Sunday Column: Peter Griffiths – Time

It is difficult to express in words the feeling of having suddenly found a routine to settle into. A routine which could last for many years in terms of having found a job which will challenge me to grow up properly, pay attention, and concentrate hard because it is what I want to do. The years ahead seem to stretch out in front as the grey ribbon to which so many racing drivers refer. That zone they experience when they get into the comfortable zone on a higher plain of concentration compared to driving through town to a car park. In the zone you’ll find that time slows to a crawl but shoots past quickly and that you look back and find that you actually did get up to a lot of exciting things.

Have you noticed how years pass as days, decades pass as minutes, weekends take aeons to arrive, and deadlines loom and pass whether you hit them or not? I believe Pink Floyd said it best when they blessed us with the tune to which I pay small tribute in the title of this piece. We plan our holidays ahead in detail, we’ve just put a deposit down on two holidays for next year already, and we want to make the most of the weekends which are brilliantly regular.

Since having worked for three years at an inhuman place which took over your life I want to make the most of this glorious amount of time I now have. So I worry about missing out on something because there is so much going on surrounding passions and interests which would turn me grey if that process wasn’t already highly advanced for other reasons. Wait – no – worry is the only reason.

Now, revelations – they don’t come along too often – but this one was a cracker and it was a much welcome relief and that is the realisation that letting go of the worry (which would cripple me if I were not aware of it) is absolutely crucial.

Life has worriers and doers, fuzzy and sharp brains, men and women who, while each annoys the heckins out of the other, would not be able to function without the other for many boring reasons. My beautiful wife is a morning person and I am not. She loves pop trash in print, sound, and cinematic form and I do not love it (only small bits of each). She loves hot and boring holidays where I love interestingly cold and active ones. She is not a worrier and I am a big stupid worrier.

After one year of marriage which has legally capped off a relationship which reaches back to the previous century we are settled into the grey ribbon as far as can be, short of major disaster. This is obviously great and we are both making the most of it but there is a sort of finality to it. After a chaotic Naughties in terms of locations, jobs, education, health and varying fortune, we have settled into the Tens and landed with a bump into the routine of living together. It was definitely a bump; strap yourselves in to the roller-coaster of marriage!

What we have agreed is that we do not want to get bored so we’ve done things about that, but routines have still appeared just in different time-scales. Being a racing driver has already been ruled out, purely on financial grounds you understand; otherwise I’d be chasing Vettel down. Or Matt Neal. The other path is to consider just going all out and getting a different car every year or so depending on whether it’s any good or how expensive it is to keep rolling. Imagine the possibilities! A big old 1980’s Mercedes SEC 500 just flashed past my inner eyes. The Triumph Acclaim on BMW Mini wheels which I met mid-week was annoyingly appealing.

When you’re lusting another car for the fleet, build quality tends to get forgotten.

Surely the variety of such a life of buying cars would satisfy? There is a mine of information to go through, the even more interesting secrets and tricks to their ownership. These two in combination with pursuing the ability to expertly modify each one as it passes through ones hands to pass to the next and preserve for the future generations who have been mentioned here before definitely appeals.

The only barrier to this way of motoring, for me, is my love of the E30 (excluding chrome and cabriolets) and my pledge to always have one in my life. I wish to remain loyal to BMW but fear I may not be able to afford a second car to mess around with at the moment. Many people out there can afford more than one car on their drive, more than one brand-new car, and those people just don’t care about cars. How is that fair?

The BMW E30 Touring love remains

There is at least one website and forum dedicated to each and every vehicle ever made to date, and some that haven’t been made, with so many enthusiastic people out there willing to swap and change parts, offer ideas on styling and open to your own interpretations of what looks good or not. Imagine what you don’t know about the Bristol 411, or the Saab 96! This is near-senseless name-dropping of course but you love it because it is not possible to pin down what one car you would be happy to own forever if there was no question of reliability. This question was posed by one Twitterer and I’ve still not decided. Probably some sort of Lancia Fulvia.

Perhaps a five-year plan might be in order, one hears they are quite popular and work quite well. This way deals with the student debts nicely, and I’m not talking about the loan, it’s the credit cards one gets carried away with and then fail to deal with for five years! That way frees up so much more extra cash and, if living within ones means can be kept in check, that means I can go out and buy a Sunbeam, or a MK4 Escort, or a 1965 Ford Galaxie with the 427ci block. Then at least motoring life gets fascinating and engaging.

The Vauxhall Cavalier might not be an oil painting, but it has the retro appeal on its side.

Unless we get kids.


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