Last Saturday I switched on the television. It was showing Strictly Come Dancing. I switched it off. My goodness, when the BBC get an idea (even a revamped one dragged high-kicking from the black & white days) they certainly wring every last drop of blood out of it, don’t they: but it did get me thinking about cars.
It seems to me that over the generations nothing much changes when it comes to the male relationship with cars and life in general. Welcome then to the Four Driving Ages Of Man:
You’ve just purchased your first car. It will be a cheap pile of junk but you will love it (See knackered Citroen Saxo with glitzy after-market rear light clusters). You will likely have your first, all to brief, sexual encounter in it to the sound of truly MASSIVE speakers banging out repetitive music loud enough to make your ears bleed. Your annual insurance premium is far in excess of the car’s worth but that is what your parents are for. But it’s worth it to them as it keeps you away from the family people carrier (see below).
Two: Disco Inferno
Burn, baby, burn. You’ve got cash on the hip and a hip motor (See any era Golf GTi or similar; the low hip-point car comes later). You’re out clubbing most nights and spending a lot of time trying to evade the steely-eyed attentions of Old Bill.
You are living the dream but beware; it is just at this stage that Shaz from Accounts starts taking more than a passing interest in you. You don’t immediately realise it but you, son, are going down.
Three: Strictly Ballroom
You now have a spouse (Sharon. She prefers to be known as Sharon these days) and two-point-four children who vomit consistently and spectacularly on your car’s upholstery (See any people carrier which crucially must score points for dullness and mediocrity). Economy is your watchword. ‘Please don’t keep doing that’, is your mantra. Shaz – sorry Sharon – starts taking more than a passing interest in conservatories. You think it is the end of road; that your life of fun and frivolity is gone for good, which of course it is. The bad news is though that just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do.
Four: The Dad Shuffle
This is the fourth and final age. The age at which you are required to wholly embarrass your by now almost grown-up children with mortifying exhibitions of Dad Dancing at all weddings and similar gatherings usually and inevitably when totally bladdered.
Sharon will not speak to you for three days thereafter because, once again, she has had to drive home (See Toyota Auris or Nissan Note. Or Jazz). She will be seen talking quietly to a solicitor at a tea-room near your house. She won’t go through with it of course but you will spend much of your time in a sort of perpetual limbo of servitude and apology for basically being a prat.
In a last desperate act you treat yourself to a new car that is fast and sporty (M3 etc) but not too near the ground (not after that ignominious exit from a Lotus Elise) and, do you know what, it works! That old adrenaline rush is still there having been dormant for years. It’s the alternative little blue pill and it perks you up no end – if you know what I mean – and a startled Sharon looks at you in a new and improved light. It’s going to be okay. You’re still the Daddy. You’re a car guy.
P.S. This is a work of fiction. I want to make that absolutely clear. Insert era, cars and spouse to suit. For fairness and impartiality, The Four (Driving) Ages Of Woman will follow in due course because someone else will have to write it.