Monday, 15 August 2011

Some Of My Best Friends Like Cars

Hopefully there are no photos to prove I did it. I’d be summoned to Greenie HQ for a "meeting without coffee". Did what? Ah, well, you see… At the weekend I drove to a vintage car rally. That’s right. Gasp! Drove. Gasp! To look at cars. One reader at the back has spilt his peppermint tea in shock.

I should have cycled to it and let down some tyres but you see I actually quite like old cars. I love the idea of motoring about for leisure with a gazetteer in the glove box and picnic hamper and flask in the boot with a tartan travel rug and tin of powdery sweets on the back seat.

Also, old cars are solid beasts with style. Yup - on the surface I appear to be Tom Good but scratch the surface and there’s a bit of Jerry Leadbetter.

The car created so much freedom back in the day - it’s understandable we want to hang onto it. But as a Greenie I very much view motoring as a luxury, like other novelty pursuits and eccentric passions such as collecting 45rpm records, going to Vue cinema and taking the Daily Mail seriously.

After oohing and aahing at the Austins, Rolls Royces, M-Gs and Ford Cortinas (vintage?) in the driveway of Brodie Castle and avoiding the numerous burger and deep fried donut stalls we repaired with Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed to a local cake emporium for a sweet treat.

It’s right next to an old railway station on the Inverness-Aberdeen line. My car-loving buddies who were with us seemed a bit unsure of my enthusiasm that it would be great to see such stations open again. Some motor-mad folk I know simply can’t comprehend getting the train as any kind of freedom. They seem to think sitting in traffic, paying a fortune for petrol and polluting the air is a much better deal.

It did make me wonder if somewhere amid the many layers of bureaucracy in government if someone has at least had a go at a set of ballpark figures - how much it would cost to reopen some of the stations and lines that fell victim to Beeching and weigh that cost against the environmental, road safety, air quality, oil supply, health, happiness and employment benefits to the nation. Proof of the success of reopening old stations and lines was aired earlier this year on the BBC by Douglas Fraser.

Just think. You could indulge a guilty pleasure with a bit less guilt by arriving by train.

Even better - the vintage cars could be run on the used cooking oil from all the burger and donut stalls!

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