I got out of the car and pressed the button on my gadget. Normally when I do that there is a satisfying "Thunk!", the indicator lights flash, and all the doors lock themselves. But this time nothing at all happened. No noise, no lights, no locks. The car had completely run out of thunk. Damn! I thought. The battery in my gadget must be flat. I locked the car with my ignition key and went about my business. It felt very strange. I hadnt used the ignition key for anything except starting the engine for so many years that Id lost count, and I was fumble-fingered and awkward when I tried to insert it in the door.
An hour or so later I returned to the car and experimentally I pressed the button on my gadget again. But it was fruitless. The car remained thunkless. I drove home, pondering the nature of a car without thunk.
"Its broken," I explained to Robin.
She looked puzzled, as well she might. "What is?" she asked.
I waved my gadget at her. She was not impressed. "Call that a gadget?" she asked scornfully. "Thats not a gadget. This is a gadget!" With an excited flourish she waved her own. But it did no good. The car refused to thunk.
It seemed unlikely to me that two thunk-causing gadgets would stop working simultaneously. Surely their batteries would not go flat within seconds of each other? And anyway, when I looked more closely, each gadget flashed a green light when its buttons were pressed. If the gadget was broken, surely it would flash a red light? Clearly the gadgets were functioning normally. The car itself must have a broken thunker.
"Have you checked the level of the think in the thunk tank?" asked Robin. "It might need topping up." In a previous life, Robin had been a car mechanic. She knows about these things.
"I didnt know I had a thunk tank," I confessed.
"You dont," said Robin, "but the car does." She checked, but the thunk tank was almost overflowing with think. Clearly that wasnt the problem.
I drove the car to an auto-electrician called Chris. "I have no thunk and I must clank," I explained.
"Leave it with me," said Chris, helpfully. "Ill soon have your car thunking again."
"Thank you," I said. "Sorry to impose such a thunkless task on you." Chris winced and I could see him mentally adding $20 to my bill...
Happy that the car was in good hands, I gave Chris my ignition key and my gadget. Then I went for a long walk with Jake the Dog. Half way through the walk, my phone rang. "Hello?"
"Hi," said a voice. "This is Chris."
"Hello, Chris," I said. "Have you got good news for me?"
"Yes and no," said Chris. "The good news is that I traced the circuit and found a blown fuse. So I put a new fuse in and pressed the button on your gadget..." He paused.
"And the bad news?" I encouraged him.
"And I got a sort of half-hearted thunk," he said. "Then the fuse blew again."
"That doesnt sound hopeful," I said.
"No," said Chris, "Im going to have to fit a whole new thunker. The old one is, to use a technical term, munted."
"As in stuffed?" I asked.
He shook his head dolefully. "No," he said, "its much worse that that."
"So what exactly does the repair involve?" I asked.
"Eye wateringly large amounts of money," said Chris in deeply satisfied tones. With a heavy heart, I told him to go ahead with it.
The new unit thunks in a most satisfying manner when you press its extraordinarily big gadget. I can also thunk from much further away than I could before. I can do it from all the way across the car park which makes the car look as if it is saying hello to me as soon as it spots me coming. I find this very gratifying.
"Theres an added bonus," said Chris as he handed me the new gadget. "Ive put a red LED on the dashboard. When you lock the car with your gadget, the thunk starts the LED flashing and everyone will think you have a car alarm. You havent got a car alarm, its only a flashing light, but nobody except you and I know that."
"Cor!" I said, impressed.