I worry just a little that this blog’s entries are turning into “did some work on the book, did some work on the cantata” and little else, but that is the way that my life is running at the moment. There are still many other things besides, such as listening, playing, walking, exploring, and so on, but the main thrust of my work is following the book/cantata route at the moment.

Still, I impressed myself yesterday by fixing my car’s mirror all on my own. The vicinity of a car is not my natural habitat by any means, and I find myself among that crowd that gets gently chastised by the folks at the local garage when I take my vehicle in to be serviced. I think that they labour under the misapprehension that I view my car as an extension of my ego and self-worth whereas in fact I see it as a means of getting from A to B, a point of view they seem to find baffling.

One of my father’s many unsuccessful businesses was a garage, so something should really have rubbed off on me, but maybe the fact that I spent so much of my childhood in cars in states of disrepair was a more permanent influence – the Mini with the hole in the floor, the Talbot Samba with the engine that had broken free of its mounts, the Toyota Carina whose fifth gear had to be held in by the driver’s knee.

Forget Proust and his madeleines, for me it’s the oily smell of a 412.

There was the occasional bit of exotica as well, such as a Lancia Fulvia in the mid-70s, but mainly the smell of my childhood is of the oily insides of a Moskvich 412, a car renowned for being more likely to injure its driver than a passing member of the public when it collided with a pedestrian. Quite how I survived into middle age after so many hours of being run around in one of these antediluvian machines is a mystery, although its suitability to Russian climes meant that it was ever toasty in winter.

My father’s final car, which my brother and I gave away to one of his friends who was so kind to him in his final months, turned out to have a mouse living in it, although we never quite worked out where, so he clearly kept that strange relationship with his machines going right to the end. At least where music is concerned I know that my tinkering is reasonably well-informed and unlikely to leave me stranded by the roadside, and, upon reflection, I think that I can live with that decision.