Sunday Column: Peter Griffiths – Running Free

This month has been a very confusing one. Not being the most awesome money-manager means I have been getting all excited about financial matters due to being paid weekly by an agency and there having been an extra week of pay to usual. It has given something of a false impression, that is for certain, but it does not stop things like small all-wheel-drive J*panese hatchbacks from becoming appealing especially given the last two winters worth of snow and danger. Imagining skipping through the snow past so many Chelsea Tractors and FWD vehicles which should be able to cope being driven by people acting out the definition of insanity is highly appealing.

Not having to risk destroying my E30 in a stupid snowy accident also appeals greatly having had at least one seriously hairy moment in each episode of snow that we have experienced in the last 2 years. But seriously it must be made clear that one-handed oversteer corrections are second nature after a little while of living with an E30, however the snowy moments required a little more concentration and some actual faith. Down-shifting instead of even thinking about touching the brakes, highest gear possible riding the clutch to maintain grip instead of even thinking about touching the throttle – it’s a tricky and invigorating business and these bits of advice require much effort to remain faithful to.

Last Sunday Clarkson demonstrated to the world that he was incapable of trusting in what he had been told the Lotus T125 could, nay needed to do in order to get around a corner safely. Why? Obviously fear plays a part but he said himself that the cushion between too fast and too slow was a relatively large one so given that fact that ‘You must be doing 150mph in order for the aero to work’ should enable you to just do it. The engineers must think that he thinks they are lying if he does not do as they say, which makes no sense – they built the thing!

However, my AWD purchase plans arose due to it being summer and perfect in terms of driving conditions. So, in the same way as this is the worst time to buy a camper van or a convertible anything, it is the perfect time to get your hands on a 4×4 commuter mule for the wet and cold months. This only serves to highlight the fact that I have not had the use of my E30 during these glorious dry days hence the miserable 206 having to step up to the task of that wonderful Monday night three weeks back. A month has passed since I dropped it off in Stourbridge in the hope that it could be blessed with another year of legality.

Happily the call came through from my hero up in Stourbridge, Rich has really done a genius’ work in the last month and is proceeding this week to ticket the old beast for one more year. He will fully deserve anything that he charges for the work he has done when it comes time to settle up at the weekend, it really is amazing when a gem like RRP BMW Motor Spares is unearthed. Not even the petrol it costs to get there and back amounts to how much it would have cost to have the same jobs done down here in Berkshire, plus my parents live up there so that helps with logistics.

The RRP BMW Motor Spares makes sense if you want to have your car looked at by those in the know

That was a happy phone-call but still every silver lining has a cloud and this one lies in the fact that my little financial fantasy land (Cleethorpes notwithstanding) is about to be laid under siege by the cost of getting this flaming MOT. We do delude ourselves sometimes. Last night I even excitedly called my wife and exclaimed that I could go and buy an iPad right now – how about it?! Luckily sense prevailed on her part and I was restrained by the call of ‘rent’. ‘MOT’ and ‘holiday repayments/booking’. Fair enough. This little bubble will burst and I fear so will my mini-4×4 dreams with it.

My wife is nearly the only foundation of sanity left in my life now since having left the family in the West Midlands and various crazy schemes have been rationalised by her and given Viking burials in my mind. We have known each other since last century and spent the majority of it apart doing different things until last year when we finally married and co-habited for the first time. Those long years, that decade, involved many phone calls, many fleeting visits, exchanged weekends, the odd holiday away and three years at the same university. But most of all we will both remember the driving.

Endless driving around and rarely in each others company but always belting out our favourite tunes. Albums by bands such as the Buzzcocks, Kings of Leon, Creedence, Super Furries and Dexy’s Midnight Runners stand out as reminiscent of such journeys with the undercurrent of excitement of the anticipation of being together again for a short while. Absence, as has been quoted to death, makes the heart grow fonder and it is no less true regardless of how cynical you are or how much it is quoted. Now we have been settled for a year the craziness and dust has settled, hopefully you read about my automotive plans last week, but as a couple we appreciate our new life no less despite this.

The E30 find’s its way home in the darkness

This coming weekend I will probably put a certain few albums into a playlist on a generic music replay device and plug it into my ears as the train shuffles through the countryside hauling me back home to collect my big green and metal darling. The rush of excitement, satisfaction and appreciation of having my old car back under my bum will be a pleasure to indulge in. The mini-4×4 adventure will be on hold until rent and car are paid off but the excitement and anticipation for that particular journey will only continue to build in the same way.


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