The End of An Era.

Eleven years and 5 days ago, I spent my insurance money from my last car being written off on the deposit for a new car. And I mean a NEW car. Brand New. Straight out of the showroom. 7 miles on the clock, It was a bit of an extravagance, but I felt I could afford it, if I was careful. I’m not sure what type of car you think The Crystal Wizard would choose, but it wasn’t a macho diesel-head’s choice! You may say I was old before my time, or just think I fell for “teh squeeee!” (for it was indeed cute!). I like to think I got a good deal on a cheap, easy to drive, low maintenance transport vehicle. £30/year Vehicle Excise Duty (‘Road Tax’ to the non-pedants amongst us), 50-60 mpg. Enough cargo capacity for my weekly shopping, or a customer’s PC in for repair*.
Imagine my pride as I rolled off the showroom forecourt in this beauty:

 Smart Car
My Old Smart Car, in better days.

Over the years, we went to so many places together. Avebury. Bristol. Aberystwyth. Loughborough. We explored almost all of Leicestershire; the main routes, the side roads, the dirt tracks and gated roads. Village and towns, cities and farms.

It seemed like a romance that would never end.

But, alas, that is not the way of things. Problems started to develop in the automatic gearbox, that had served me so well. More than once, i was stuck, blocking traffic in rush-hour. Not only did I have to stand at the side of the road, giving the queuing drivers apologetic looks as I waited for the RAC to arrive and carry me and my car to the garage, but I also had to endure the glances from said drivers. Delayed in their trip home, no doubt missing their loved ones, or wondering what shade of burnt their tea would be, their looks of pity and understanding were almost unbearable! Anger and frustration I could have coped with. Given as good as I got, and more. One lady, slowly crawling past, trapped in the heat of her steel cage, with a daunting motorway journey ahead, stopped to offer me a bottle of water. Another time, two youngsters, who I had taken for ruffians or ne’er-do-wells, helped me to push the car out of the main lane, and onto the pavement. This was also the time that, upon calling the local police to alert them to the blocked road (city centre, 5pm, main thoroughfare), the young lady on the phone chortled at my predicament and, with good cheer, said “You won’t be popular, either with the drivers, or the patrol car I’m sending! Good Luck!”.
Damn this World, and its Kindness of Strangers! 😉

Eventually, I had enough. It didn’t help that, while the Car was sat near my house, gearbox awaiting some TLC, some local thug smashed the rear window in. And stole NOTHING! There was a portable DVD Drive that cost me £70, that would have fetched £20 down the pub. A PSU that could have got £5. My emergency box would have provided them some mild amusement, if nothing else (tire-weld, air-compressor, bag of mints, transparent poncho). But no. They brought the police round to my house at 5 AM because they took nothing. Gits.

So, one last repair, I’m thinking. One last chance. I got the call a couple of days later. She’s ready to roll. Taking the bus to Anstey (a risky prospect at the best of times!), I collected my car, and set off to my next job. Out onto the A46, and open up the engine. Get some revs going … and nothing. No power. I managed to limp her home, but this was to be her last trip. The gearbox is still unreliable, the pistons are leaking, and I don’t know how long the cooling system will last.

So, the Car has sat on my parents’ drive, awaiting the end. I already had a replacement (Silver Stallion), so it was just a case of finding someone who would take her off my hands, preferably paying me for it, rather than me having to pay them!

And that day was today. A car transporter, already laden with several insurance-job vehicles rolled into my parents’ small village and blocked the road for half an hour while we sorted out paperwork.
I couldn’t bring myself to watch it drive away, and scurried inside, blaming my watering eyes and sniffling nose on the roaring cold I’ve had for the past two days.

Goodbye, Ebony Goddess. I’ll never forget you.

Ride on, Silver Stallion!

*max load in practice: One (tall) passenger and 5x 17" CRT monitors.

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