If shed is a place where undisclosed activities take place- where private time is spent, time spent not playing with the kids, playing with nose-hairs instead- then car is urban shed.
A child got into mine last week and observed that it smelled- not just of poo, but of old poo.
Naturally, I blamed Rufus but the stench of shame out-stank it: I have since set about sprucing up the interior by means of hoovering and coconut waxings so that now the old poo odour wears the whiff of a Caribbean holiday.
World of Car is peculiarly intimate- a traveling capsule wardrobe of its owner. It distills all the charming character traits a casual visitor to the home would need a cup of tea to pinpoint: Aha! Directionless list-maker with a questionable taste in music.
Like the open-plan work station, it is designed to feed basic ugly needs within the proximity of an outstretched hand: communication, sustenance, excretion absorbancy, lip moisturisation.
Unlike the open-plan work station, finessing is redundant as passers-by are a.) strangers b.) passing by too fast to pass judgment. Intrusions will be shortlived:
‘I’m in my World of Car. You’re basically looking into my bedroom. I may be in a queue, plucking my eyebrows and scoffing a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup while mouthing the words to what you deduce to be Barry Manilow’s hit ‘Mandy’, but as soon as the lights change I will be out of your life for good.’
Only here is rubbish allowed to co-habit undisturbed with snot tissues, a mauled A-Z and the spoils of dehydrated motorway service station hang-over stops, for interminable stretches of time; only here may penicillin party on the remnants of a Ginsters sausage roll.
Except in the inner sanctum of those for whom car-as-extension-of-self is exaltatory: people who arrange, suspend or otherwise undignify fluffy animals in the business of hauling their public-transport-averse bods from A to B; for whom a plastic tulip in a vase-effect plastic moulding is a day-brightening experience.
Or in Clean Cars, to which adheres (as to the virgin bride) the indelicate aura of ravagings ahead- the releasing of a toddler into a decontaminated rental vehicle aping the proposition of blank canvas/ paint bucket to Jackson Pollock: it will be transformed.
Meanwhile, usually NOT to be found in boot- the only proper secret space- is a corpse. But universally not a spare tyre, oil, water or health kit.
Because in an emergency- when the engine dies and the nearest phone is 3 horror-film miles away- what will really be required is a fishing net and nibless biro, those well-known objects of redemption…
Possibly sensing his work as exposer incomplete, poo child fiddled in the glove compartment on arrival and out fell a packet of marshmallows.
Our exchange of looks, wordless, was loaded thus:
‘You conceal sweets.’
‘Bruno’s Mum is a sweetaholic.’
‘Because what happens in urban shed stays in urban shed.’
All the same, double helpings of chocolate ice-cream with mallows on top for a certain little sir at tea-time.
And just a cup of green tea (one day at a time, one day at a time) for me.