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September 2008 - Wriggled and Jiggled

It appears that I've mentioned the washing of cars once before in Nick Harvey's Comment.  Indeed, even though it was over three-and-a-half years ago, it's still one of those amazing editions which people have to stop me in the street to ask about.

Oh, okay, so it was one guy who once asked me about it in the street, while we were stopped in any case, talking about something different.  "Aren't you that bloke who got stuck in the car wash with his dog?" he asked.  "The second word is 'off'!" was my retort, deftly side-stepping his split infinitive.

I got to thinking about the February 2005 edition of Comment (not now, madam, read it afterwards, concentrate on one thing at a time or you'll spill your ice cream down your cardigan again) whilst I was engaging in the in-depth research for this month's epic edition, you see.

If the edition of Comment published in February of 2005 was the one to mention the car wash, then it must have been in January of that year that the rapid racer went through that terrible ordeal.  I must say it doesn't really look that dirty when I look out of my window as I write.

Although, it has to be said, the in-depth research happens to prove that the level of cleanliness of the vehicle has absolutely nothing to do with the phenomenon which I'm about to explain to all you good viewers out there.

However, before I do, I'm forgetting my manners again, am I not?  Welcome along, dear ladies and gentlemen, to the very last edition of Nick Harvey's Comment for the third quarter of 2008.  I do, most sincerely folks, hope you enjoy it.

You know, I'm not so sure about all this politeness lark.  I think I preferred it when I was just my ignorant self, without all this welcoming and sincerely hoping business.  I'm also pretty certain that most of you faithful (nee regular) devotees (see February 2008 for details, but not till later) also preferred me grumpy and objectionable, didn't you?

I think I might give up on all the polite welcomes again, as from the first edition for the final quarter of 2008; so be warned, folks, and make the most of it all this month.

So where was I?  Oh yes, I was driving around the town doing detailed research into this month's exciting topic to be put under Nick Harvey's Acme microscope, wasn't I?

Actually, that reminds me of something else I wanted to mention to you while I'm here.  You don't mind if I stroll off in the general direction of a minor digression for a few moments, do you, madam?

Those of you who are the proud possessors of accounts allowing you to surf the home of the world wide spider, and I guess that'll be the majority of you viewing this at the moment, will probably also have accounts for this electronic mail system they've introduced.

It appears though, that in order to use this electronic mail, you have to be "at" somewhere to do it.  Except that the convention appears to be that you're not actually "at" anywhere, you have to be "@" somewhere instead.

Now, in my youth, all those eons ago, I was always taught that "@" meant "at the rate of", as in the pricing of groceries and the like.  You know, fifteen ounces of cheese @ two bob an ounce will cost you one pound ten (that's shillings, not pence, for the youngsters shouting at the screen that the mathematics look wrong).

Imagine my ultimate shock to find another of our good British symbols being incorrectly used out there in the world.  The only bit which failed to surprise me to any great extent was the fact that, apparently, all this electronic mail business is yet another American invention.  Perhaps best not to mention Eye Rack at this point, then!

Anyway, I appear to have gone off on another of my famous digressions within a digression there, haven't I?  I was driving round the town, doing research on the main topic, wasn't I?

Well, it was while I was driving around the town that I came upon one of these signs that they put up on lamp posts (see April 2008, but not now, after you've finished this one and then the Februarys for 2005 and 2008) to direct builders and, presumably, prospective buyers, to new housing estates.

The disease of the "@" sign appears to have suddenly spread further.  Why am I suddenly being directed to "CrestNicholson@Devizes" I want to know?  Has the whole world now become too darned lazy to type two characters instead of one?

Surely it ought to be "Crest Nicholson at Devizes", with a proper "a", a proper "t" and three proper spaces for good measure?  If these Crest Nicholson blighters are so bloomin' lazy that their signs are in this type of corrupted abbreviation, then, for goodness sake don't ever consider buying one of their houses, the stairs probably only go half way up and then suddenly stop.

The confusion gets even worse, in any case.  Up above there, I just typed "CrestNicholson@Devizes" and the text suddenly turned to white and got underlined, without me touching a single keyboard key.

