And here it is, all gleaming clean and ready to move on to its new and second owner.
I have to admit that after driving it from new for the last 14 years, I’m going to miss it quite a lot. It’s been a friendly little car and it’s driven me comfortably to more places than I can count or remember. In the first half of our life together we went shopping at least once every week and considerably more as Christmas approached, visited the various members of my large and enlarging family, headed off to church every Sunday and to the theatre whenever I fancied it. We visited friends wherever they were, met guests at the station and took them back again when their visit was over, attended a variety of literary events – often with a boot full of books – and drove up to see my sister at happily regular intervals. It was a dear little dependable car.
But now I have to face the facts of an elderly life, and accept that as I’m 89 – pushing 90 – and have only one dependably functioning eye. it would be too dangerous for me to drive any more. Boo-hoo. So last Friday, I sold my old friend to a young mechanic who is going to get it in perfect working order and give it to his niece as a Christmas present. He told my daughter and I how excited she was about it and that was cheering, despite the need to say farewell. It’s transported a lot of Christmas presents in its time and now it’s going to be a Christmas gift in its own right. I hope its new young owner will enjoy driving it as much as I have.
But of course, there’s a dilemma here and I know that very well. For the past few years thee has been a growing campaign to alert drivers to the ecological harm their vehicles are doing. There have been far too many cars and lorries on the roads, far too many aircraft making con trails in our skies, far too many luxury cruisers spreading pollution through our oceans and into our ports. When lock-down reduced the number of vehicles on our roads, and grounded our aircraft, the benefits were obvious. We rejoiced at the improved purity of the air we were breathing and were delighted to be able to hear the birds singing again. And yet, and yet… I have to be honest and say that when I had a heart attack was taken to hospital, efficiently and quickly in an ambulance, I was grateful and relieved to be helped so quickly. But seeing both sides of the argument doesn’t give me any insight into the solution we need to the problem. I was fond of my little car and used it selfishly. I was glad to be rescued by ambulance. Mea culpa.
What’s the answer? I don’t know. Can we find a balance? I don’t know that either.