In addition to my ‘Victorian widow in mourning’ get-up, I can accessorise any Halloween ‘look’ by carving a pumpkin – I’m violently allergic to that stringy stuff inside the cursed things and emerge after a carving session with weeping, blistered arms which go down a storm at fancy dress parties. Not that I go to any of them. God forbid.
In addition to pumpkin guts, I’m also allergic to cucumbers, lichen, cut grass and people who think it’s endearing to sneeze ridiculously loudly in public as if they expect a round of applause for spraying their germs over an unnecessarily large area (try that kind of ostentatious behaviour when you’re farting, I dare you).
My idea of hell is a round of cucumber sandwiches at a picnic on a log in the middle of a field of cut grass with an idiot whose hayfever offers them the perfect excuse to sneeze like a possessed accordion player auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent. It’s a very specific kind of hell, but it’s feasibly possible, which makes it far more terrifying than the fiery lakes of damnation you read about in the Bible.
My allergies may be strange, but they are nothing compared to my VW Golf’s.
At just over a year old, my silver Golf had developed a white rash in the delicate car door areas of its bodywork, transforming it from a GTi boy racer’s wet dream into the ‘Singing Detective’ of the VW community. Other Golfs started avoiding it in the car park and refusing to go near it unless their washers and windscreen wipers were on full pelt.
Initial suspicions – of foul play, a dodgy batch of paint, demonic possession or drive-by icing sugar dustings – were quickly ruled out, and a paintwork expert was called in to give his diagnosis. ‘I’ve seen about 20 cases of this,” he said, grimly. “It’s children.”
It turned out that the VW Golf was allergic to children who, apparently, cause certain silver VWs to develop irregularities on their paintwork due to ‘substances’ on their fingers. I kid you not: this is the official reason that my car looked like a heap of shit.
“It could be sun tan lotion,” added the expert, “or perhaps Play-dough.” Or pumpkin, cucumber, lichen, grass or attention-seeking, sneeze happy fuckwits, presumably.
The damage from my toxic children could, he explained, be polished off with the kind of effort Hercules would have found impossible to muster, but on no account was it the type of damage which would be covered by any insurance. As you can agree, it sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation. The VW Golf, a vehicle heavily marketed as a family car, cannot be touched by youthful, virginal hands – if you look in the small print I’m sure it’s all there.
Ironically, just two days after the car was sent away to contemplate life with its unsightly rash, it was forced off the road by a van making a last minute decision to turn right, causing it to smash into a traffic light junction box.
In addition to the huge list of repairs the car needed, a respray was ordered. If I didn’t believe in karma before, I certainly believe in car-ma now.
On this note, I’d just like to thank the owner of the house whose wall my allergy-ridden car (slightly) damaged and whose overwhelming concern for my family touched me deeply, a little bit like a liver tumour or being impaled on a fence post.
Following the accident, he came racing out of his property, his face a picture of concerned anguish as he surveyed the scene (two small children, one bruised, both shivering, a shocked driver, a smoking car, a smashed-up van, a police car, a crumpled traffic light junction box). He then started taking photographs of his wall and asking about insurance details: after all, you can always have more children, but a wall is for life.
Thank you, sir, for restoring my lack of faith in human nature. It brought to mind images of strapping gentlemen stumbling along the listing deck of the Titanic using women and children as stepping stones in a bid to get to a lifeboat.
Another job for the Karma police, methinks.