Every year, some bright spark announces that Britain is Europe's second-biggest market for convertible cars. And every year we are all surprised about it. Why? It's just not that surprising.
If you live in Spain, Italy, Southern France, anywhere in Europe but here, getting up to greet a dawn sky as free of stains as a newly boiled bed sheet is simply not something worthy of note. Sunny days are just days over there. The sun comes out every morning with the dependability of a scholar's reading light going on at night.
In this country, the moment the great Sun god pokes its face from behind a cloud, it is forced to look down upon us prostrating our mostly pale, white bodies in parks and gardens, desperate to be the first to singe our hide to a lobster red. To the Brit, therefore, the convertible car offers another opportunity to proffer our pinkening flesh to the sun.
Equally unsurprising is the naked aggression that convertible cars engender in everyone not actually sitting in one on a sunny day in Britain. This week's sunny spell brought every single soft-top out of the garage to be paraded and enjoyed.
Sad then, that their proud owners were greeted by solemn-faced miseries eager to condemn them as show-offs and poseurs. The convertible driver is a happy optimist, who believes that one day the sun will shine and they will be able to enjoy it and be happy.
What is wrong with that? Far from being despised, the ragtop pilot should be applauded. But such child-like optimism is entirely un-British and not something with which we will ever feel truly comfortable.
There is, though, a very British form of open-top motorist and to observe them we must turn to the Morgan. The Morgan is driven by those who believe that the hood is not something to be optionally dropped, weather permitting, but something to be occasionally raised, weather necessitating.
The Morgan is provided with a small canvas affair to be raised only in the event of hailstones as big as fists or rain you can't breathe through, a roof to be used rarely and in case of dire need.
I have tried a Morgan. I drove one from the Malvern factory to Germany and back recently. I had always questioned their uncomfortable approach to motoring.
But, returning home, my face worn to the leathery texture of a hardened mariner's by windblast, I finally got it and savoured every second. Discomfort is at the heart of most of our favourite national pastimes. With, perhaps, the exception of Morris dancing, we are a nation that prefers our pleasure garnished with a little necessary discomfort.
We seek the warm glow and deeper joy that comes from pressing on and coming through. Perhaps then, we shouldn't condemn the ordinary cabriolet driver, but pity them for their foolish grins, their wildly optimistic outlook and their ruffled hair because we know that come winter time, the nation's glistening country lanes, damp hedgerows and softly-dripping, tree-lined avenues will be visited by their tougher, hardier cousin; the Morgan driver with their properly British approach to an otherwise rather Continental pursuit.Reuse content