Steve Berry talks about his impulses and our Letter of the Week is coveting the Triumph TR7. The crossword's here too.
‘Please, I’m begging you – save me from myself.’ Clearly this was a cry for help. Mine. It was on one of my Facebook posts (yes ‘my Facebook’ – it’s what the young people say). I’d been looking at a down-on-its-luck Italian car of around 30 years’ vintage offered for sale on a popular internet auction site.
It was a ‘barn find’ Alfa Romeo Giulia, blessed with an interior and exterior that had left the factory in shades better suited to the 21st century than most cars of a similar age. What struck me about this ‘barn find’ was that you could actually see the barn it was found in – a bit of a novelty for this modern phenomenon. I wanted it.
I had expected the social media equivalent of a glass of water in the face or perhaps even a short, sharp slap to bring me to my usually unflinching Mancunian senses. Or at least something really hard-hitting like: ‘Stop being so bloody daft.’ Or words to that effect.
The comments came in thick and fast from as far afield as Bolton, Preston and Bury, but also from Los Angeles, Vancouver and Dubai. ‘You have to save it, Steve. Don’t let it die.’ ‘It’s an Alfa (that bit was right). It’s not a car, it’s a work of art!’
People mean well, I think, but there’s a reason they’re so encouraging and I believe it’s as simple as this – they won’t be doing the work. Announce you’re climbing the Matterhorn, swimming the Straits of Malacca or buying a previously unloved motorcar sight-unseen based on a single small photograph taken at 10.34pm on an eight-year-old Nokia and people are awfully encouraging.
But I have previous, having earned my certificate from the School of Hard Knocks and my Masters from the University of Life. So I went to the best pub in Salford – The New Oxford on Bexley Square – and quietly sipped a pint of Outstanding Stout while somewhile else took the leap of faith. But as I sat in the public bar I had an idea that might help others.
There are people whose job it is to convince people that losing weight is no more complicated than eating less and moving around more, advising their chubby devotees to attach unflattering photos of themselves to the ‘fridge door. I’m advocating a similar policy but with your PC, laptop or hand-held digital device. Find the worst photograph you can of a car you’ve bid on. Yes, the one that seemed to be in fair-to-average condition but when work began proved to be condition ‘L’ – ie landfill. Scan and make it your screen saver. I’m not promising it’ll stop you, but it may give you cause for a pause as your mouse hovers over the ‘confirm’ button…
Former Top Gear presenter Steve’s Speedshop is on Wednesdays (7-8pm) on FAB Radio International.
‘As I sipped a pint I had an idea that might help others’