Thank you, all you wacky people, for your interesting suggestions for new car names. After lengthy deliberation, we have christened our little red beast.
THE WINNER: Manuel (suggested by Simon)
RUNNER UP: Florence (suggested by JD)
HONORABLE MENTION FOR MOST VIGOROUS CAMPAIGNING: Screaming Silence of Your Impending Doom (repeatedly suggested by Mattay)
The winning name just clicked right away. We initally thought that the car was female, but now it's just going to be a girly kind of boy. We also like the Fawlty Towers reference, it recalls that lovely image of Basil Fawlty thrashing his broken-down Mini with a tree branch.
I've felt like taking a branch to the car myself lately, with my frustration at learning how to drive the bloody thing. But it's not the cars fault I am lousy with a manual.
My experience with the stick is pretty pathetic. I got my learner's permit the day I turned 16 way back in 1993, but nobody bothered teaching me to drive. I had one disasterous lesson with the Mothership on our farm. She kept pressing her foot down on the Phantom Brake in the passenger seat, nagging and snapping, You're in the wrong gear, you're going too fast, you're going to hit that sheep, etc. I didn't come anywhere near the bloody sheep, though the fence was rather close.
Next thing it was February 1996 and I was off to uni and needing a car to get around. But I had not had one single driving lesson since the sheep incident. So the Mothership finally conceded that it was time for me to learn. I'd been on my Learners for over two years, and now I had to learn to drive in two weeks.
The man assigned to the task was Bob from the Totally R.A.D. Driving School. It was like, totally rad! I totally forget what the R.A.D. stood for, but Bob was a rad guy. He had made a little Lego model of a clutch, which he liked to whip out every time you stalled, which in my case was quite often.
"Now this is the clutch, Shauna," he say in the hushed, awed tones that one usually reserves for some magical mystical occurence. "Now this is a bazillion-carat diamond that I dug out of my backyard with a teaspoon, Shauna." He would turn the little Lego crank and the little Lego gears would spin and he'd explained how it worked, and how my mission was to get to know the clutch. I would nod blankly and smile.
Over the next ten days he'd show me that Lego clutch a further fifty times, plus show me the wonders of reverse parallel parking, clutch control and using your mirrors. I stalled and swore, went too fast or too slow, but he was patient and spoke to me in soothing tones. "Now, go back a gear, easyyyy, easy now! Turn the corner, Shauna. Turn the corner, Shauna. Hey that rhymes! Hehehe."
The big day of the test rolled up and of course my chronic nervousness kicked in. I had thrown up my breakfast and all the mantras Bob had taught me seem to have been purged too.
I sat in Bob's Totally RAD Festiva as the RTA dude drummed his fingers on his clipboard, waiting for me to start. But my mind had gone completely blank. When you know how to drive, starting a car is something you do without thinking. But for me, with about 5 hours of driving experience and being generally loopy and uncoordinated by nature, it was hopeless.
I turned the ignition on, got into reverse, and tried to take off. No dice. I did this three times and was about to burst into tears when the guy coughed politely and said, "Have a think about what you haven't done yet."
I looked around for a good minute or two before finally realising the fucking handbrake was still on. "Ha! Haaaaa hahaaa," I whimpered as I took off the handbrake and proceeded to stall twice more. I had failed the test utterly and miserably before I'd even left the freaking RTA car park, but the bastard still made me do the rest of it. I went over the speed limit twice, I stalled again and my reverse parallel park was a dog's breakfast. I waited til I'd given Bob his Totally RAD car keys back before running into the loos and sobbing. Hehe.
I ended up going for my licence again the day before I left for uni. In that time I'd accquired The Bird, who was an automatic. I passed just fine, despite turning up the wrong street since I'd been to busy being nervous to listen to instructions properly
About two months later when my sister turned 16, Mum started teaching her to drive right away. Grrr. She says not teaching me to drive is a sad chapter in her mothering history, but at least she'd learned from her mistakes and now knew how to get things right when Rhi got her licence. What am I, the experiment child?