Brace yourselves, Port's done himself an injury

| 8 Aug 2011

The weekend started so well: I got to prowl around an armoury collection in Hampshire with the two youngest Ports – playing with anti-aircraft guns, field guns and browsing around all sorts of engaging military machinery from the 1800s to the present day.

On the way back, I exchanged £30 for four original Dunlop D1 alloy wheels for our Mini: another midday-ending ebay bargain. While handing over the cash, I inspected the three Minis on the seller's driveway before being introduced to another three stashed in his 33ft long garage – all taxed, tested and used regularly. He made sure to tell me about the one his wife was driving around in as well, bringing the total up to seven classic Minis. Brilliant.

Sunday morning came, and instead of leaving the house at 6.30am, I had a lie-in. Mrs P brought me coffee in bed and all was looking rosy. And then a bloody modern car well and truly buggered things up.

The truth is that it was my own stupidity that put paid to the weekend. We are always mindful on C&SC to stress the importance of health and safety – goggles, masks, overalls, boots et al. Looking like you are trying to contain a nuclear spill is a small price to pay, so when I decided to jump up and down on a wheelbrace in order to shift the over-tightened wheel-nuts on our Peugeot 307 – in a pair of shorts and some sandals – it was inexcusable.

I could have blamed the tyre fitter that put the wheels on the car in the first place – the nuts were so tight that the wheel brace bent (that was before I put my considerable mass on it), but that would be churlish. I could blame the weatherman – if he’d forecast rain, I might have put my boots on in the first place, but I can’t. No, it was all down to me, and as a result, I am sitting typing this blog with a chunk out of the side of my foot and an ankle twice the size that it should be.

Of course, being a man, I haven’t even been to the hospital yet – opting instead to ‘see how it is in the morning’. The fact that I can’t walk on it at the moment doesn’t necessarily stop me intending on getting to the office in the morning, although I haven’t yet tried operating the accelerator pedal. If all else fails, now might be the time to utilise the baffling hand-throttle hidden under the dash of the Fiat 500.

So, as I sit here with one leg temporarily deformed, I urge you: think before you work on your cars. While I don’t want to delve into the realms of scare-mongering (I still think that having to fill out a ‘chemical’ risk form for WATER is over the top), the basics are easy to ignore, but equally as easy to NOT ignore. If I’d put my steel toe-capped work-boots on instead of my Quiksilver sandals, I would be fine. If I’d gone into the garage to get a long-handled wrench to grab some extra leverage on the wheel nuts, I would be fine.

Ironically, less than 48-hours previously I was writing a guide to setting up your workshop space and penning an entry extolling the importance of health and safety. Now how does the saying go? Do as I say, not as I do.