In a couple of days I return to the UK and am due to pick up my car from my magician of a mechanic who's had it in for its annual MOT (UK vehicle safety and roadworthiness check). I am due to pick it up but, just the same as every year, I am not entirely confident that it will have passed and that I'll be able to. When I dropped it off he lowered his voice (to the tone reserved for use by concerned vets who don't want the family pet to overhear that it might not have much time left) and said that my run-of-the-mill mundane silver estate car (which has getting on for 250,000 former sales-rep miles on the clock) has served me well and added, "There's a similar car for sale over the road. I'm only saying, just in case..."
For as long as I've been able to drive and afford to run a car I've placed a whole heap of other things higher on the list of what to spend my money on than my vehicle (see this former post). Actually getting to the beach has always been far more important than what I get to the beach in, and thus over the last 12 years or so I have owned a succession of loveable bangers or functional wagons, each with their own stories to tell. Every year I am still however, without fail, slightly surprised when my car fails its test and needs work doing and money spending on it. I really shouldn't be. And, every time that I need to consign an old four-wheeled friend to the scrap-heap and search out a new set of wheels, I always end up spending the bare minimum on another barely functioning motor car. But one day - one day - I'll get my act together and hunt down an old car that comes pre-loaded with stories; a vehicle older than I am with a front-end like a smiling face and an interior that smells like an antique shop. I adore cars with character. I've no doubt that if I ever manage to do this I will be lumbered with an absolute heap that costs an inordinate amount to fill up with fuel, that I can't drive in the rain, is impossible to source parts for and that I won't be able to transport surfboards in. But I'll love it all the same because if you're going to spend some time broken down by the side of the road anyway, then you might as well do so with some small degree of style stood next to a beautiful machine.