30 VEHICLES……CHAPTER 1 – SUZUKI JIMNY- part 1 .


There are plenty of cars on the road today with 4X4 styling and street-machine souls. But the Jimny is a genuine cross-country vehicle. The sturdy ladder-type frame is a solid foundation for serious off-road performance. Its rigid three-section design helps stabilise the ride and absorb shock from the road. In combination with eight body mounts, a smooth-running engine, and comprehensive noise-reduction measures, the rigid frame helps make the Jimny as quiet as a family saloon. Rigid full-width axles provide a simple yet significant advantage. When one wheel hits a bump, the wheel on the other end of the axle is forced down, increasing surface contact. The result is superior grip on any terrain. The frame floats on a high-performance, three-link coil suspension that handles highway curves and rocky embankments with equal assurance. Separate shock absorbers and coil springs increase suspension travel and ensure smoother response. The ride is taut yet compliant, providing a high level of comfort for the driver and all passengers.

The Jimny is extremely driver friendly. On the road and in the rough, its high-performance features make handling easy for professionals and novices alike. Where you point, the Jimny follows. Its power steering provides not only welcome assistance in tight manoeuvres, but helps keep the Jimny tracking true. The Jimny stops as smoothly and surely as it goes. High-performance brakes are utilized on all four wheels, and the front disk brakes are of a large diameter for efficient heat dispersion. Since an 8-inch vacuum servo amplifies the force you apply to the brake pedal, little effort is required to bring the Jimny to a halt. As a safety precaution, Suzuki includes an LSPV (Load Sensing Proportioning Valve) that helps prevent premature locking of the rear wheels during sudden braking and improves braking performance when the vehicle is fully loaded. Compact dimensions also contribute to the Jimny’s handling. In the city, they help you slip through heavy traffic and into small parking spaces with ease. In the woods, they help you squeeze between boulders and trees. Unbeaten paths that would challenge other vehicles are a breeze in the Jimny. You’ll climb hills with confidence thanks to generous approach and departure angles and excellent traction enhanced by radial tyres with universal tread. Take the Jimny for a test drive and discover for yourself just how fun driving can be.

There is something about routine that just sweeps you along, the momentum of everydayness pushes you forward, step by step by step.
Even today, the routine takes over, pushes me out of bed, upright, heading towards the bathroom and even as I stare into the mirror, the routine kicks in and
before i know it, i’m cleaning my teeth, mouisturising my face, step by step by step…..downstairs, kettle, coffee, cigarette and then i come to a stop.

A complete stop

Sitting at the scarred pine table, smoke curling up from a cigarette i dont even remember lighting, mind actually blank as in nothing hapening, nothing fireing. I think to myself, could sit like this forever and if i did then nothing bad would happen and the day could pass and another day begin and this day, this particualr day would be over and everything would be alright.

Valentines day, February 14th…….. its a tricky day, a slippery day at the best of times, a day of disappointments, the cards that dont come, the underwear thsat doesn’t fit, the card that does come, the garage flowers left on the dirty sink.

Lovers feel the pressure to make a special something, an epic event, a picnic of passion.
Singletons , allowing hope to transcend experience, to ignore cold reality, reject the bitter past, still pad bare footed to the mail mat and like inexpert conjurers’ shuffle the post, looking for the lady, the knave, the king or queen of hearts.

i have had some bad Valentines days before, days when i too flipped the mail, looked out for the florists’ van, awaited the wrapped chocolate kisses dropping through the letter box and was disappointed, even, i have to admit, devastated.

But this, this Valentines Day is going to be bad, possibly even the worse and Im sitting here, unable to move, unable to even start but routine kicks in….step by step by step and then there I am, standing by the car, keys in hand, an apple grabbed by reflex habit from the fruit bowl in the kitchen.

The car is filthy, at its worst, end of winter, mud spattered, grime encrusted self. Its reached that stage in the year where the outside and inside have begun to blend. Mud, hay, straw, adhere to every surface, fill every vehicular nook and cranny and layers of clothes, boots, dirty towels have transformed the back of the car [ where in theory, two smallish passengers could sit] into a nest smelling of damp dog, old socks and cheap cigarettes.
The worse it gets, the more pleasure I take from it. My filthy car is quite literally, my dirty secret. The one place in my life where I allow chaos to rule, where all the rules of good housekeeping, healthy living and good manners fall away and where the floor can be an ashtray, chocolate wrappers are left in plain sight of anyone who passes by and where full fat cola drinks rule.
And of course, the car is now the only place where i smoke.This mornings’ kitchen cigarette an aberation, a sign of how bad today is actually going to be.
Somehow, cigarettes consumed in movement dont count, cannot cause harm and the actual act of smoking is only ever seen fleetingly by strangers as we wait for lights to change, so carries no moral judgement.

Smoking only in the car has changed my attitude to traffic jams, infuriatingly slow drivers, wearisome diversions, these now spell out not wasted, lost time, but an opportunity to indulge in some full on hardcore smoking, perhaps even the completely forbidden delight of lighting the new fag from the almost crushed butt of the last.
On most journeys now, i stare out of the window, cigarette in hand, defiant and making occasional eye contact with other smokers, its not quite the cameraderie of the fire escape or the back of the car park, but it wil do.

