Denis Lehane: Valentine repair for love of my life

It isn’t often that I mention her here on this page. But this being Valentine’s week, I feel it’s high time she got the special treatment.

The breakdown of a loving relationship: but if it's only your car, it's easier to get it back on the road.

I love her you see, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. She makes my life complete.

I remember the first time I clapped eyes on her, my God, but she was beautiful.

It was a day I will never forget. She looked stunning in blue. “What’s her name?” I asked the man standing beside me.

“Her name is Hilux,” he said, “and you’d be a right fool to let her go now. Go on, take her home.”

And I remember getting behind the wheel for the first time.

I haven’t looked back since.

We were made for each other. The farmer and his four wheel drive pickup.

It’s over a decade now since we first met.

And through good and bad, she has stood by me.

Never failing, never complaining, always willing to go that extra mile.

And of course the road hasn’t always been straightforward either, we’ve had our twists and turns, our bumpy patches along the way, but I’m proud to say we have come through it all.

She may have a few miles on the clock, but they are all miles travelled with me.

And how could you not love a machine that will carry a handy calf one minute and a round bale of straw the next? There is no job too outrageous for the Hilux.

In her twilight years, I’m proud to say the wheels keep on turning.

But alas and alack, the starter doesn’t always keep on starting.

A few months back, I made the heart-breaking discovery that all was not well under the bonnet.

Her starter simply wasn’t singing as sweetly as it used to.

I said nothing at the time, of course, because I didn’t want to cause upset.

I carried on as before, turning the key and ignoring the weakened sound coming from under the hood.

But then, at the turn of the New Year, on a January morning, her starter failed entirely.

Not a squeak did she make.

“Don’t worry pet,” I said, gently stepping out of the jeep, before coaxing her down the lane by way of a sturdy push.

She started without too much effort.

And having the good fortune to be living in the wilds of west Cork where a steep incline is never too far away, I had been able to keep the show on the road by putting my shoulder to the wheel.

Even on flat round, a smart belt of a hammer on the starter at just the right time never failed in bring her to life. 

Mind you, that of course is a two-man operation, and I found on many occasions out here in the wilderness, that the man was harder to find than the incline for a push.

Earlier in the week, having had my fill of shoulders to the wheel, and hammers to the starter, I decided it was time to face the music.

She needed a new starter, or at the very least, a reconditioned one.

So I left her in the capable hands of mechanic Declan Corcoran, who worked tirelessly over Valentine’s Day to put her to rights. 

“Be gentle with her, Dec, she’s all I have in the world,” I said, before tearfully letting her go. And I’m delighted to report that with the repairs over, I have a jeep very much back in the full swing.

She comes alive with the gentlest touch.

Once more the love affair between my jeep and I continues.



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