It’s a funny old world: Jane Wenham-Jones
My trusty car was 17 years old and had 130,000 miles on the clock. ‘I shall keep it till it drops,’ I’d declare, citing its long-established reliability, ease of parking and comfort. Plus the thought of clearing the boot was not for the faint-hearted…
It died, with spectacular finality, as I was leaving Brighton having interviewed the crime writer Peter James. One moment, we were rolling slowly along waiting for the lights to change, the next, nothing. The car wouldn’t go at all, and made a funny noise when I tried to make it.
As hoots began to sound behind me, I phoned the AA. They would have someone there within the hour, the nice lady assured me. ‘You’d better come a bit sooner than that,’ I said. ‘I’m blocking the road.’
When I’d been towed the 100 miles home, Tony the mechanic, broke the news. Oil had leaked in here, the wrong sort of fluid had got in there, something crucial had a crack in it, and the repair bill was likely to be four times what the car was worth.
‘Scrap it,’ said my son, as I gazed at my vehicle as if a close friend were about to breathe her last. ‘Get yourself a convertible.’
It was true I used to hanker after one, but as I emptied out a bundle of rackets I hadn’t used for years, a pair of trainers with holes in, a mouldering cushion and a stockpile of magazines, I could only think of what I’d lost. ‘I want one like this,’ I said petulantly.
Gathering up hundreds of tickets, old tax discs, water bottles, travel blankets, CDs, ice-scrapers and the original first-aid kit, my whole driving life flashed before me. I re-read the Christmas cards, the wedding invitation and the orders of service from three funerals, while glancing in disbelief at the handy compartment next to the steering wheel, which would’ve been so useful for my sunglasses had I only noticed it a decade ago. One bulging bin bag later, I ran a hand over the dent from when I’d overlooked the lamppost, and waved a sad farewell…
Then I hit Autotrader. On a site that boasts nearly half a million cars for sale, it can be surprisingly hard to find one you want. Younger clones of my dearly departed were too dear, the wrong colour or 300 miles away.
‘Get a convertible,’ my son suggested again.
‘Midlife crisis car,’ I retorted dismissively, clicking on yet another motor that looked ideal had it not been in Scotland.
‘What about this one?’ he said, shoving his mobile under my nose.
‘This one’ was red and shiny and had a roof that came off and a tiny boot I couldn’t stockpile with junk. Reader, I bought it.
Now I buff and polish, and pounce on clutter, enjoying the whirr and click as the roof comes down, whatever the weather.
To think I kept my old motor for so long, when all this time, I could’ve been cruising around with the music turned up and the wind through my hair. Midlife crisis? Bring it on.
My lovely home town of Broadstairs