I was checking my Citroën C6 in for a service the other day, and the guy in the dealers was going through my details on his computer. I'd previously taken it to the same place to have a tyre changed, and when he got to the bit where it gave my address, he said: "According to this, you live here in the dealership."
I thought perhaps he was inviting me to come and live in the showroom, so I said: "Well, I don't know really. On the upside, there'll always be somebody around to talk to during the day, and I do get lonely sometimes, but the diet wouldn't be very good, I assume I'd have to get all my food from vending machines, and also, how would I get in or out after the dealership is closed? If I went to the theatre or a nightclub, I'd have to sleep on the step until the first people came in in the morning to open up, unless one of you people waited for me or I could get a set of keys. If I didn't go out, where would I sleep? Something like a C4 Picasso would probably be best, but even so I can't imagine it would be that comfortable. And if it got cold, would I have to run the engine to keep warm? And then the showroom would fill with fumes and I could die of carbon monoxide poisoning. So thanks for the offer, mate, but I think I'll stay in my house if you don't mind."
It turned out that because my vehicle is a Citroën press car, that's why it was registered as being from the dealers' address, and he wasn't inviting me to come and live with them after all.
I do really want to spend more time in my house, though, because I've been up in Liverpool for the last three months making a documentary series and I've been staying in a hotel. I find filming and staying away from home very tiring. Honestly, I look as if my series is called How to Look Ten Years Older.
One of the things that's exhausting about making a documentary series is the intensity of the experiences you have. One minute you're in the middle of the Mersey on a pilot boat, and the next you're messing with snakes at the School of Tropical Medicine.
One of the visits I found most unsettling was the trip to the Jaguar/Land Rover factory at Halewood. I've already written about how the experience of being confined in a factory again disturbed me. It was partly the sense of being confined at the whim of somebody else, but there was more.
In trying to chat in a jocular fashion to the workforce, it came back to me very forcefully how bad I was at mixing with normal people. Even now I don't do normal very well – and when I was young I was a much odder person. I suddenly understood that there were good psychological reasons why my preferred method of interacting with the ordinary citizen came to be me on a stage in a big spotlight shouting at them through a giant 20kW PA system while they were pinioned in rows of seats.
In addition, there was something about the manufacturing process of the cars themselves that I found disconcerting. To see a Freelander 2 being formed from bits of sheet metal on the production line was impressive, but it was also a bit like a magician showing you how he does his tricks – to me, it had the same disillusioning effect. I found myself thinking that we invest so much in motor vehicles – we rank ourselves with them; we write about them in ridiculous detail; when we buy them, for a week or two they make us happier than anything else possibly can; we fall in and out of love with them; we are invading other countries and destroying the planet to keep them fed – and yet, ultimately, they are just bits of metal and plastic put together in south Liverpool by a Scouser in a green boiler-suit. It's a bit depressing, really.Reuse content