tyres. See, you can with a Nissan.
Creature Comforts. So you have aircon. Warms you up, keeps you cool. What about me then? Or your rear passengers? Best check where it all goes. And if youíre old skool & reckon to open the rear windows a bit, let me tell you that the Peugeot 406 makes some kind of dervish drumming noise which winds the heck out of me & them. So Iíd check that as well. You can get clever little fans that you hang on the front dog guard & they power off the cig lighter. They have inserts you stick in the freezer too. Also, much like you like a coffee or a gin if you stop, Iíd like a drink too. So pack some water AND my bowl please. Hereís an idea. Put my full waterbowl on your lap. Now drive without spilling it. Thatís how I like to be chauffeured about & I promise you your fuel economy will rocket too.
A couple of things those nice salespeople wonít tell you. One-how much it costs to replace the clutch. Old skool motors it was pretty easy. However, Vauxhall Vectras, Rovers etc of a certain vintage need to be almost taken apart to do it. You can buy me a lot of roast beef with £400. Also, due to European Emissions regs, rather a lot of diesel engines after 2001 have a FAP system in the exhaust. This filters out the soot, & when the filter get a bit blocked, injects some magic cleaning fluid into the fuel, sparks up an element like an old electric fire & burns it off. Very environmentally sound eh? But wait. Somewhere underneath is a small tank of this magical liquid. If you run out (about every 30k miles) it wonít work. (wee light on the dashboard-the kind of thing you mean to look up in the ownerís manual but forget). Then the filter clogs. Replaced at the same cost as my roast beef extravaganza. And that fluid must be the most expensive liquid on earth, after printer ink. If you look at the top of the service desk in VAG garages youíll see notices all about this. Vorsprung durch technik, my sainted whiskers.
Finally, if you take one thing from any of this-do not leave me in a car when itís sunny or even overcast. I donít care if you have the windows down & water in. Thereís one heck of a lot of glass in the back & my personal veterinary physician tells me that Iíd have under 10 minutes before everything gets very final indeed. You wouldnít leave an infant or the frozen shopping in such a situation, so do not do it to me. Thank you for listening. Bassets. For life. Bash on the Bonios!
Edit: basking in my glory at beating my nemesis (Rals), in a class of our own, to take Best Veteran in Show at the Basset Hound Club Open Show at Stafford yesterday, under Judith Murray aka TTN, I am now waiting on my stretch limo so I can ride in the back-my very own portable sofa. Born to Perform-thatís me. Unlike any other!