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The Thing About

11/08/2017 12:58
Todd Arena via Getty Images

The thing about buying a car is, you've really got to, 'have the horn for it'.

That's what my ex husband used to say.

"But they're so expensive," I'd complain.

"You just don't understand."

But one day a very strange thing happened. A couple arrived at the holiday cottage next door, in something that I had never seen before.

A thing of beauty.

No, I thought, surely not.

"A 1954 Mercedes Benz Gull-Wing." My ex told me over supper and noticing my glassy eyed look he laughed.

"You liked it, didn't you?" I blushed.

"Imagine yourself in it, did you?"

I blushed even more as I imagined myself in the Gull-wing, driving down the Kings Road, the open road, any road with Idris Elba at my side.

Gotta have the horn for it. And he should know, he's been through the lot. And when he sets his sights on a particular one, a turbo this or super charged that, he gives it everything. The full throttle search.

However, my ex husband's love affairs were short lived. No sooner had the longed for car arrived and he'd be eyeing the next one.

It was the Ferrari that I hated the most.

"Is that why you didn't sleep last night?" I said the day it was delivered. But he wasn't listening to me. I had ceased to exist. As they backed it onto the driveway I could see him become breathless. His eyes fixed and dilated.

Never has car been more suited to that particular shade of red. Never a car more aptly named nor so brash, flash and so fucking wide that he couldn't even get it into the garage.
But its demise was only a short drive down the windy country lanes. It was so flash and brash, so loud and in your face expensive, so disgustingly over the top, against all the rules of nature sounding, that one day it growled around a bend and out of a hedge leapt a magnificent stag.

A twelve pointed 'Pride of Exmoor' stag and it landed right on the bonnet of my ex husband's pride and joy.

The stag jumped down without a scratch. But I swear, I truly believe, that as he majestically leapt over the other side of the bank he looked back at us with eyes that said, "A Ferrari? A Testarossa? Really?"

"Well that's fucked it." My ex said inspecting the damage.

So, no more stupid, expensive, sports cars. I said. No more showrooms and salesmen. I told him. Especially when selling them is always a disaster. The minute you drive it out the showroom, that Porsche, Ferrari, 4x4, Gti, Tdi, four door, five door, two seater, six seater, fuck me on the back seats and no room for the child seats is pretty worthless.

So, as much as my ex loved the chase of the new car he hated trying to sell them.

There came a time when we needed to change my modest car but it was down to me to sell it.

"I'll put an advert in the local paper" I said.

I pitched the price lower than everyone else. We were inundated. I had to decide which of the buyers to sell it to. It was a nice feeling. I was a little 'tinker bell car fairy?'

A "do a good deed car-dealer."

In the end I went for the retired couple who reminded me of my grandparents. He was ex army and she was an ex nurse.

"Oh, that really is good news." Said the wife and we arranged a delivery date.

I asked my ex to come with me.

"But I don't want to get involved with this." He moaned. "You know I don't really like old people."

Eventually, he guiltily accompanied me to their pretty retirement cottage. On the way there, I imagined them tootling along the coast road enjoying their long awaited retirement. Visiting the
grandchildren, beach walks, tea gardens and parked up by the Valley of the Rocks with a picnic and their little Jack Russell.

The wife was waiting but, she didn't look as excited as my husband on car delivery day.

"Here." She said, nervously thrusting the bankers draft into my hand.

"Is everything ok? Have you changed your mind? It's ok if you have." I said, worried that I had in some way bullied them into their new purchase.

"Oh! No! Definitely not. My daughter collected our old car last night. I haven't changed my mind at all. It's all worked out perfectly, but..."

My ex and I held our breath.

"But, I can't drive an automatic. Will you show me?"

We were just climbing into the car when another car arrived. A black one. A large, long, black one.

"Oh." She said getting out of the driver's side. "Just a minute."

My husband and I looked at the car.

"Is that?" I whispered.

"I fucking hope not." He said holding his head in his hands.

"Sorry about that. They were supposed to come this morning." She said buckling her seatbelt.

"Fit as a fiddle. Never had a day off in his life. Ran five miles a day. Up at six, every day."

"But not today?" I tentatively asked.

"No." she said, adjusting the rear view mirror. "Not today."

And as I watched the undertakers wheel the body out of the house, I explained how to use the automatic gears. I slowly and patiently explained. She understood. I showed her how the radio worked, what all the various symbols meant, what all the different knobs and dials did and why.

Please god. I thought.

Please god, don't ask me where the horn is.

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