So, today, still on auto-pilot, i reach down and before I’ve even turned ed on the engine, i have a cigarette in my mouth, lighter flicking on, first drag and then a pause while I hold on to the smoke for as long as I can before exhaling.

The car makes the same noise its been making for the last few weeks and a little orange light comes on, I’ve decided that an orange light is only advisory and not some warning of impending doom, so I’ve been ignoring it and plan to ignore it today as well.

And the moment I have that thought…….I’m absoloutely in the present, the here and now is here and now and the reality of today hits me with as much force as an actual punch to my stomach. I think I almost make an audible grunt, the feeling is so visceral that it should actually hurt.

Deep breath, deep drag, drive.

Ive allowed myself plenty of time, a no rushed final good bye, thanks to all the staff,small gifts for extra effort in her last few weeks, time to gather her possesions together, a calm, dignified final day and that plan lasts exactly 11 minutes.

Because thats how long it takes me to hit the by-pass and join the 3 rows of completely immobile traffic.

There is a moment,a split second of disbelief, I see the brakes lights coming on ahead of me, sensible driver that I am, I brake too, even remember to look in the mirror.
I rationalise the potential delay up ahead, it’s that time of the day, traffic will be a little heavier, I have factored in the rush hour, there is no need to panic and then I realise that this is not the usual thing at all, this is hundreds of immobile cars and most tellingly, drivers have got out from the behind their wheels, are even talking to each other. No-one looks like they’re going a anywhere anytime soon.

I grip the steering wheel, take a deep breath, look at my watch, start re-calculating, mad maths in my head, how much time can I afford to lose here and still get there before its too late.

I light another cigarette, stare out of the window, try desperately to still the little voice, the one thats getting louder by the minute…..”you’re not going to get there in time”.
“You’re not going to get there in time”
“You’re not going to get there in time”

I need to drown out this voice, to still the panic.
I wish the CD player worked, but mud or hay or straw or some other detritus has jammed the mechanism, eaten the last CD pushed in there. I try the radio, remembering too late that dust or dog hair has also jammed that, leaving it determinedly on Radio 4 and so I am reduced to Thought for the day, some youthful Buddhist with a Glaswegian accent bemoaning the rapid pace of contemporary life.
The irony is not lost on me, I want to punch the radio, scream into his smug earnest face, instead, I hit the steering wheel, hard and wish desperately for some of the rapid pace of life he so dispises.

I start making phone calls, frantic phone calls to anyone I think can help, I leave desperate messages on mobiles, home phones, work numbers…..
“Don’t do anything until I get there”
“Don’t let anything happen without me”
“Wait for me to get there ”

I’m trying to text people one handed while trying to creep from lane to lane to make any forward progress, any progress at all.

I seriously consider simply driving down the hard shoulder, wonder what would actually happen if I did.

I look at the fields beside the road, the Suzuki is meant to be fabulous off road, could I just go off piste, off message, go as the crow flies.

Off the beaten track, the Jimny’s dual-range transfer case maximizes the little 1.3’s output. In low range the torque deficit is compensated for with revs, and the transfer case is more than capable of hard graft.

Actuated by a push-button selector on the centre console, the transfer case can switch between 2WD high and 4WD high while in motion. When the going gets rough the Jimny needs to come to a halt when changing between 4WD high and 4WD low, but the vacuum-operated hubs mean the driver can remain in the vehicle.

The Jimny’s underpinnings are tungsten-tough, and classic off-roader material. That small body rides atop a ladder-frame chassis, and suspension is taken care of by coil-sprung three-link live axles front and rear.

Braking hardware consists of ventilated discs at the front and drums at the rear, with the front caliper mounted at the top of the rotor to reduce the chance of damage from rocks, sand and gravel.

Its small overhangs and short wheelbase also give extra benefits off road. Ground clearance is 190mm when unladen, with a best approach angle of 42 degrees and a departure angle of 46 degrees.

A wheelbase of 2250mm gives the Jimny a ramp breakover angle of 31 degrees – more than enough to get over most mildly challenging humps. Its turning circle is also reasonably tight at 9.8 metres.

Long story short, don’t be fooled by its appearance – the Jimny ain’t no limp wristed soft-roader.

Suddenly, it all just becomes too much and I start to sob, to weep, my face contorted in agony, I rest my head on the steering wheel, shoulders shaking in despair. I can’t stop myself, I am actually beside myself with grief and impotence and rage.

And then I realise that really beside me, in the next lane is a white van and in the white van is white man, the actual white van man and he’s looking at me, in fact he’s staring at me, but its with concern, he looks worried, he actually looks as if he wants to get out of the van, looks like he wants to come over, speak to me, try and make it better.

I take a very deep breath, run my fingers through my hair, shake my head, I can’t find a tissue so inelegantly, I wipe my sodden, snotty, smudged face with my sleeve.
I try to give out a vibe of alrightness, try to give out a mute message, because the last thing I need is sympathy for white van man.

And then, from nowhere, there is a gap in the traffic, a possibility of movement and I take it.
As mysteriously as it came, the traffic jam has cleared, I put my foot down, the car judders, the bloody squeaking noise is back, but I’m moving, I might even make it in time.

20121101-210147.jpg

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: