Monday, January 04, 2010


It was minus four degrees C as we emerged at 8.30 a.m. this morning to scrape the ice off our two cars. Alex should have left for work an hour before but we were bound for Halfords to buy some jump leads.

We discovered last night that his car wouldn’t start, the battery being completely dead. Much discussion then followed as to the likely cause of this calamity (a battery problem? But it was relatively new. A short-circuit somewhere? But the car was only recently serviced. Aha, maybe that was the problem!). Then we moved to possible ameliorations (join the AA and get a man round? Buy a portable battery charger? See if the local garage would fix it?). In the end we decided on jump leads.

On our return we pushed Alex’s car out of its bay and onto the road adjacent to mine. The frost-covered car body was so cold it could strip your skin off. Both bonnets (hoods for our US readers) were raised and I set about looking for the battery in my Toyota Auris. In most cars this is pretty obvious but after spending ten minutes leveraging the cover off my first candidate I discovered that I had actually exposed the fuse system. OK, so where is the battery then? I found it under a plastic protector nestling against the front grill. Did I mention I have no mechanical aptitude?

There is a protocol to the order in which the clips need to be attached for jump-starting which we followed with pedantic rigidity. I then ran my car for four or five minutes to get some juice into Alex’s dead battery. At 10 a.m. I gave him the thumbs up and he turned the key. The starter motor fired and his engine started. As it did so the red jump cable leapt off his positive terminal and fell onto the road. How we failed to ignite a flaming arc of plasma will always elude me, the cable could have been carrying hundreds of amps.

Unblown-up, Alex departed for work a few minutes later.