Look At It This Way - October 30, 2015

A manual that explains the workings of a baby in a way that can be understood by mechanically-minded  macho dads which is being published tomorrow.  The book, titled Baby, is being produced by famed car manual publishers Haynes.  Written by Dr Ian Banks, it has a fault-finding chart for problems ranging from fever to rashes.  See PA 0430 SOCIAL Baby.  PA photo/Haynes Manuals
A manual that explains the workings of a baby in a way that can be understood by mechanically-minded macho dads which is being published tomorrow. The book, titled Baby, is being produced by famed car manual publishers Haynes. Written by Dr Ian Banks, it has a fault-finding chart for problems ranging from fever to rashes. See PA 0430 SOCIAL Baby. PA photo/Haynes Manuals
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Haynes Manuals – the definitive guides to car maintenance – have saved me a fortune over the years… until cars got far too complicated.

Haynes turned 50 last year. I clock up 60 next year. If there was a Haynes Manual for me – and they have just brought out one for Challenger 1 Battle Tank – the ‘troubleshooting’ section would read: ‘clapped out, big end gone, needs silencer, scrap value zero.’

Not that I was ever that good at repairs. More botch jobs. The cars I passed on to dealers in part exchange would have been rejected by telly’s Steals on Wheels auctioneers – even for scrap.

Little was left. They were a mass of amateur soldering, drilled holes (to let water out), fibreglass-mesh patching holes in the body work, patchwork paint jobs.

My sanding down technique was so bad the spirit level used to demand an exorcism…

Why am I telling you this? God knows. And He probably drives a Bentley – hopefully not a recalled one.

I think it’s because Jeremy Clarkson has been in the news again for all the wrong reasons – spouting nonsense about Blackpool, Stella Artois, Syrians and fracking.

As social commentators go, he’s a really good car reviewer. He showed little interest in Blackpool when he came to switch on the Lights some years ago. The man’s all torque and trousers. Perhaps it’s time Haynes introduced a novelty Jezza manual.

Haynes has a Spitfire, Death Star, Sex and Men’s Baking Manual …but I can’t get one for a Nissan Note. Seriously.

John Haynes has been the one constant man-ual in my life for the last 39 years. Weather forecasters’ predictions of the worst winter for years thanks to El Nino make Jon Snow’s Winter is Coming look like one of Michael Fish’s understatements. I’ll be booting out the picnic kit, jellies and fold up chairs this weekend and putting rock salt, spade, de-icer, scraper and blanket in their place.

But the trusty Haynes manual, which used to nestle alongside oil, WD40, water, jump leads, spare bulbs and fire extinguisher has long gone. I miss it. You can’t get online versions covered with oil, blood, sweat, coffee – and a dash of anti freeze.

You can’t drop your iPhone in the innards of your car without damage – but the Haynes manual used to emerge unscathed, and take out a few spark plugs en route.

I look longingly at Martin next door – or should his wife Belinda be reading this, at Martin’s Mondeo, upon which he lavishes loving attention. I wish I felt like that about my Nissan Note.

And now I can’t even try and guess what’s up with it should things go bump in the night on Pendle Hill at Halloween – where my first car, a 1972 4.2 powder blue Jaguar gave up the ghost, about two days after belching black smoke on Hardknott and Wrynose.

These days, I no longer steam up my glasses doing radiator repairs. I don’t carry a socket set. I can’t change a tyre because my knees are tired.

So how do I get my kicks now? Here’s a tip. I hate Downton Abbey, but rather like the racing driver in it. If anyone’s capable of making dreary Lady Mary go from nought to ennui in 60 seconds it’s her racy new squeeze.

Home, James, and don’t spare the horse power.

The mind boggles as subtitles make a mess of Celebrity Gogglebox

Caught up with the celebrity version of TV’s Gogglebox the other day - and really wished I hadn’t bothered.

Even the comedians were far less funny than the usual couch potatoes commentating. However, the Stand Up for Cancer fund-raiser proved unintentionally funny – because of the subtitles.

I’ve been hard of hearing since pushing a Welsh mountain an inch across the English border with my face years ago in a hang gliding crash.

I often use subtitles on telly. But could I understand what was being said on that sofa? Judge for yourself from these examples.

One of the viewers had misheard the title of new series Eternal Glory. ‘Internal glory’? They queried. No. But if you were relying on subtitles for the programme title it would have come out as “each oral groan”.

A reference to a ‘little hair flick’ became ‘little Herr Flick’ subtitle-style – which sounded like a cast member from ‘Allo ‘Allo.

As for the point of celebrities passing judgement on telly – Standing Up to Cancer and all that? Subtitles interpreted it as “the sea word.” Not the C word.

Words fail me.