I’m not a fast learner. It took me ages to memorise the 12 cranial nerves, and I only achieved it thanks to a dirty little mnemonic, much loved by medical students. Maybe that’s why it took me a while to learn these three lessons.
1 Windscreen wipers work fine until it starts raining.
Then you discover that they smear, they’re harbouring mouldy cherry blossom, they’re stuck in one position, or else they fall off without notice. They only pull this last trick when you’re belting along a dual carriageway in torrential rain. At night, when there’s no hope of finding them again.
At least this time the inside of the windscreen was in good shape. In my VW Beetle, the interior misted up all the time. Some advised me to rub the inside of the windscreen with a cut raw potato. Lesson learned long ago: potato stops the glass misting up, but you still can’t see out.
2 If you look hard enough, there’s usually chocolate somewhere in the house.
Are you familiar with chocolate hunger? You’ve consumed a 4000 Calorie meal, but there’s a little recess of your stomach that’s screaming for cocoa-based confectionery, and the noise gets louder until you appease it.
You’re dreaming of Lindt 70% cocoa, or maybe Green & Black’s.
But the shops are shut.
Start searching and you’ll probably unearth some chocolate flakes in the back of the kitchen cupboard, or if you’re really lucky a milk chocolate Hob Nob. What about raiding your child’s lunchbox? You can stop off at the petrol station tomorrow on the way to school and replenish it. Or there might be booty in the depths of the sofa (usually the caramel one from the Cadbury’s Roses that nobody wanted). I once hit the jackpot in a coat pocket: a distressed packet of Maltesers from a visit to the cinema.
This time? Zilch. I’d even checked the car. Nothing but mints and empty wrappers.
Then I remembered. Hadn’t one of my sons left a couple of things behind when he’d moved out?
Yes, the expiry date was decades ago. I said you can usually find chocolate. I didn’t say it would be edible.
3 Quizzes are nothing but ritual humiliation.
I entered the village hall full of optimism. A table of 8 middle-aged people, including one teacher and two doctors? We were bound to scoop the big prize (a motley assortment of goodies including a jar of stuffed olives and a sleeping bag. No, I can’t explain it either). But we failed to identify one of Lady Gaga’s hits, and went downhill as the evening progressed. Dressed in academic gown, the quiz master repeatedly tapped our table with his pointer.
Unfortunately there were no questions on cranial nerves, just posers on chemistry, Nobel prizes, and astronomy. And why does someone always have to shout ‘Uranus’? Especially when it isn’t.
Our score was pitiful. Sir threatened us with an after-school detention.
Old dogs can’t learn new tricks. They have enough trouble remembering the old ones, especially since they sell bottles of wine at quizzes. But I quite fancied a sleeping bag.