WHISPERING SMITH: Groans and hisses speak volumes for wheezy cars

THE most over-used phrase by a driver with a problem is “My car is making a funny noise”, not, “I have got something wrong with the transmission, the alternator or the whatchamacallit.”

Reason is that most of us nowadays haven’t a clue what goes on under the bonnet of our cars – I couldn’t even find the bonnet release when the mechanic asked me to open it when, last week, I took my car in with some strange noise emitting from its front end.

Noise is our thing and we do know a bang, a hiss, a groan or a cry for help when we hear it.

Back in the day, drivers knew a great deal more about their engines and would be as readily handy with a wrench as the average mechanic and tinkering with greasy things was a national Sunday morning pastime.

HAVE you ever had the nightmare of renewing a passport?

This is my third, so you would think they might know me by now but, no, still got to tell them who I am and the numbers of previous passports, if you can find them.

I thought, as we are long-standing members of the EU, should I even need one?

The boxes are tiny and faint, the questions ridiculously confusing and the language unforgiving. Ruined four forms, not all my fault, though my signature went a millimetre out of one box, I signed the wrong box on another and my guarantor screwed up as he was decidedly uncertain that the miserable looking character in the photograph was actually his cheerful neighbour of 20 years.

The cat walked across one with muddy paws and I lost my temper altogether with the fourth, before deciding to cough up the extra pounds and to get the post office clerk to run an eye over it.

Now I sit and wait, fretfully hoping that the renewal will return in time for my French holiday, else I am off to north Devon.

MY recent post on Flashback, Littlehampton, mentioning that the dedication plaque on the new Stage by the Sea had been nicked, produced 72 comments from ‘round up the usual suspects’ to ‘an old person did it and ran away’, plus a whole load of advice on parenting.

However, not a soul appeared to mourn its passing!