The People's Friend
In her weekly column, Maddie Grigg shares tales from her life in rural Dorset . . .
ABOUT ten years ago, I fulfilled a long-held dream and bought a vintage VW Beetle. I used to drive one years ago, when I was in my early twenties, but I’d always wanted a convertible.
So I saved up my money and found one on ebay. It had a full service history and was being sold by a district nurse who didn’t feel comfortable using it on her rounds.
She had been given it by her parents for her twentyfirst birthday. I suppose she had grown out of it.
I, on the other hand, was forty-five and in my second childhood. So, accompanied by Mr Grigg, his daughter and my two-year-old granddaughter, we drove all the way up from Dorset to Bedford to view the vehicle.
I was smitten as soon as I saw it. I wasn’t really worried about the condition. It looked all right on the surface and I knew it was the car for me. And besides, it was bright yellow.
A deal was struck and the owner’s father drove the car down to us a week or so later, then I delivered him to the train so he could make his way back up to Bedford.
My garage man looked the car over and said it seemed like a good buy, but there were a few areas where the rust was coming through and it needed attention.
Over the years, my car has had lots of attention. Bits done here and there, then a complete strip down and respray when we were living in Corfu.
I’m not one for giving cars names – a car is a car, after all – but she has become known as Bella after we drove down through Italy and the people we passed would shout, “Bella! Bella!”
I am still very fond of Bella, but wonder now if it is time for her to move on. I don’t get as much time as I would like to take her out for a spin. It seems rather extravagant to have two cars.
But still, there are times when I get to go out in her and enjoy the ride, with Mr Grigg on these occasions getting behind the steering wheel.
We’ve just come back from a classic car evening at a pub over the border in Somerset. Once a month, enthusiasts gather there and park their gleaming vehicles for others to admire and swoon over.
We were accompanied by Nobby Odd Job in his smart red Mercedes soft top, another man from the village who has a Singer Gazelle, another with a Frog Eye Sprite, and a man down the road who has an MGB GT, among a clutch of other classic cars. It was quite a gathering.
Bella nestled beside another Beetle – older and duller, in my opinion, although the experts would probably not think so.
There they were, talking about torque and other things I do not understand. All I was interested in was the colour of the cars and how cute or otherwise they were.
But we were all agreed on our favourite car of the evening – a most stupendous Aston Martin DB5, with the registration number 006. We learned it was probably worth in excess of £100,000.
After popping into the pub for faggot and chips, I was all fired up about my vintage Bella until we realised the indicator cable was loose and I’d have to do hand signals out of the driver’s window because the winker didn’t work properly.
And this, my friends, is one of the joys of having an old car. If it’s not a faulty indicator, then the speedometer and fuel gauge don’t work.
Happy motoring! n