The past week has been taken up with the buying and selling of cars.   We have decided I do not drive enough to justify a car to myself; taxis would be cheaper; and that we will share a car in future.   John of course has dealt with most of this.   My input has been largely confined to climbing in and out to see if I found access easy enough, and commenting if I liked the colour.

I’ve owned five cars in my life (not counting those I’ve shared with John.)   The first, when I was 19, was a Mini Traveller with moss growing in the wooden bits.    Then I had a blue Mini van.   After that I had a Vauxhall Chevette, and finally two Volkswagon Polos.   As you can see, my main interest in vehicles has been their reliability and usefulness.   I absolutely did not want a vehicle that drew attention to itself in any way.

I once got flagged down by the police in the early hours of the morning returning to my parents’ house.   This was on an empty and unlit stretch of road.   I slowed down, but I did not stop until I came to a stretch of road which was well-lit and had occupied houses.   I suppose the police were surprised when the driver of the vehicle was a young woman;  they demanded to know why I had not stopped immediately, but when I replied that the road was empty and unlit;  I did not know what they wanted, but I had slowed down so they could easily follow me to an occupied  stretch of road, they did not argue the point further.   They looked into the back of my van and saw a box shaped object and decided they would check it out.   What’s that, they asked, in the act of opening the rear door.   It’s a bee-hive, I answered.   The policeman did not open the door any wider.   Are there bees in it?  He asked.   Now I may  know little about cars but it  was clear he knew nothing about bees (apart from that they stung.)    Yes, I answered.   The hive was empty but no doubt there would have been the odd bee skulking about in it somewhere.    He seemed to lose all enthusiasm for searching the vehicle.   “You’d better get on home, miss.”   I nodded and as I went off, his colleague shouted after me, ‘It’s not safe driving about at this hour of the morning on your own!’    I refrained from observing that I’d met no danger apart from over-enthusiastic policemen.

When my car departed last week, I was surprised to find I felt a little sad.     I have driven and owned cars since I was 19 and regarded driving as one of the great pleasures of the 20th century.   I used to enjoy the power and aggression of John’s mightier cars.   Some spotty boy racer, seeing you were a woman, would rev up to his full power and overtake you.    After a day pushing prams and supervising toddlers, you’d smile to yourself, cause your engine to snarl a little, and leave him in a cloud of dust.

I drove with the children to Antwerp.   John met me at Calais (in his Belgian car.)   On the way I got set upon by some half wit, hater of women, or the British, or both, who kept passing me and then slowing down to near zero right in front of me.   Of course he didn’t know that I was accompanied by an avenging angel, who appeared apparently out of no-where and drove him off the road on to the hard shoulder!

I drove the girlfriends to France.

I once  drove from Strathpeffer to Livingston alone and without stopping and got a migraine as a result.

Men’s interest in cars has always been a subject of incomprehension to me.   Staying as his guest in Oxford after he had left Sussex, I was once talking to Jonathan Roberts about a mutual acquaintance.    ‘Does he drive a (… make of car)?’ asked he, trying to remember the person.   I of course had no idea, and I later related this conversation to John, remarking on how odd it was that someone would remember people by their cars.   “It’s not odd at all,” responded John.   “Anyway, that chap’s car wasn’t a —-;   he drove a —–.   Jonathan was remembering (an entirely different chap); he’s the one who drove the car he was thinking of.’     I retired, astounded, reflecting on the total mystery that is a man’s thinking process.

Someone conducting market research on what kind of car adverts appealed to women once asked Geraldine Lane and me if we would answer some questions.    I’d have declined, but Geraldine agreed before I could do so.  When I heard the subject of the research, I laughed and the man looked at me enquiringly.   “You’re going to be SO disappointed.”    So we gave him the ten minutes.   What cars did we own?   How much input did we have on the choice of the family’s main car?   What features were important to us in a vehicle?   And then, which adverts did we remember?   Yes, we remembered Nicole and Papa.   Yes, we recalled a car driving  through fires.   Yes, we knew the lion went from strength to strength.   Yes, we understood there was a car whose main attraction seemed to be its bottom.   But what WERE those particular cars?   We had NO idea.

So do I know what car we have purchased?   Well, yes I do.   It’s the same as the one we had before but a different colour.    I did notice it was a different colour.  It’s no good asking me any more about it.   That’s all I know.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

4 Responses to DRIVING AWAY

  1. Russ Chaplin says:

    That’s a really nice article. Made me feel nostalgic thinking about all those car adverts from yesteryear. It is impossible not to become attached to a car in some way even if you buy for practical reasons like me. Maybe you will drive again in the future.

  2. Nan says:

    I have owned three cars. A beige coloured Volkswagen Beetle Herbie model with no heating; a dark blue Volvo 340, which was a bit of a tank; AND a red Alfa Romeo 33 with a boxer engine with twin carbs. it was perfection and I loved it. So not many to remember. Steve, on the other hand, can remember all forty cars he has owned.He remembers the marques and models, the colours, their characteristics and what he paid for them! He also owned 28 motorcycles.

    • adhocannie says:

      When John counted his he had 12, and he couldn’t remember the numbers. My mini traveller with its own garden (moss grew on the wooden trim) had a number that was easy to remember EOS 506.

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