One winter, me and the missus got to housesit for someone who was going to the USA for a few months. It was ideal: We didn’t have to pay any rent, just promise to keep the grass down and make sure the battery in the owner's old Ford Fiesta didn't go flat in the cold.

Well, I managed to dig out the Fly-mo and do the lawn the day before she came back.

The Fiesta's battery? Not so fortunate.

I had tried, you see. In those days, I wasn't the driving guru I claim to be now. Licence-less, I could only tootle it down to the end of the driveway, spend half an hour getting it into Reverse, then edge it back.

Admittedly, I only did this once.

It was a very cold winter, you see.

I called out twice (the owner was a member), but at the second asking the kindly SR operative informed me, hunched over in the January cold, that I was dealing with an ex-battery.

Winter had laid waste to that battery the way five tins of Christmas Quality Street had laid waste to my diet.

I said to the missus: "It was built in 1999, what did she expect?" But the words were hollow.

She said, "We were asked to do one simple thing..."

"Two if you include the lawn-mowing," I replied (which as I mentioned, we did actually do).

The moral of the story is, a battery isn't just for Christmas, it's for about three years or so. Anyway, if you find yourself trying to resuscitate a battery in an aging hatchback this winter, just read this article.

If I'd had it to hand it would have saved me a lot of heartache.

(Actually the owner was OK about it after we gave her a leftover tin of Quality Street and our old salad spinner.)