People talk about cat and dog years, and I reckon if you translated that to cars my beastie would be geriatric.
I exaggerate. Eleven years old. Still, a decent innings, and I hope many years to go. Trouble is she’s starting to cost me a fair bit in repairs.
I put her into the garage for something basic recently. Went online to try and guess how much it would cost: £75. Actual result after other ailments were discovered: £750.
You start going doollally
The trouble with shocks like that is you start going financially doollally.
Like everybody else, I’ve a wish list of items I’d really like but which would be economically unwise to buy at present.
Then you get a bill like that and think: ‘Why the hell do I bother stinting on anything?’
It makes £500 for an executive-style nostril hair remover seem reasonable.
So I start buying lots of things because, if you’re going to do something, like make yourself penurious, you might as well do it properly.
I like my old car…
But I like my old car. I try to clean her up before putting her in the garage, as if that would get me brownie points.
But you know what it’s like when I clean something: it gets dirtier.
Apart from anything else, the two back seat are always down so that I can load up with big bags of soil, gravel, hair gel and so on. The result is a bit messy.
The other problem I have is that I haven’t driven another car for six years. Are they all basically the same?
That time in France
Many years ago, I hired a car in France.
I couldn’t get this beastie to start and had to go back into the hire car office, only to be told that I should be depressing the clutch, putting on the windscreen wipers, and whistling La Marseillaise while knocking my knees together rhythmically.
I wish it had never started. I made a hash of driving on the wrong side of the road, at one point hitting a bollard and getting a flat tyre.
My girlfriend ended up driving. In a possibly related development, she left me shortly afterwards.
The French connection
Funnily enough, my present jalopy has had trouble starting of late.
Twice I put it into the garage and twice they said it was starting fine.
But it wasn’t, so I went online and folk said, once again, that you should try depressing the clutch, giving it (a diesel) 30 seconds to warm up, and singing La Marseillaise.
Seems to work. But I still worry on turning the ignition key when I’m far from home.
When she does start, I whoop with joy, pat her on the steering wheel, and say: “Well done, old gal.”
Maybe I’m old fashioned
I hope you don’t mind me referring to my car as “she”. It’s kind of an old habit.
I used to work on a local paper that carried a lot of shipping news and our editor, a veteran feminist, insisted boats and ships were “she”. I don’t know the reason.
With my car, I like to think of it as affectionate. Maybe it’s old-fashioned.
I’m not getting any younger, you know. Indeed, my car probably thinks: ‘I wonder how old Rab is in car years?’