Ticket to hide

Cleaning Hrududu today, I let K. hack away at the mud on the wheel-arch rims and hubcaps while I concentrated on the more civilized task of spraying the windows with Windowlene (I’ve received an official communication to the effect that the gerund “windowlening” is a misuse of the trademark). This turned out to be a poor choice, though, as the car began to warm up inside, and I couldn’t open a window for fear of soap suds being launched at me “accidentally” by my jealous lady. The windowleny aroma smell of Windowlene solvents nearly did for me.

I was cleaning the bottom of the windscreen, close to the dashboard, when my cloth seemed to brush against something, pulling it out of the thin end of the wedge of air between glass and plastic surround. It was a parking permit for the London Borough of Croydon, all its date and time ink bleached to blankness.

I’ve never parked this car in Croydon.

Perhaps it was dropped there by brightybot, who owned it before me (and still has a controlling stake in its future, oneday disposal). Well, perhaps. But as I set to work with my thinnest, longest screwdriver, I found I was fishing slip after paper slip out from the impromptu, dusty archive that I’d suddenly unearthed behind the dashboard. It read like a Croydon-centric guide to the London boroughs, with contributions from the like of Wandsworth, and Kensington and Chelsea. Some of the LBC tickets had, rather worryingly, started to turn brown with what I can only assume is the heat of some unidentifiable engine component that I’ve noticed warms that area of the bodywork. And then British Rail permits started appearing, with ink clearly more durable than that of the London boroughs: 26 NOV 02; 11 DMR 02; 03 OCT 96. Ten years ago.

These must date to the previous previous owner, I thought: from when the car was still new and fresh (it’s a 1993 model, so it was only three when this time capsule was begun). And, while hunting around like the Tiff Needell of Time Team, I’ve solved the riddle of why Hrududu occasionally, very occasionally, has the claustrophobic, nauseating smell of dead fags: the last few tickets, the oldest, came loose in a cloud of what might have been heavy dust but was almost certainly long, long deodorized cigarette ash. There must be a museum I can donate all this to. Even the ash.

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