I have owned my current car for nearly three years – it is a large SUV bought on a friend’s recommendation as a means of dealing with my chronic bad back that might have been caused or exacerbated by getting in and out of my previous low-slung A3 hatchback.
I cannot be sure – and will never know – whether both his diagnosis and suggested cure were correct, but I can say I don’t have a bad back any more (at the least to the same extent). I love the driving position and the look of the cabin. When I am at the wheel I feel cocooned in a road cruise-liner, above and divorced from ordinary mortals.
That said, I am no petrol head. I do not know what some of the instruments and dials are for, or indeed what they are trying to tell me. During winter time the clock behind the steering wheel tells the right time – during ‘summer’ I have to keep remembering that it shows a time one hour behind the actualité because I’ve still not yet worked out how to change the clock.
One thing that I regularly take notice of – probably because I can – is the outside temperature gauge.
On New Year’s Eve, at I set off to the local village to purchase my daily papers at 5.55am, it was registering -2.5 degrees Centigrade. Setting off one minute earlier than that today, it was showing a reading of 10 degrees Centigrade.
Over the past week I’ve been watching a lot of television. A significant strand of it has consisted of reviews of the past twelve months. Some of these have been trite, others fascinating. Most memorable for me have been the reviews of ‘those who are no longer with us’- ranging (for me) from those whose passing I remembered with sadness when it happened and regarded with fondness and admiration – Tony Benn for some reason springs to mind as I type – to those whose death I didn’t remember at all and/or had no feelings about whatsoever, good or ill.
More pertinent, perhaps, was another strand of note – the weather, particularly the extreme events of the widespread flooding in the West Country, Thames Valley and the east coast of Britain; storms; hurricanes; even typhoons in Japan.
If I recall correctly, there were periods in the summer during which the family lawn grass was parched pale brown and to all intents and purposes seemingly dead. Then there were other times when it grew inordinately long, simply because the incessant rain prevented anything heavier than an empty refuse sack being dragged upon it – and certainly not a sit-upon tractor lawnmower.
Both the endless days of sun and endless days of rain were inevitably cursed to the heavens.
Last night there was an item on the local television news about the thriving English wine industry, courtesy of the chalky soil and of course the weather. Nobody specifically mentioned the dreaded phrase ‘climate change’, but (one could argue) that’s probably what it amounted to. Sunnier weather means better vine growth and better wine.
I understand that the weather for the week ahead is going to take a turn for the worse and colder.
That’s why this morning I set off for the local Homebase store and loaded up with kindling, logs and smokeless fuel. Nothing like a roaring fire to accompany the televised sport, is there?!