'I'm really terribly sorry,' said the lady - she seemed quite nice, actually. 'Thank God your wife isn't hurt.'
'Never mind her]' screamed my father. 'What about the car?'
My mother, obviously resigned to the effect a man's car can have on him, didn't seem remotely fazed by this. Years later, when challenged by a friend to ask my father who or which he liked better, her or the car, she graciously declined. After all, the car had, by now, become a fully fledged person (called Benny).
In the past few weeks my life has been dominated, not to say destroyed, by the fact that my own dear love has been trying to buy a second-hand car.
He wanted a classic Ford Capri (don't ask me why). He kept telling me it would look like a Mustang (don't ask me what that is). He muttered things about Capris being cool, slick, stylish, a symbol of living on the edge.
Every day, he bought the classified ads papers. He took the week off and each morning set off for some God-forsaken corner of Essex or Surrey or Kent - places where Capris probably are still cool.
'How was it?' I asked when he came home after seeing the 14th one.
'It was great. It was a bit old, you know, knackered. Vintage really. It was yellow.'
What else was there to say?
Then last Friday, he rang me, all breathless and excited (I love it when he gets like that) from somewhere in N17.
'I've just seen one. It's fantastic. It's the dog's'
The dog's? But how would its feet reach the pedals?
'You know,' he said. 'It's the dog's. The dog's bollocks.'
So, really good then.
'I don't know whether to buy it, though. It's a bit too new-looking.'
I offered to kick it for him if he liked. Tip rubbish over it. At which point, he hung up.
Later, he told me that the man who was selling it was a mechanic. It was his wife's car and he'd looked after it as if his life depended on it. Otherwise she gave him 'loads of ag'.
The following morning, at some ungodly hour, he went to look at it again. And again the next. Each time with a different friend. I suspect the same person couldn't stand it twice. If he carried on like this, he'd end up with an entire committee.
Then, he bought it.
'How great is that?' he said, beaming at the car proudly when he got it home. He never looks at me in that tender, misty-eyed way.
I thought it was very pretty, actually.
'Pretty] It's not pretty] It's rugged. It's ruthless. It's sleek, mean . . . mysterious. It's like Jim Rockford's Camaro.'
It looked like a drug dealer's car to me.
He insisted on going for a spin. A long spin.
'Aaaah, the open road. Listen to that engine growling.'
I was beginning to realise
that buying a car called for a whole new vocabulary, full of strange dog imagery and weird abbreviations.
My boyfriend, meanwhile, toyed with potential names. The Dark Destroyer. The Shadow. The Grim Reaper. His car, in case you haven't noticed, is black.
As we drove past his best friend's house for the third time, he suddenly said: 'Push that down. That knob. Quickly.' Terrific, a musical airhorn. Very sleek, mean and mysterious.
Finally, we made it home. Not before fiddling with the locks for several hours, however. He's gone mad on security. He's got the dog's doorlocks.
Three days later, he's still beside himself. I'm trying not to let it upset me. I'm a bit embarrassed, though, and my role as chief musical airhorn operator is, frankly, wearing rather thin. I suppose I'll get used to it, but if you ever notice us driving around, for pity's sake, don't ask him who he likes best.
Miles Kington is on holiday.Reuse content