I've had my car for almost exactly five years now and by the end of my drive home from Bristol today I was a mere 15 miles short of that momentous moment when the mile-ometer clicks over to 50,000 - a seemingly pathetically exact 10,000 miles a year, but in fact it was a couple of years before I really started to use the car regularly (due to my nervousness at the wheel) and I've done a good proportion of those miles in the last 18 months travelling the length and breadth of the mainland United Kingdom on my way to gigs. It's hard to believe I coped into my thirties without a car and it only really happened then because my girlfriend of the time was sick of driving me everywhere. Though ironically the arrival of the car more or less coincided with the end of that relationship. It seems weird that that was all half a decade ago.
It was pathetically childish of me not to drive (though a lot of the decision had been made by my financial rather than emotional impoverishment) and though progress has been slow I am now a fairly confident driver and I use the car a fair deal (though mainly on out of town trips - I am trying not to destroy our environment. Are you? No nor me really. It's just easier to take the tube to be honest) I certainly wouldn't have found it as easy to get back into stand up without my own vehicle and it's moved my self-confidence on in so many ways. I was a bloody idiot in my early thirties to be honest. I hope the me in the early forties will say the same about the me in my late thirties, because there is still some way to go before the idiocy is wiped out. I suspect it never will be. In some ways I am more stupid. And I'm stupid in ways I had never dreamt of five years ago now, so perhaps I will look back on how clever I was comparatively in another five years.
The car has seen four major relationships come and go (that's not including the rollercoaster of emotions that was Simon Streeting - may he rest in peace) and is filled with memories happy and sad - mainly happy to be honest, but as much as I used it to go somewhere cool and exciting, I sometimes used it to get away from somewhere sad and upsetting. But I am still glad I had it for the sad times because I would have looked stupid walking back from Hampshire in tears, whereas in a car I was shielded from all but the sharpest of eyes, who might have just thought I was crying with laughter at something on the radio.
But mainly I remember the nice things and the fun journeys and not all of them were with someone else. This little mini tour of east and west England has been typical of the fun and freedom of bombing down the motorways and A roads of this fine country, listening to music, nearly running over a single magpie (true), seeing the aftermath of the accidents of more foolish drivers, seeing a car engulfed in smoke on the hard shoulder, stopping at service stations and stealing pick 'n' mix and eating unpleasant service station food. None of this would be possible without my car. So I'd like to wish my little VW Golf Automatic a happy fifth birthday: you are more reliable than a woman and also better for transporting large volumes of stuff, but you are more expensive than most of them - probably not Kelly though to be honest - and I will have no compunction in having you crushed and buried in the ground once you are no longer any use to me (If the laws of this country were different then there's a couple of women who I'd happily treat in the same way, but the legal system works and thus they remain uncrushed).
I look forward to our next fifteen miles together and then the next fifty thousand. I hope I am observant enough to be looking at the dial when the 50000 ticks over. Doubtless I will miss it and with it my chance to relive my childhood by going "waaaaaaaaaaa-ooooooh Ahhhh!" as it finally clicks through.
Had the me of five years ago known that one day it would cost over £50 to fill you up I am sure he would have been astonished. But that dark day finally occurred today. 99.9p a litre? I ask you. The petrol producing countries are taking the piss. I think we should invade them or something. That's get the price down.