Wednesday, 8 February 2017

New Car Guilt?

 It's a strange thing, having a brand-new car. Our usual policy is to buy nearly new and run the thing into the ground. Apparently, new cars have 50% of their lifetime carbon footprint sitting right there in the showroom. But we were offered a really good deal which meant that for us it was irresistible; the car has a huge guarantee, it is, by repute, very reliable, and we're not, as they say, getting any younger. It was hardly worth buying a nearly new car, at least in financial terms. It might well have been worthwhile in environmental terms.

We console ourselves with the thought that we only run one car, which can be pretty inconvenient, living where we do, but we stick to it. And we hope to run this one until it falls apart, like the last one. Also, being new, it is much more economical to run and much less polluting via the exhaust pipe than our old car. It's not a diesel engine, for starters.

Well, it would be naive to think that any of us have only one agenda when it comes to the environment. But for me, a more interesting strangeness relates to car worship. 

I have always found it too easy to be condescending about petrol heads and their worship of the machine; it is a culturally and environmentally damaging obsession, and it gets into the heads of some people, especially young men, and causes them to kill others and themselves from time to time. 

On the other hand, letting go of striving for the "right" view of owning this car and simply being in the present moment whilst driving it makes you realise what a remarkable machine a modern car is. 

How silly it would be to take that for granted. This humble hatchback, a "small car" in terms of modern definitions, is a much better machine, in practical terms, then the beautiful old monsters I used to worship in my adolescence. I have to say if I were offered an Austin Healey or an Aston Martin now, I would prefer to have our car.
                            (it's an Austin Healey 3000, if you're interested)
 Jeremy Clarkson, high priest of totally irritating petrol heads, actually has it right when he says that we are pretty good nowadays at the old suck squash bang blow, i.e. the internal combustion engine. We are also very good at making cars reliable and comfortable. What we have to do now is to restrain them and limit them more effectively, and I'm not sure Clarkson is any help at all in this task.

If I lived in the pre-car area I might have more time for contemplations and walks because the pace of life was slower but I certainly wouldn't see family and friends as often as I can now. We are where we are - today.

And I will confess secretly here and now that I do like looking at it; it's bright red, for goodness sake!

(this isn't actually our new car)

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