Unlike most people in the entertainment business, I am not interested in getting my hands on "freebies". It always amazes and disgusts me how at the end of awards ceremonies you can see wealthy celebrities fighting each other, sometimes with knives, just to get their greedy paws on a free goody bag that contains a packet of balloons, a pencil and a copy of Exchange & Mart from 1987. Admittedly, this obsessive honesty of mine does lead me to make mistakes. For a while, there has been a media war going on in London where people are paid to hand out free copies of rival newspapers. I was unaware of this so each time somebody in a purple jacket tried to thrust a paper in my hand I thought they were trying to bribe me and I would give them a long and impassioned speech about how my soul wasn't for sale to Rupert Murdoch or Associated Newspapers for the price of a free paper.
Granted, for the past four months I have been in possession of a great free car - a Citroën C6 - but I don't see this as a freebie; rather it is part of my career as a motoring journalist that I get to spend a long time with a new vehicle, to assess the qualities and faults that might not appear over a shorter period of ownership.
Even so, perhaps there is some sort of karma operating because the C6 has not been a lucky car for me. First off, I got my first-ever speeding conviction while driving it in November. Then on 21 December I noticed a small hole had been punched in the window behind the C pillar. I called Citroën and they very helpfully came and took it away for repair, and left me with a lovely looking, brand-new C4 Picasso, which I left parked outside my house. Watching TV that night, I heard a boom and looked out to see that two kids on bikes had smashed the rear window of the C4, so that had to be taken away on a truck without me ever having driven it. The C6 came back on the 22nd with the window repaired and I kept it garaged until I drove up to my mother's on Christmas Eve. As my friend Robert said, it's a sad commentary on the state of law and order in central London when you're forced to take your car up to Liverpool for security reasons!
At first my mind was full of thoughts of revenge, in that I would track down the little mopes who'd damaged my cars and mess them up good-style, but then I realised that it is precisely such notions of vengefulness that keeps the world locked into its cycle of violence and retribution. No, I had to find a better way to deal with my rage, which meant forgiveness. First of all, I had to practise "decisional forgiveness", to decide to let go of my anger and say "I forgive you", then I could move on to the second stage, "emotional forgiveness", where true healing begins. Later on I thought I might do voluntary work with disadvantaged youth in the neighbourhood. But then it occurred to me that the cars didn't belong to me at all, they belonged to Citroën UK. And since they were the ones who'd been harmed, they were going to have to go through all that forgiveness and I could stick with my feelings of bitterness and self-pity, which frankly was a huge relief.Reuse content