It appears that whenever you type anything with an "@" in the middle, your computer suddenly goes into "I'm a paperclip and I think you're trying to send an e-mail; would you like me to help you make a complete mess of it?" mode.  You then have to fiddle about in all those complicated menus, right up at the top of the page, and eventually select "Undo Hyperlink", whatever that might be.

Anyway, enough of all these bijou digressions, I didn't really come here to go on at length about "@" signs, I came to talk about something completely different.  And in a minute or two, I might remember what on earth it was to be.

Oh, yes, it was that phenomenon which cares little about whether your rapid racer is clean or dirty, wasn't it?  What I need to know, you see, is what particular ingenious ingredient it is that car manufacturers add to the insides of door mirrors?

My investigations, thus far, have managed to identify three different options for car door mirrors.

The first option, definitely in the minority, are those with little or no chance of adjustment from inside the car.  If you're sat in the driver's seat and all you can see in the mirror is either the white line or the sky, then you probably have to get out, move the thing up or down a bit, then get back in and have another look.

There's a slim chance, if it's the driver's side mirror, that you might be able to open the window wide and waggle the thing about from inside the car, but if it's the passenger's side one, then give up on that idea!

The second option, is very slightly better, with little levers poking into the car from the back of each mirror.  Absolutely wonderful on the driver's side, as you can wiggle it about to your heart's content, till the view is perfect.

Not so good, however, on the passenger's side.  Viewers of Sunday tea-time television from many years ago will understand exactly why this option of mirror has become known as "The Golden Shot" model.

The driver sits in the driver's seat.  A passenger is required to sit in the passenger seat.  The driver looks in the mirror and the passenger operates the little lever for him.  The driver shouts "Up a lot", "Left a bit", Right a bit" "Down a bit", "No, back up a bit" and so on, and so on, till the mirror is eventually correctly positioned.

The third option is almost perfection.  Both mirror positions are electrically controlled from a remote control knob, well within the reach of the driver, in his normal sitting position.  He can adjust both mirrors to perfection from the comfort of his seat.

Please note, by the way, the use of the words "his" and "He" in that previous paragraph.  Yes, it was deliberate.  Well, you've never seen a woman driver using the mirrors for anything other than refreshing the lipstick, have you?

Right, so we've now discussed, at some length, the three options for door mirrors, haven't we?  So now we must move on the the one thing, okay, other than a piece of reflective glass, which they all have in common.

The intellectuals amongst you might have gleaned just a tiny hint of the item in common, from the title of this month's epic.  Yes, the common factor to every door mirror in creation is the family of spiders who live inside.

As mentioned above, it matters not whether you thoroughly wash your car twice a week or less thoroughly do so twice a decade, like me.  Every morning you go out and there's a new web been built between the door mirror and the door handle.

I think they only use the handle for the other end of the web to make sure you realise that they're still in residence.  It doesn't matter how efficiently you get rid of all the web evidence before you drive away, they'll still be another one there tomorrow morning, or even this afternoon if you leave the car unattended for more than about ten minutes at a time.

So what is this secret ingredient, hidden away in door mirrors by the manufacturers, to attract every spider in wide world, and make him bring all his family along to live with him?  I'm totally baffled by this one, I'm afraid.

If anybody out there has any ideas about this, answers, as usual, on the back of a ten pound note to the usual address, preferably the one without one of those "@" things in the middle of it!

Right, having warned you that I'm unlikely to continue this politeness lark into next month's edition, I suppose I'd better warm you up gently for what it's going to be like from here on in.

Push off then, I've finished!  You can go and read all the background information now.  February 2005, February 2008 and April 2008 are all available from the Comment Archive, which, in turn, is available from the main Comment Index, which you'll see a little bit below, in the Carbuncle Collection box.  Hey, that's probably just quadrupled my viewing figures for this month at a stroke; four pages read for the price of one!

I shall be pleased to see those of you who love to be abused, back here promptly on the first of October, for the next load of this old cobblers.  Until then, dear viewers, I shall be gone from this place.  Right, I'm off, where's me hyperlink?

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