I didn't touch it, honest.

My Jeep was in perfect running order when I drove it back from the supermarket and parked it in the driveway.

I took the groceries inside, freezered the frozens, patted the cat, checked the garden for marauding horses, goats, sheep, chooks and blackbirds and then went back out to the vehicle, fending off several small dogs who wanted to come too.

Jumping into the driver's seat I turned the key and the dashboard lit up in a very Christmas-season-appropriate sort of way. But the Jeep didn't start.


I assumed I had mucked up the vehicle starting procedure so I tried again. More festive lights, but no festive feeling in my heart as the engine still failed to start.

I was due elsewhere shortly and the elsewhere was far too far to walk.

My mechanic's number is in my phone. Over the years he has rescued me from many, many episodes of keys-locked-in-cars.

Before I ever had a mobile phone he was so used to seeing me arrive on the forecourt, hot and flustered from having walked several kilometres, that he would look up wearily and say "Where is it this time?" as he reached for his breaking-into-locked-car tools.

I was delighted one day when I was able to reply with "Aha! I haven't locked my keys in! So there!"

I had a flat battery instead.

So when my Jeep refused to leave the driveway I rang him and he came round.

He hopped in and turned the key. Cue festive lights. No engine noise. I was almost pleased, as it's embarrassing when the mechanic turns up and the vehicle starts first time and looks all innocent like it hadn't played dead on you 10 minutes before.


The diagnosis was not great, the Jeep was going to need surgery. But in the meantime I had places to be and, while I had a second vehicle available, the Jeep was blocking the driveway. Could he just…? He could and he did and a bit of pushing and shoving later the broken vehicle was sitting on the lawn and I drove out in hubby's 4WD ute.

OK, first I went inside and got a cushion so I could see over the dashboard, then I drove out in hubby's 4WD ute.

The ute and I haven't always got on, it being manual, large and having a turning circle the size of a football field. But we've come to an uneasy truce. It's agreed to stop deliberately graunching its gears to make me look bad and I have agreed to not try to stuff it into hatchback-sized parking spaces and swear when it doesn't fit.

So off we went and back we came and it was fine until … some hours after I had got home I had a phonecall. A kind passer-by had noticed the ute's lights had been left on, and the small-town grapevine had kicked in and it was my mother-in-law ringing to let me know.

I went out and turned them off and could not bring myself to try the ignition. Surely if I ignored it, the possibility of a flat battery would go away?

It didn't.

The next morning when I tried the key, the ute went … click.

Click was not the noise I wanted to hear.

I rang my mechanic.

"Um…" I said. "I may have a flat battery."

He sent someone round straight away to start the ute.

I was very careful to turn the lights off that evening when I got home from work. I checked them twice.

The next morning I leaped out of bed without a vehicular care in the world. The Jeep's surgery was under way, the ute had had its lights turned thoroughly off and there was no reason to worry.

Until I got in the shower.

Was the water pressure a little low I wondered as I shampooed my hair. By the time I got to rinsing out the conditioner it wasn't a little low at all. It was a mere trickle and I was just lucky it wasn't leg-shave day because the trickle quickly decreased to mere drips.

Once dried and dressed I trudged down the paddock to the pump-shed and glared at the offending water pump.

"Failure" read the little red light on the pump.

"I noticed," I muttered and pressed the re-start button. The pump went woosh … then it stopped. Figuring I had nothing to lose I tried again. This time it just went shhh.

I turned it on and off at the wall, which usually sorts out the computer and the printer, right? Not water pumps, it seemed.

I trudged back through the paddock trailing three chooks, two ponies and a hopeful sheep who thought I was heading towards the feed shed.

Instead I headed inside, phoning the pump-fixing-bloke on the way. He said he would send someone out.

I walked through the back door and past the washing machine, careful not to touch it. I didn't go near the dishwasher either, and just stared wistfully at the coffee machine.

I wasn't going to touch anything else, in case I broke it.

Okay, I might just have made an exception for the coffee machine.