This morning I was heading off to a meeting to hand over the final renders for the Sexual Ethics DVD that will be getting put together this month.
On my way there I found the steering sagging to the left a fair bit - the car always tugs to the left a little bit anyway, and considering the sheer cold we've been having lately (as low as minus 12 centigrade for those of you of a non-UK-resident persuasion) ... and perhaps my own limited car know-how ... I was figuring the steering column might be suffering from the cold snap, being that it's power steering and all.
Then over the sound of the stereo (at that point it was The Ramones) I started hearing a rather odd noise, just a lot of noise really and I began to think the engine was gonna give out - again feeding into my "it's the really cold weather" theory (the car hasn't really moved in the past couple of weeks), but then all of a sudden as I was beginning to slow for a car up ahead there was an loud bang/thud and the car drooped (seemingly) momentarily to the left - I thought I'd gone into a pot-hole that I'd not spotted.
With that distraction done with, there was some sturdy breaking for the person up front who'd now decided to turn right. At this time I was getting some severe steering wheel wobble, which only worsened considerably when I accelerated away again after the car in front had moved aside - clearly, something very wrong had happened and I ditched the car in a random drive way less than 100 metres away (which was handy).
Get out, have a gander - yep - flat tyre, my first ever flat tyre.
Rang my folks to let them know (a prudent idea considering my battery was (in)conveniently running low), and let the guy who I was meeting know too. Right - with my Dad heading out to provide back-up automatically (that's what good Dads do after all), I set about gathering the tools - the thingymy that you wind round (I forget the name, haha) and the jack (which I'd forgotten was under the bonnet in a little compartment.
Right - those tools now ready, let's get the spare tyre ... lift up the boot carpet ... where's the bloody tyre?! I'd been thinking of my Dad's car, which has the tyre in a cubby hole inside the boot, but that's not the case on my car - check the manual and yep, it's underneath and I have to unscrew a decidedly French device to unlock and lower the spare.
At which point my Dad had already arrived (the kind lady who owned the house and in turn drive way I was parked on, letting him park up at her garage) with experience and gloves.
With ideal supervision - in a veritable father-son moment - we set about jacking up the car, although I made sure I was doing it all to acquire my own experience. Anyway - car up - nuts off (tight enough to require a swift kicking), tyre off and ... what do you know ... it wasn't a normal flat ... and it wasn't a pot-hole I'd gone through.
In fact - the tyre had exploded. I'd had a "blow-out" at 40mph (approx), hence the bang/thud I'd heard and the violent shake of the steering wheel. So it's was double-experience this morning for me then - how to handle a blow-out (instinctively it seems, and grip the wheel like a bastard) and change a tyre.
Anyway, new tyre on, pressure checked and off I went ... ... remembering after almost setting off to fasten the spare tyre clip thingymajig - the very French solution to the problem of securing a spare under the car, that is. A moment of faff later and all was well again and off I trundled, my Dad taking the blown out original back home (basically on the inside of the wheel (which you can't see when the wheel is attached, of course) there was just a huge gash around the entire circumference).
And if that wasn't an eventful enough journey, some more firm breaking was required when a 4x4 decided to pull out at an inopportune moment ... yeah, cheers for that, haha.
So yep - at the ripe old age of 24, I got my first opportunity to change a car tyre ... ... and have a blow out at the same time.
In other news - Contempt of Conscience is apparently going to be shown on Al-Jazeerah (the English-speaking version of the news channel, Sky channel 5-something-something). Not sure when, but when I do know, I'll pimp the details here.