I KNOW THREE couples who have been married, then divorced and then married each other again.
Only one of those couples went on to re-divorce.
It has always astonished me that this has happened at all, let alone three times just within our friendship circle. I make no remarks at all about the institution of marriage, no comment about other people’s relationships and certainly nothing about divorce. Thankfully I have not experienced it, but from close observation almost no one emerges intact.
But I had reason to ruminate about this phenomenon when I turned my phone on last month and had a message from Greg.
I sold my Jaguar to Greg about two and a half years ago. It was a traumatic decision. Our eldest was having their first child – our first grandchild – and we wanted to help them buy a house. The easiest way to raise some capital was to flog a car or three. So I did. Greg bought the E-type, and the minute he drove it away was the exact moment in history when the prices of E-types started their steady climb to stratospheric heights.
I soon realised that I would never be able to buy another of these iconic cars, and that fifteen years of memories was all I had left. But there had to be other ways of getting a similar thrill without spending so much.
I searched for and eventually found an affordable Alfa Spider, rust and all. Two years of steady work – mostly by skilled professionals, not me – finally got it to the point of a fully sorted and re-built original rhd convertible that went like the proverbial and was a bucket of fun. And red. Very red.
Turns out it was too red. Over summer, registered and all, I drove the Alfa to the beach, to the shops, to visit friends – everywhere. My beloved came for one drive, only. She declared thereafter that it made me look like “one of those sad mid-life crisis jerks” who goes and gets a red sports car and a mistress – in that order – and she did not want to encourage me along that path.
So I harumph-ed a bit, tried to reason with her, explained that I had granted her the right of veto before I had even bought the car and other wasted mutterings. Deaf ears.
And then just as I was facing up to the full tragedy of selling one of the most fun cars ever made, Greg sent me a message. He had decided to sell “my” E-type and before advertising it was wondering if I was interested in getting it back? In a nanosecond I called him back. First question – how many trees had he collided with whilst owning the car and what condition was it now in? Turns out other than feeding it a fresh drink of oil and the odd filter, nothing much needed doing. He had enjoyed owning it a while – but the novelty of folding himself in half each time he had to get in or out was wearing off. And he had his eyes on a newer toy.
Then came the awkward question of money. Neither of us could pretend to be unaware of the soaring prices these cars have been fetching, but ever gracious and a true gentleman Greg calmly said, “You gave me a good deal so I can now return the favour….” and offered to sell me “my” car back for only a small premium. Deal done. I was remarrying the car I had ditched.
Which then left me with the awkward equation of having more cars than garage. Something has to make way, and there is also the not unimportant factor that the Jaguar has to be paid for.
Which brings us back to the Alfa. It has to go. We do not have favourite children, nor ought we be sentimental with cars. But being ruthless and unsentimental in flogging the Alfa means I have to pretend I am not being sentimental in re-connecting to the Jag !
Having spent the last two years getting the Alfa sorted, attending to its every quirk and need, indulging and cursing it in equal measure, I will smile knowing I am making someone else very happy. It is a ripper of a car, well deserving its legendary reputation. Roof down, throttle blipping, music blasting, tyres gripping, open road beckoning – what’s not to like? Knowing all the new panels that have gone into it, the reco carbies, the brake renewal, the head gasket, the electrical gremlins banished through sheer doggedness – it is all fettled now and trouble free.
But what better reason could I have for selling a car I have come to love?
I am defying history and reuniting with an old flame.