Dom Joly: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow


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The Independent Online

I decided against buying a boat in the end. One of the big deciding factors was that I live in Gloucestershire and am about as landlocked as Switzerland. If global warming takes hold and vast swathes of the countryside go underwater then I might reassess my decision.

To tide me over, I bought an old Land Rover – a very old Land Rover. We got really snowed in last year and couldn't go anywhere for two weeks as we live in a deep valley. This year, I'm going to be ready. I Googled "old Land Rover for sale" and started looking at them. I am your dream vehicle purchaser; I know nothing about them, so just look at the photos, check the price and cross my fingers.

I found one I liked the look of in north London and emailed the owner. I tried to sound assertive: "What is your best price?" He emailed back: "The price I advertised it for." I replied: "I was looking to pay a little less than you are asking." Back came his email: "Then you'd better keep looking, I've got two people coming to see it at the weekend and I'll be amazed if the first one doesn't snap it up." Back I came: "I'll take it and come and pick it up tomorrow." I like to play hardball.

I turned up at his house the next day feeling like a drug dealer with the cash in a brown envelope. He showed me the vehicle; it looked good but what the hell did I know? He could have told me that he'd just fitted four new Glandular Princess Sockets and I would have just nodded wisely. It was an old Army vehicle teetering on the edge of battle re-enactment madness.

Every town has a nutter who drives around in an old Army jeep dressed in full combat gear, usually playing loud opera with a dangerous looking dog sat next to him wearing goggles. I'm still just too young to start doing that sort of thing so I wisely declined his kind offer to sell me a can of "Nato Green paint".

I wandered around the vehicle randomly prodding things and trying to look like I was making a serious assessment of the situation. I kicked one of the tyres and really hurt my broken left foot.

I hobbled on, pulling out some camouflage netting from the back. "Is this part of the deal?" I asked trying to look like it was a deal breaker. "No." He replied. I nodded like that was the answer I wanted, and realised that I just wanted to leave now, as I didn't know what I was doing.

The problem was that I had been driven to this man's house and dropped off. The only realistic way to get home was by purchasing the Land Rover. I handed over the envelope of money and took possession of my mid-life crisis.

As I drove gingerly away I tried to look in the vehicle's rear-view mirror to see whether the man was laughing, but the whole thing was shaking so much that everything was just a blurry mess.

When I finally found the A40 I managed to get it up to 70 kilometres an hour until the straps all broke on the canvas roof and it all started to flap about crazily into the lane next to me. I was now fighting for control of something uncontrollable. Other cars started to hoot and the people in them to laugh at me. Several people recognised me and I could see them saying to each other: "Look, there's Dom Joly having a mental breakdown and driving an old Army jeep. I bet he collects Nazi ephemera as well..."

I pulled over at a service station and managed to bring the roof under control. All I had to do now was to get home and start explaining things to Stacey.