Two cars, one family: A different approach

THERE are times when the dramatic arc of a story needs more than words to bring it to life; times when it would be easier to draw the story in a multi-panel cartoon strip.

Eight panels, let’s say. Half an hour it’d take me, I reckon. Forty minutes tops. Look, I’ll show you:

Panel 1: Setting off for the NCT centre.

In this panel, I’d draw me at home; outside under the apple tree, trying to start the Nissan: pulling hard on a bunch of wires which hang exposed beneath the steering-wheel with my left hand, and turning the key round ever so gently until I hear a tiny click, with my right.

I’d draw my left ear leaning right in against the dashboard to illustrate just how quiet this click is, and a look of suffering on my face. I’d draw my husband in the green Toyota; he is parked alongside the Nissan, and his ignition process is going much better than mine.

You’d know this by the big smile I’ve drawn on his face, and you’d know how I feel by the speech-bubble above my head, which has, “The age of chivalry is dead, I see,” written in it.

Panel 2: Take-off.

For this, I’d draw my eldest son and two daughters in the background, placing bets. In their speech-bubbles I’d write, “25 to 1 for the Nissan to pass, 5 to 1 for the Toyota.” Then I’d draw me in the foreground, shooting off in the red Nissan like Stirling Moss, for once you hear that tiny click it’s absolutely crucial to keep going hard.

Depicting speed would be easy; splashing “VROOOM! VROOOM!” across the top of the panel would do the job.

Panel 3: Arriving at NCT centre to drop off Toyota.

We discover that when I take the keys out of the ignition to open the Nissan’s boot, the engine keeps running. I’d draw our eyes as big as eggs and out on stalks, with mainly the whites showing, to denote complete surprise.

Panel 4: Driving home in the Nissan.

I’d draw my husband driving; one hand on the steering-wheel and the other jangling the Nissan car keys at me where I sit in the passenger seat. In his speech-bubble I’d write, “Look! Amazing! A key-less car!” In my thought-bubble, I’d write, “Bad enough we can start it with a flat-head screwdriver. Definitely a long shot for the Nissan now.”

Panel 5: Setting off for NCT centre in Nissan, in order to drop it off and collect Toyota.

For this, I’d draw my husband pulling on wires. In his speech-bubble I’d write, “Mike [mechanic] said these wires aren’t a road-safety issue. You never know, we might be lucky yet.”

You can tell what I think of this by my eyebrows, which I’d draw supremely arched. You can also tell that for me, the gloss has definitely come off the “Look! Amazing! A key-less car!” party trick; when my husband performs it, I ignore him, which I illustrate by drawing me applying mascara in the rear-view mirror, which I find on the floor, where it has lain ever since my daughter yanked it round to apply hers.

Panel 6: Dropping Nissan off and picking up Toyota, which has failed its NCT on eight counts.

For this, I’d draw us sitting in the car outside the NCT centre. I’d sketch my husband poring over the NCT report, with his speech-bubble saying, “What the f*ck is wiper linkage?” Mine says, “how do normal people do this?”

Panel 7: Returning in Toyota to collect Nissan, which has failed its NCT on nine counts.

See panel 6.

Panel 8: Driving both cars home, stopping via Mike the mechanic.

To depict looming impoverishment, I’d sketch my husband standing under a sign saying “GARAGE REPAIRS,” with sagging shoulders and €50 notes leaking out of the pockets of his threadbare jacket. Or else I could just draw me, with a thought bubble above my head saying, “Thank God I bought that Asos dress online last night,” and a facial expression that depicts 99%relief, 1% guilt.

The final panel would simply have “The End” in it, painted in brush-script font, slanting up like at the end of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

There you go. 40 minutes tops.

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