Darling Fifi, cute as a button baby-blue Fifi. Mmmm. Fifi!
Two weeks ago it rained cats and dogs, not literally, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had. There was a lot of water, and, well, Fifi has a habit of wetting herself and forming a puddle under the driver’s feet when it rains. This she did. It rained for three days, which filled my tanks, which now fill, empty and refill with rain water as tanks are designed to do, so that’s a blessing. Rain also makes my driveway much safer to drive on. It gets dusty when it is dry and the car doesn’t grip it so well, but when it is wet, it is sweet. I thought, you know what? I’m going to drive Fifi to the top landing where cars are meant to park – four-wheel drives that is. Up she went like a little beauty. Good. I couldn’t get her right up, though, as the two figs trees I brought over from Auckland are resting there waiting for holes to be dug for them. That’s something I think about daily, mainly because I see them every day. I’ve got some punga trees growing in the garden and I’ve offered them to friends knowing that if they want them, they’ll dig them out, and then Ye-ha I’d get ready-dug holes for my fig trees. So far, no takers. I’ll have to sweeten the offer as these fig trees deserve a home. They’ve yielded a dozen beautiful figs though, which is considerable cooped up as they are in black polythene.
Anyway, Fifi was parked at the top, sort of, and that seemed like a good thing, but when I got stuff out of the boot I felt really spooked because the car wasn’t quite on the flat, and I thought, if it started slipping, I’d be flattened, like, literally, flat. My gut told me this was not good. There is a risk. I stepped to the side of the car and stretched over to get the shopping, but that voice in my ear had me on red alert. The next day I had a better idea. I thought I’d drive to where I normally do and reverse up the hump, to the landing. I started well, overcompensating perhaps to miss the rocks on my left, then the tyres started slipping, then my feet slipped (I’d mopped up Fifi’s floor puddle but it was still a bit wet), and next thing I went too close to the fence and it sheared off the door handle. Just like that, Fifi had no door handle on the driver’s side. Well there was only one word to say, so I said it, numerous times, and drove back down to the flat. I could get out, but I could never enter Fifi through the driver’s door again. Oops. HaHa. Mmmm. Bugger. Bum. Or something like that.
I’d been aware for some time, as I’m sure everyone who had entered Fifi from the passenger’s door duly noted, that one day the handle to that door was likely to disintegrate. Brittle. Buggered. It had had enough of endless summers and cold snaps. Like everything that ages, there comes a time … But Fifi has driven past the monthly demolition derby down the bottom of the street with her shiny little nose in the air implying she is better than that, and she seemed to be coping to her new life on the island with its rough and ready roads, hidden ditches and blankets of dust, until she sprung a leak and needed two new door handles.
While the handles were being sourced – no easy task for an older Fiat – I still had to drive Fifi around as she is my island car. That has meant crawling in from the passenger’s side. That’s fine in my own driveway, but out in public, bottoms up, not such a great look. I developed a technique. As I hopped out I would sort of close the door, sort of but not quite, so at a glance it would look closed, but then I would be able to open it and get in normally. All well and good, except in the rain when the seat got wet, or the times I forget and slammed the door shut by mistake as I got out, or when I was fumbling with groceries, nearly had the door open, to have it slip through my fingers and semi-shut, just enough for me not to be able to open it.
Luckily, door handles were found and Fifi travelled over to Auckland and had them fitted. Of course, the keys don’t do what they used to do and I have to lock the door by inserting the key in the lock. But that’s a small inconvenience, and trivial compared to all the other palaver. The sunroof was also sealed. This may be the end of her wetting herself but sadly it does mean I’ll never be able to ride Fifi through Waiheke with the warm wind in my hair. But I’ll just let the phone keep on ringing and sit there softly singing …
Fifi was bound to show her age sometime I guess, and it was hoped that she would do so gracefully. I think she might have pulled it off this time. Just.