"You know", asked my new friend, the soldier from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, "you know how we call people like you?" "No?"
"Petrol-head, that's what we'd call you. Very unusual in a woman."
In my life I had so many cars that I can fill long winter-evenings with their stories. The silver Lancia Beta 2000 I loved most - more than the Audi 100, or the big Volvo limousine or the Volvo Kombi, which superseded the second red Lancia (in the meantime I had become a mother and behaved properly - no more races with daft Alfa Romeo drivers who always underestimated the potential of my Lancia, ha!)
But my dream car - as I told you - has always been a Jaguar. Not Inspector Morse's Jaguar Mark I (almost impossible to get), not the Jag E-Type (oh! oh! - saw a sky blue dream dream yesterday), but the Daimler Double Six.
And I found it: Black. With cream-white leather seats. Top condition. Fair price - affordable luxury. ("And", said my son, "you don't drive much, so the 21 liter fuel it needs in the city won't harm you.")
Oh, I already saw me wearing the little lapel pin my friend Anne had given me for my birthday.
And then it happened.
"(...) he didn't look where he was going ... and suddenly he put his foot in a rabbit hole, and fell down flat on his face.
Piglet lay there, wondering what had happened. At first he thought that the whole world had blown up; and then he thought that perhaps only the Forest part of it had; and then he thought that perhaps only he had (...) "(...) And where's my balloon? And what's that small piece of damp rag doing?"
It was the balloon!
I did something I should have done a long time ago.
I opened the door of the dream car (what a sound!), I climbed into it (heaven!) I looked into the rear-view mirror (yes! it looks divine on me). I looked again, with driver's eyes. And saw: NOTHING.
Rectification: I saw the contour of the back window.
Only the contour.
Now you know: this Jag is 5,148m long. A driver who isn't able to park that car properly in a narrow city is for me the epitome of ridiculousness.
I know when I am defeated.
But thought that it was salt in the wounds of my bleeding heart when son texted me an SMS: "Buy a Mini!" Sarcasm in the very young - so unbecoming! :-) That was error no. 2: he (previous owner of two Pontiac Firebirds) meant it.
"It is a nice, easy city-car", he told me.
I am able to learn from my errors (hopefully) - so in Berlin you could see me yesterday driving a rented black Mini Cooper. I'll test it until I find one to buy.
PS: Sighing secretly: the company doesn't let Jags...