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Friday 8th February 2013
I bought my first car twelve years ago and I've had it ever since. It's been pretty reliable and got me where I've wanted to go and hardly ever broken down. I've had a few low speed crunches, including a very minor one this morning when I got out of the car to try to clean the ice off the wing mirror (as my window was frozen shut) forgetting that I had put the put the car in reverse. I had had to get up early and wasn't totally with it. The car drifted slowly backwards and bumped the car behind. I quickly got back in and pulled away. The car behind was undamaged (luckily) though my bumper had a new tiny crack in it. But that doesn't count as my fault as I wasn't even in the car at the time.
It's still running fine, but a car is a very important part of my business and it's important that I have a vehicle I can rely on to get me to gigs and then to get me home afterwards, so I think it's time to trade the battle-scarred old thing in for something a bit newer, so this afternoon I headed to the showroom to see what was one offer and how much this was going to set me back.
I am not a car nut. The antics of Clarkson and Hammond leave me a bit cold. I don't see a car as something I can fetishize or fuck. I just want something that will get me to where I am going which maybe has a radio and some kind of blue-tooth device for phone calls. This is slightly weird as I love all my other gadgets, but I am not interested or knowledgeable about makes of car or engine types or alloy wheels. I like my VW Golf and will probably get another one of those (though I had considered buying a people carrier which would be useful for when I am on tour and have lots of stuff to carry and want to work whilst someone else drives, but I realised that I wouldn't be able to cope with that as my day to day car). In many ways this makes me a delightful prospect for someone who is trying to sell me a car. They can bamboozle me and tell me anything they want and I will believe them. And yet maybe I am less impressed with the showy extras that other car mad people might be orgasming over.
Having said all that there is something quite exciting about looking at a new car in a showroom and from my brief look over it the new VW 7 is a very pretty car. I couldn't work out how to open the boot though, and I wasn't going to ask and look like an idiot (there'd be plenty of time for that) so I pretended that I didn't want to look. The salesman who first approached me asked me about my moustache. He had recognised me. I couldn't work out if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Would he give me a good deal or think I was loaded with extra cash because he'd recently heard me on Radio 4 (though my fee for that wouldn't pay for a VW Golf cup holder).
Luckily he was gentle with me (to begin with at least) as he recognised that I was just looking for now. He gave me some brochures, showed me some of the used cars, told me how much my old car was worth to him (about three cupholders) and advised me to come back for a test drive next week. I've been driving an automatic for over a decade, apart from a slightly hairy couple of days when I was filming You Can Choose Your Friends (which did not increase my confidence) and so I am not sure about my next manual driving experience being a test drive. But I think I am going to buy a manual car so I'll have to get back into understanding hill starts soon.
In the end I was quite excited by the prospect of a new car, though a little sad as I had always assumed I would die in my first one.
Things have moved on in car technology in the last decade and I can now opt for parking sensors (I don't know if those still work if you've stepped out of the car) and some Knight Rider style device which ensures that the car will always stay a certain distance behind the car in front (which seems designed to make drivers test if it's working by trying to drive into the vehicle ahead), which would have saved me from my near accident on the last tour.
But I've set all this in motion now. I am planning on being unfaithful to my own and only car after 12 years of marriage, with only a few previous flirtations with whore cars that I rented out for the day occasionally or actress cars that I stuck with only for the duration of the shoot. I wonder who will end up with my old car. I wonder where my new one will take me. I wonder how much money the car salesman will manage to extract from my bank account. I wonder how long it will take me to put a big dent in the new car.
The latest Metro column is here.
The Talking Cock tour starts in two weeks. Please spread the news and Buy your tickets now (Reading and Fareham already sold out, many others well on the way. Think you'll be OK to buy tickets for York on the day though!)
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