Sunday, 10 June 2012

Baby Won’t You Buy My Car? Beep Beep, Yeah!

Buyer: So, what’s the new motor like? 

Me: We haven’t got one.

Buyer: Aye, but you’ll have something in mind.

Me: No. We’ll be fine without.

Buyer: Ah dunno about that, pal. Where is it ye work?

Me: Edinburgh. I cycle in or get the bus.

Buyer: Hmm. I suppose so. The buses are pretty good. And in fact, tell ye what, you could cycle up to the train station and in just a few minutes ye’d be in the middle o’ Edinburgh.

Me: I know. Great, isn’t it?

Buyer: Aye, I suppose so…

From sceptic to believer in the space of 30 seconds. Life without a car is possible! Who was I converting? The bloke who bought our car. Not the best sales patter I admit. But anyway, we’re now car-less and that‘s what counts.

You have no idea what a relief it is. I don’t have to give myself an ulcer fretting if the Musselburgh equivalent of the Arkansas Chuggabug will pass its MOT next month. Nor do I have to fork out for insurance, car tax, parking tickets, petrol (£70 a tank these days) and ongoing maintenance.

By contrast I gave my commuting bike its MOT this weekend. It simply involved a clean of the chain, some lubrication and an adjustment of the gear shift mechanism. I think I bought that bike for about £200 - thirteen years ago. What an excellent investment.

How has Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed taken the news that the car has gone? Well, we haven’t really told her. Apparently she’s mentioned once in the fortnight since it was sold that she wanted to go somewhere in it. But let’s face it - strapped into a seat watching the world whiz by isn’t exactly a dream come true, is it? But you can guarantee a beaming smile on her face if you chase after her through a field, bounce her silly on a see-saw in a park or tell her we’re going on the Number 26 bus to buy some fish.

I’ve always found driving stressful and expensive - the opposite of its image as fun and liberating. Marketing people (The Spawn of Satan to quote Bill Hicks) insist on adverts showing cars as toys for grown ups. In reality they suck you into mind-numbing traffic jams and bleed your wallet dry.

I occasionally get nostalgic about cars. Memories of trips to Eyemouth in my Papa’s Talbot are often evoked whenever I smell fish and chips. The Rialto fish bar in the Berwickshire town is definitely worth the drive.

I doubt we would have remained sane if we’d tried bringing up a baby without a motor. Maybe in a big city we’d have given it a go but in the Highlands if you’re outwith Inverness it must be daunting raising a wee person while relying on public transport.

You've heard of cars having metallic paint.
How about metallic upholstery?
Clearing out our reliable family vehicle before selling it was an eye opener. I once gave a colleague a lift and upon entering our car he asked exactly how many offspring I had. Who knew one kid would generate so much mess? During my half-hearted attempt at showroom valeting I turned up numerous half eaten biscuits along with a selection of stickers and grain after grain of sand.

But my abiding thought? Good luck to the new owner getting that glitter out of the real footwells. Goodness knows I tried.

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