City to County:
James gets a wigging from the constabulary and some words of advice on car cleanliness
James comes clean on his grubby car after a brush with the law
Iwas pulled over last weekend – at the age of 35, my first brush with The Law. I won’t shame myself with details of the encounter, but I was on my way again a couple of minutes later with a friendly warning and some additional parting advice. “Oh, you should also clean your car. Your number plate is almost unreadable.”
The officer was right. Four winter months of dirt and grime had built up on my number plates to the point where I would almost certainly arouse suspicion if I found myself parked directly outside a bank.
I received little sympathy when I told my wife about my confrontation with The Law and the comments I’d received about the state of our vehicle, “I told you the car needed cleaning ages ago”.
But I’ve always had one big problem with washing cars, especially at this time of year – and it’s not laziness as my wife would have you believe. Cars just get dirty again. Plus, it never seems to be the right time to drop into a car wash and weekends are too precious and short for me to spend an hour getting wet in the cold. Scrap that, life is too short.
We have a modest 4x4 we swing around the muddy country lanes of Norfolk every day, so no matter how much time and effort I invest in making it nice and shiny, the satisfaction is likely to only last a couple of hours before a spatter of mud flies up the side of the car again.
And if you live in a rural area and have a 4x4 (or any vehicle for that matter) it should be filthy at this time of year. Surely it’s evidence the vehicle is fulfilling its purpose?
When I lived in central London you couldn’t help but notice the gleaming SUVs crawling around the busy streets at the weekends. Often chosen as a status symbol, it was sad to think that most of those vehicles would never splash through a muddy puddle or traverse some challenging terrain. A steep Chelsea driveway may well be the closest those cars would ever come to showing what they could do.
Later the same weekend I rummaged around in the garage for the bucket and sponge, donned my coat and reluctantly headed out to the driveway.
But just as I was about to get to work it started to rain. And everyone knows you don’t wash a car in the rain, especially when there’d soon be lots more deep, muddy puddles to splash through. I gave the number plates a quick wipe and headed back into the warmth of the house.
The car could wait a little longer for its clean. Perhaps until the summer.
ABOVE:Not often seen in London – a 4x4 in its natural environment