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Goodbye, Old Banger
January/February 2015


The Tesla Roadster: "It drives like a dolphin swims" (photo: Tesla Motors Inc.)

I need to sell my beloved car, Audrey. She is ten years old and has taken to raining in on me through her perforations. She makes a hoarse sound when she moves off — mind you, most days so do I — and after countless bangs from slumbering policemen, let us not even mention her underneaths. Technically, more prang than vorsprang.

Still, she has had only one lady owner, done 40,000 miles and looks fashionably gorgeous in nifty shades of grey and russet. There are folk out there who, if they don't examine her scar tissue too closely, or pay too much attention to her embarrassing seepage, would kill to own her.

I shouldn't at my age be sporting a sports car. Having a two-door convertible was the consolation prize I gave myself after bereavement. If that sounds shallow, then so be it. I needed a reason to leave the house. Sixty-eight may be the new 57 but the variety has gone out of fixing a safety-belt around a grandchild  with my bottom sticking out of the driver's door and my body twisted 45 degrees to the left, especially now that the toddler police have decreed that the car seat shall face the back window.  She can't see me, I can't see her. We can't sing "Does your chewing gum lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?" in the mirror and I can't hand her all the stuff she's not supposed to eat. Call that health and safety?

Furthermore, sometimes, I give a lift home to friends and I can't get them out of the back seat. Like the last sardine in the can, they get one bit out and the other bit in and they're wedged in with all their weight under the lid.

I say, "Just turn your back on your door and get your back leg out onto the pavement."

And they retort, "What on earth do you mean, my back leg? I'm not a dog."

"No, I know," I murmur (otherwise you'd jump over the top of the seat). "I just mean — look, it's easier to lever yourself out backwards than it is to sort of fall forwards."

"I'm not drunk. I'm just trying to extricate myself from your ruddy car!"

So  Audrey must go — and I have to give up my jaunty, super-gran-about-town image and buy a nice four-door runaround. Frankly, it's just like my election dilemma — if not Audrey, then who?

My partner has a reliable car. We were once driving around Marble Arch on a Saturday when he strayed slightly — I have to say slightly because he may read this one day — and a ferocious little man drove up to the passenger seat and wound down his window. Expecting a friendly comment regarding my last appearance on Countdown or an observation about how I hadn't aged one iota since Up the Junction, I wound down my own window and smiled.

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