Car News: Boris’ Clatty Car

A weekly look at all that sucks in the automotive world, and some good bits

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Boris Johnson’s filthy car interior, a Toyota Turd

The photographs of Boris the Boor’s clatty car – as shambolic as its owner, indeed, as his hair style – got me wondering if both are calculated idiosyncrasies. Does he mess up his car too as a gimmick?

A careful look at the inside of his Toyota offers up a still life of slovenliness. It is a tip. I could be looking at an installation by Tracy Emin, or a stationary wreck used by a dosser. There are empty food cartons, water bottles, crumpled clothes, children’s books (does he have children hidden somewhere?), biscuit and bread crumbs, shopping receipts and without a doubt, a few thousand skin follicles and blonde hairs embedded in the cloth upholstery and carpets. It leaves you guessing what his pad must be like, stained carpets, three month’s of dust everywhere, rancid toilet bowl, hair in the shower plug hole, same bed sheets for a month. How in hell does he give a friend a lift without apologising?

I know from visiting a few thousands homes in my time; you won’t believe how some people live. Hoarders are people with an illness. In general terms, the worst were not students universally bereft of the concept of health and safety. If they owned a car they tended to keep it in a cleaner condition than their digs. In my travels it was relatives, an elderly couple I knew who made their money out of buying and selling good quality silverware. Their house was stacked from floor to ceiling with boxes of the stuff, and their days spent polishing items on a rota system. They never cleaned their house or their old Hillman Humber – it was used as a storage van.

The filthiest car interior I have encountered was owned by a stable lass and horse trainer struggling to get to grips with her alcoholism. Not only was her car full of horse tack and horse hair, and manure on the mats, but the luggage area of her estate held boxes full of tins of food she had amassed together with empty glass jars and bottles. Hitting the brakes and the lot would have met the back of her head in an emergency stop. Eventually I convinced her to empty her car of garbage. Months later she drove by me on the motorway and the car was as filthy as before.

Cleaning the interior of your car ought to be a monthly chore if you can’t pay a car valet expert to do it. I try to wipe the steering wheel at regular intervals with a damp cloth spayed with kitchen worktop fluid. As for the plastics, the technique is to spray the cloth not the dash or door cards to avoid leaving a permanent stain when the surface dries.

Hoovering in between tights spaces, front seats and transmission tunnel the hardest areas to reach, is a must if we are not to let grit, mud, coins, and fluff collect in the seat rails. If you like sitting in a clean sofa, there’s no difference to sitting in a clean car seat. So take out the floor mats to give them a thorough thrashing once a week. Don’t leave bottled water on the car floor. It can roll under the foot pedals and cause mayhem. Remove stuff that doesn’t need to be there – do you really need to use your car as a secondary wardrobe and odds ‘n ends store?

My daughters are grown up now but I remember not allowing them crisps or chocolate, and I hated using the car for a day at the beach. Sand is a real mugger to remove. It gets under the carpets and into the gear mechanism. Then there are the smokers and the nose pickers. At the traffic lights I saw a woman stub her cigarette out on the neck of the wing mirror. The melted holes told me it was her habit.

A Nottingham University study some years back tested messy cars. They took swabs from steering wheels, gear sticks and footwells, the main areas we touch when driving, and found evidence of Staphylococcus and E coli. Yuck! That could be the reason you keep getting stomach ache.

The professor in charge of the deep clean team said:

“We found a lot of things we expected to find like microbes associated with skin, soil and dust. Soft furnishings tended to carry much higher levels and our potential E. coli, a faecal bacterium, came from a child’s car seat. These types of bacteria can get transferred not just through poor personal hygiene, but also from animals or even manured soils. High moulds levels were another common finding and could be a problem for some asthma sufferers. Simple cleaning would reduce this. We found wet wipes were very effective on hard surfaces.”

As for Boris Johnson’s car, he doesn’t have to clean it. He probably never cleaned anything in life except his own body and even then liable to miss important parts. (Don’t think about it!) It is only when you see how he lives you know his premiership will be just as lazy, chaotic and stink to high heaven. Be thankful you’re not his chauffeur.


Monsoon rains

Driving gingerly through three feet deep flash floods in Edinburgh in my old RAV4 – praying the door seals are good – I wondered how many waterlogged drivers I saw will be moving up to an SUV. Any number of car manufactures produce high riding vehicles; even the once specialist sportscar companies do it such as Lamborghini and Aston Martin. In Edinburgh you need their suspension and big tyres to combat the terrible road surfaces in our, quote ‘World Heritage Site’ unquote, but the flooding will convince drivers to dump their small city-suitable runabout to buy a large SUV.

Edinburgh council transport policy

As I read the council paragraph attached to this item, I am watching the heavens open up and a monsoon downpour hit the earth outside my office window, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Laying aside a decent bicycle costs anything from $250 upwards, the average £500, the capital is a series of tortuous precipitous hills. How are we expected to tackle Scotland’s chronically negative weather at any age or infirmity walking or on a two wheeler? Some people need cars. Legislate to have them small or micro for city use. Not everybody can leap on a bicycle and go twerking off into the sunset. Here is Council Leader Adam McVey’s (SNP) latest Report: “Our emphasis on reducing private car usage by investing in walking, cycling and public transport to cut emissions, reduce congestion and boost people’s health, is at the heart of ongoing projects such as the City Centre West East Cycling Link, West Edinburgh Active Travel Network and Meadows to George Street route.

The bus as weapon

Dropping off a relative recently at a railways station in filthy weather, nowhere to park, I was forced into the far end of a tourist bus parking area, not right in, just on the edge half on the exit. Just as the relative made to remove her suitcase from the rear, the driver of the one bus parked at the far end decided he didn’t like my thirty-second drop and drove straight at the rear door so she could not open it. He stopped two inches clear. There are moments when shocked by homicidal drivers you come close to killing them. If any readers have had a similar experience I’d like to hear it.

Happy motoring, if you can manage it!



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1 Response to Car News: Boris’ Clatty Car

  1. angusskye says:

    GB, you highlight one of my phobias – filthy car interiors and grubby steering wheels and gear sticks in particular. My wife has just started a part-time job as a relief postie so let’s spare a thought for all those who have to drive vehicles other that their own. One of the 2 vans she drives as “cover” is clean and tidy, the other is a tip. (The normal postie is a crofter who uses it to transport all sorts of croftery things, living, dead and for feeding the living things.) She now carries a pack of wipes to clean before she sets off on her rounds, ironically mainly of crofters.

    Prior to retirement the brewery I had ran half a dozen delivery vehicles and the grubby steering wheels were often accompanied by the delightful odour of spilt beer that got under the floor lining and really hummed, particularly in summer. Short of taking up the lining there was nothing to be done. Apologies for putting you off your lunch!

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