Due to it being what is known as a “slow news day”, my smoko break was reduced to checking out the horoscope section of a local newspaper, which declared that as a Scorpio, I must get out of the office in order to save my sanity. Like all right thinking individuals, I am aware that divining your future from the stars is an activity best reserved for individuals who have a vacuum where their brains would normally be, but as the sun was shining it was all the prodding I needed to take a jaunt to the big, yellow food emporium to get some shopping done.
Unlike cooking and DIY, shopping is an activity that is fairly equitably shared in our household and thanks to the fanatical devotion to list creation that the current Mrs Grimley has, the outcome is pretty similar no matter who is responsible for our weekly scavenges. I may occasionally become enticed by some canned exotica which will later become an integral part of one of my more imaginative culinary creations, but by and large we can both be relied on to return home with identically filled bags.
The only exception to this rule occurs in the weeks we need to replenish our supplies of toilet paper. Without wanting to get too far into the graphic details, I see no reason to splash excessive sums of money on a commodity which has the sole purpose of being briefly involved in the bottom-wiping process, before being dispatched on a one-way ticket down the grumper. The missus on the other hand, values the qualities of a more luxuriant bog roll and will therefore happily justify the expenditure on a product so thick that it borders on being a mattress.
Each option has its advantages – when I buy it we have a bit more money and on the weeks she does we don’t walk like victims of belt sander rape.
This viewpoint extends to cars too, with her ladyship enjoying vehicles that give her a bit more pampering and performance, whilst I extract my joy from motors a little closer to the end of their useful lives. Her last car prior to leaving the UK was a Mazda RX-8, which cost the equivalent of $20,000 and was utterly wonderful. It was pacey, beautifully tight to drive and had the added bonus of the interestingly-engineered Wankel unit providing the motive power. In the same time frame I contented myself with a Volvo V70, a Vauxhall Omega (the UK Commodore) and a Mercedes E320 which set me back a combined total of $3500. All were absolute tanks and felt decidedly used when compared to the lithe Mazda, but they were fun in their own particular ways and I even managed to sell one at a profit.
And if anything, my love for these automotive dungers is growing by the day. There is no doubting that as I am now comfortably into my fourth decade on the planet, I should probably be contemplating joining the ranks of the aspirational and making my car purchases from men with suits and too much hair gel who live in showrooms made of glass and brand names. But much as I try, there is seemingly no way to stave off the almost narcotic addiction I have to motoring detritus. I seem to garner a perverse pleasure from the challenge of eeking a few more unlikely miles from a shed that should really have had its chips sometime around the turn of the century. Even if the said shed then repays the commitment – as my current terrible Mercedes 190E did last Sunday – by attempting to set fire to your trousers on State Highway 1 via a sudden shorting of the brake switch.
Yet even this is proving to be mildly unsatisfying and so, inspired by my previous attempts at one of the many Banger Rallies that criss-cross the mountains of Europe each summer, I’ve mooted the idea of taking a dunger touring holiday to Fjordland over the Christmas holidays.
The concept is a great one – simply pile everything you need (mainly tools, underpants and replacement coolant) into a suitably horrendous car and point it at the most tortuous mountain passes you can find. In a single holiday you get to experience not only the majestic scenery of the South, but also some truly epic driving and the joy of knowing that you’ve gained humungous man points from nursing and bodging an absolute rotter of a car through a full on road trip.
However, in reality I’m worried that getting the concept off the drawing board may prove to be a little more difficult. The current Mrs Grimley is not quite such as visionary as myself when it comes to matters of the dunger and if I trade her planned week in Aussie for five days of motion sickness in a lightly smouldering Mercedes then no matter what my horoscope says, the stars I’ll end up seeing will probably be brought on by a sudden impact of frying pan.