Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Funny Old Cars

I have to admit I'm a bit of a car fan. If I had my way and loadsa dosh I would drive what is currently embellishing my computer 'bureau', an Aston Martin Vanquish. Actually, I don't know if this is true because it does strike me as a pretty masculine car and I have a feeling it might actually take off, dragging me desperately along behind it!

A more feminine car was the old Triumph Stag, and I would have given my eyeteeth for a Jensen Interceptor too. Nowadays, cars are much chunkier, and the top of the range models are so much like cocoons that one wonders how the pleasure of driving has evolved over the years. We are much less involved with the road and 'outside' now. One exception is my Saab convertible whose doors are a bit off, and when it absolutely pisses down with rain, one can enjoy all the excitement of what is happening outside, inside...

'My' Saab for not much longer. It is being passed along, and I have acquired a car-in-waiting. Waiting for what? Waiting until I can find an affordable Peugeot 406 Estate, preferably metallic BRG in colour with a cream interior. In the meantime, I am driving a Peugeot 405 Estate, from 1992, white.

To be honest, it is a bit of a comedown from the Saab. Let's face it, I do not feel the same driving it as I do the Saab. The Saab makes you feel good - it is a credible car; a little eccentric, and definitely stylish. I even get little waves from other Saab convertible drivers, and as mine is the only one of its type in the area, everyone who knows me, knows it's me.

With the Peugeot, however, I am now entering the murky waters of anonymity, like White Van Man. I could do all measure of wicked things, such as drive around with less than 8Euros on me (= tramp. This is true - French law forbids you being out and about with no money, and you can be fined for tramp-ism) and would never be noticed. The Peugeot is a car so ordinary, people don't notice it as it drives along, and pedestrians are constantly being run over for not having realised it was there. I very much doubt anyone will wave at me now, and I will be consigned to invisibility.

On the bright side, however, it is a very comfy car, designed as it is, to make the French roads of the time seem the epitome of all that is smooth; flawless; as silk. It is also roomy which is a wonderful advantage, as anyone who has tried to move house without hiring movers will tell you. Previous roomy cars have been used to transport tiles for the new house, bikes, an entire year's worth of university living, garden rubbish and so on. The Americans believe that every family should own a truck. Here, we are a little more economical, and go for an estate.

It is also incredibly full of windows, and visibility is marvellous. Anyone who has driven a Saab convertible will appreciate the value of being able to reverse without relying solely on memory.

I am, however, wondering if I should dress according to my new car-related circumstances. I feel I should be in jeans and pullovers with a scruffy jacket and boots to be really at ease in the car. I tend to wear Saab-suitable clothes and I'm not sure that people will believe me if I maintain my wardrobe.

I will have to keep you posted on reactions to the Saab-suitably dressed me and my Funny Old Car.

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