Just before Christmas, our car got written off in an accident. Nobody was hurt, but the back of the car was caved in where the hoon ran into it, and the front was caved in where it hit the median barrier. The whole thing was a terrible mess.
After the excitement died down, I went to the tow yard to get all our personal belongings from the car. The usual polite and helpful towie was sitting behind the reception desk.
"You haven't got any tools with you, have you?" he asked suspiciously. "No ripping the radio out or any clever tricks like that. You can only take personal things that aren't nailed down."
"No," I said, "I haven't got any tools with me."
"Oi, Derek!" yelled the towie.
"What?" growled Derek.
"Go with him and show him where the car is. Make sure he doesn't nick anything he shouldn't."
Derek took me out to the car. It looked quite forlorn and I felt very sorry for it. I collected a rather pathetic pile of things. A torch, a book of maps, a tyre pressure gauge.
"There's a blanket in the boot," I said. Derek and I pushed and pulled, but the boot was too distorted and we simply couldn't get it open.
"Wait here," said Derek. "I'll get a crowbar."
He jammed the crowbar under the boot and heaved hard on it. With a shriek of tortured metal the boot opened up. It sounded like the car was crying. I collected the blanket and wrapped all the other things up in it and then I went home. I could feel the car staring after me as I walked away.
"Don't leave me! Please don't leave me. I'm hurt and I'm frightened."
It was worse than taking the cats to the vet!
To cheer ourselves up, we went shopping for a newish car. I began with a nostalgic visit to the outskirts of Wellington, to the car yard from which I bought my very first car after arriving here in New Zealand twenty five years ago. The car yard has gone through several ownership changes and name changes since then, but it still exists.
"That's a nice blue car," said Robin.
"Ah yes," said the sales thingy. "The Norwegian Blue. Beautiful plumage!" The sun was hot and the sales thingy was oozing grease. "Handles like a dream. You should see it drive through the pine trees around the fjords."
"I don't want a car that is pining for the fjords," I said.
We moved on and outwards in ever increasing circles.
In the Hutt Valley we found a car yard with a human being in charge. Either that or he was just extremely good at his job.
"Take a look at this," he said. "It's got a spoiler!"
And it had.
"It's got an aerial that goes up all by itself when you turn the radio on."
And it had.
"And the aerial retracts when you turn the radio off."
And it did.
"It's got a cup holder."
It did too.
"Did I tell you it's got a spoiler? It's got a spoiler."
"I'll buy it!"
And I did.
It's an eight year old Nissan Primera. Sort of silvery. With a spoiler.