One time in Australia I was drinking with a fella and we were talking about cars, and lightning storms, and floods in the Northern Territory. We were in Broome, or Katherine, or Hall’s Creek, one of them. The air was soft and warm and the Jim Beam&Coke was going down well on his porch. And there was more porches, and people drinking, and everyone worked in the mines. He was saying to keep an eye on the temperature and if it goes up, no matter how much, even a bit, then get it checked and it’ll save the car in the long run. Now I’m down by the Shannon Weir in Athlone and the temperature is gone up to the last. There was nowhere else for it to go. It was like it was trying to escape, breakthrough the dashboard and into engine. If it was a game of Snake or Pacman it would go through the wall on the right and come in through the wall on the left again. I was waiting for the bang, the smoke, the plume of mechanical and financial disaster that usually followed. Same as the Insignia in Edenderry and the Qashqai in Claremorris and the Astra in Galway that time. And let’s not mention that fuckin Peugeot. My immediate plan was to park somewhere handy for a truck to tow it away. This was important. It was only seconds before all the lights came on and the engine would blow, and the power steering would die and then there’d be no hope of getting it anywhere.
But this time nothing happened. The gauge stayed high, but the car continued to drive. Up by St. Peter’s Port and onto Connaught Street. The sun smiled on and people wandered by like nothing was the matter. Usually by now there’s a crowd gathered, and extras giving unwanted advice, and a smell like burning tyres and mechanical piss. Yet, the Focus glided through the panic like there was nothing wrong at all. No warnings, no stutter. I pulled in. Surprised and optimistic. Time to look at the engine like I knew something about them. The bonnet can only be opened with a key. One of them fancy ideas that never took off. Either way, I fucked it up about three months ago and now there’s a steel stick that does the job. You have to angle it through the front grille like you’re doing a blind endoscopy and then it clicks and slicks and you’re in. The engine was a bit hot but nothing solar. Plenty of water and coolant, no lack of oil. Time for Youtube. There was lads talking about sensors, and waterpumps, and putting eggs in the radiator. And click here, and like this, subscribe and follow, but there was no need, sure cos the needle was gone down by now and the car was grand. Sure they’re all mad in Australia anyway, and on Youtube, time to drive on, keep goin til ya hear the bang, and there was no bang yet. Might buy six eggs just in case but that’ll do.