False Friends #57: Laughing Clowns, Mummulgum

Vehicles today? Tin wimps.

They default to Limp Home mode after the mildest of shocks or a perceived insult, and only a mechanic and a big bill can restore their mojo.

It wasn’t always this way. Before ‘Limp Home’ was even a thing, Wes Piddens could usually/ sometimes/ occasionally get a dead vehicle somewhat mobile using nothing more than a soft drink can, steel wool, 5-minute Araldite, a bra strap and an axe. There was no such thing as a stranded axe murderer if Wes was around.

Wes was temporarily without wheels. Ferret Burroughs offered to sell him his Nissan Cedric cheap, but Wes was leery.

“I’m a bit leery about Cedrics, mate. I mean, the badgework. It’s gold AND silver. Any woman will tell you that’s not a good look. And who is, or was, Cedric anyway?”

“It’s a classic.”

“It’s got no back window.”

” That? I sold it for good money. Everybody is after them.”


“Listen, take it home tonight. See how you like it.”

About 15 minutes out of Casino, Wes pulled up to let a carpet snake get across the road, but the Cedric failed to get going again. Something was holding it back.

“What the five-flavoured Fruit Tingles would cause that? (Sniffs). Smells a bit clutch-ey, no, brake-ish”.

Wes crawled under Cedric and, with the aid of a pointed stick, managed to back off the rear brake adjusters a tad.

“Just like that,” he remarked smugly and resumed his westward journey unimpeded.

“How’d she go?” asked Ferret next morning.

“Well, she stopped near Mummulgum.”

“That’s a shock.”

“But I just had to back off the brake adjusters a smidge with a pointed stick and she was right as rain.”

“You know, I don’t think I really want to sell it.”

“You knew about the brakes, didn’t you? You sleaze.”

“Never been good with brakes. Only brake fluid.”


“One time I’m driving and I’ve got Mum with me and she’s back seat driving and giving me orders and grief. I’ve had enough, and I turn around to give her a piece of my mind, but ‘Bang!’ I’ve run up the back of the car in front.”

“You chump.”

“The first thing I hear is me Mum, going off. ‘Right. That’s it. You’ve done it. You’ve done it! I hope you’re happy. You’ve killed me! See what you’ve done?’

I was already over that so I got out and checked the other car. It was a wagon and the back seat had come forward and trapped the three passengers up against the front seat and you could only see their heads stickin’ up, looking around.

You know those laughing clowns at the Lismore Show and you put the balls in their mouth? They looked just like that. Eyes left, eyes right. I swear.

“Anyway they weren’t going anywhere soon, so I went and got a can of brake fluid from me boot and dribbled it over me brakes. Then I hopped back in the car and pretended to be unconscious.”

“You cunning little bugger.”

“So eventually the cops turned up. I regained me consciousness, mumbled something about brakes failing, and went all woozy. Next thing you know they packed the whole lot of us off to hospital for observation, and I never got charged.”

“You devious rodent!”

“Can I have that pointed stick?”

A lesson to us all.

Bullgoose from Bonalbo is our regular columnist

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