Denis Lehane: Flight of fancy in cloud cuckoo land

For the past two years, one of the back tyres of my tractor has been suffering from a slow puncture.

Having grown rather tired of borrowing the brother-in-law’s pump to top up the tyre, I decided to splurge in the January sales by investing in a new pump.

In the past, such an investment would have meant digging deep, but in these days of Lidl and Aldi, a pump can be purchased without too much pain and suffering.

I picked one up for about the price of 20 cigarettes.

Ironically enough, it works off the cigarette lighter of a vehicle.

It was claimed in the packaging that the thing could pump a balloon in no time at all, and would pump a car tyre too, if you had more patience. So I figured, being a man with the patience of Job, that it would pump my old tractor tyre, if I gave it the opportunity.

The next day, with time to kill, I parked my tractor with the deflated tyre outside the house.

And plugging the pump into the fag lighter, off the yoke started like the hammers of hell, pumping like blazes.

One hour later, it was still going strong, determined as ever to inflate the world-weary tyre.

With a nice old rattling rhythm from the pump, and me nicely perched in the tractor cab, I did what any man would do.

I drifted off to sleep.

Soon I was in cloud cuckoo land, with my mind far from the job in hand.

How long I stayed asleep would be hard to quantify, all I know is that when I next awoke, it was to the screams of my missus, with some terrible calamity having taken place.

“Wake up!” she cried, “don’t you take the whole place with you!”

And when I eventually came around, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hadn’t my devil of a pump done it’s work so well that the overinflated tyre, with the tractor and me on it, had become airborne. I was floating about ten feet off the ground, anchored there only because the clothes line had got tangled with the tractor.

“Oh, for God’s sake!” my missus screamed, “would you ever cut off the clothes line, you’ll have every garment ruined.”

“Cut the line!” I roared back with rage. “Are you mad entirely woman?” I yelled.

“If I cut that, sure I’ll drift off to God knows where. The clothes line is the only thing keeping me stationed above your head.”

“No,” says I with great calmness, “switch off the little pumpeen down there by your feet, and at least the pressure can be relieved to some degree.”

And with that, she turned it offand real danger was averted.

“How long will you be up there?” she then asked, finally getting a grasp of the situation.

“Well,” says I, “at least another few hours.”

“Ok,” says she, “I suppose I’ll let you at it so.”

“Do, woman,” says I, “Go back to the kitchen.”

And I folded my arms and drifted back to sleep once again, eventually waking just as the tractor had touched down.

Climbing off my tractor like Armstrong stepping off the Eagle lunar module in 1969, I had to admit, that bargain pump would not only pump every tyre on the land, but it would give yourself a lift too, if you gave it half the chance.


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