It’s a funny old world: Jane Wen­ham-Jones

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - News - Au­thor 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

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