Last week, we heard the sad news we have been dreading for years: our beloved Renault Megane, Derek, had failed his MOT and the cost of repairing him was not going to be worth it.  I should add that he is 22 years old this year.  We felt as though we had been living on borrowed time for the last few years and he has had ongoing issues with leaks and damp that can’t be resolved.  We have both been in tears.

“Good grief, it’s only a car,” I hear you say.  Allow me to explain…

We inherited Derek from a relative who died eleven years ago and who we named him after. We have fond memories of family holidays (he lived in Devon) and, at the risk of sounding fanciful, we have always felt the “real” Derek was looking after us every time we went out in him and, boy, did we go out! My partner hadn’t owned a car for many years and I had never had one, so we made the most of it, exploring our local area more thoroughly and beyond. We called him our “freedom pass” and went out in him every weekend. Having both fitted our lives around unreliable public transport timetables for many years, this new-found spontaneity was wonderful.

We love to visit antiques and vintage fairs and shops, discovering many off-the-beaten-track ones and, thanks to Derek’s generous boot capacity and folding back seats, we have brought back many large items of furniture from them, including a table, drawers, bookcase, huge mirror, large wooden chest, bench, chairs, big pots for the garden (and big plants to go in them), garden statues, a staddle stone, an extremely heavy garden roller that took three of us to get in and out of the car and through the house and many other exciting treasures – though not all at once, of course.  When we moved here, ten years ago, we agreed an awful lot wouldn’t have been possible without Derek’s stalwart support.  There have been the many, many trips to garden centres to stock our “new” garden and many, many visits to the dump with garden rubbish and other stuff.  We always joked our next car would have to be a van.

This afternoon, Derek left our drive forever (cue more tears) and a new car is already in his place.  It’s not a van.  It’s a Honda Jazz.  Smaller, neater and probably more economical to run than Derek but, in common with most cars today, regardless of make and price, it looks as though it’s come out of the same mould.  It lacks Derek’s stately grace and distinctive shape that stood out so well from the madding crowd.  He had style and class. You rarely see another car with his lovely, regal, deep blue colour. Others laughed at his wind-up windows.  We loved them.  He didn’t have a CD player and the radio frequently wavered between stations.  We didn’t care.  We liked being different and having the oldest car in our street and (most likely) entire neighbourhood.  We live in an area dominated by flash four-by-fours and racy sports cars and it was a bit of a fingers-up to everyone else, with their silly, incessant need for bigger, better, faster…

We will grieve for Derek as we have grieved for his namesake over the years.  Now, though our hearts aren’t really in it, we need to come up with a name for our new car.  Any suggestions?


Author: Hampton Caught

The rants and ramblings of an ex Deputy Fiction Editor of Woman's Weekly magazine.

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