There have been some dark times this year, driven mainly (but not entirely) I think by the weather. Therefore, this post is going to have a rather different feel to it than my usual car-related waffle. It’s also quite long. Sorry about that. It’s a proper random outpouring. I sometimes do this just for the release I get from pressing keys rapidly on a keyboard (80 words per minute when I’m really flying.)
So here goes, with a biggy. I’m slightly distressed to find myself feeling utterly fed up with cars. No, it’s true. I really do feel like that. I must be seriously unwell.
Don’t get me wrong – I really like the 2 cars I currently have in roadworthy condition, and I still like the one that’s rotten and needs some TLC. Both cars appeal to me greatly and do what I want. Sorted. Also, having only two cars on the road is a bit easier to cope with than 5. the To Do list is a lot shorter for a start, and tax and MOT payments are that much further apart.
But the freelance life can be a hard one, and worries about income taint the whole classic car experience for me. I’ve suffered with this for a few years to be honest. Going to car shows becomes less fun because you’re so desperate to get that all important photo shot that somehow sums up the event – though this did lead to me scaling some scary heights at the International Citroen Car Clubs Rally in a cherry-picker. The view was great, but my photos weren’t! I think I was shaking too much…
Still, I got a report in Classic & Sports Car which helped towards the cost of what was our longest holiday in two years (five days!).
Actually, perhaps that event is the problem. It was so incredibly good that you wonder how any event could possibly top it. A field full of more than 1000 Citroens – with some of the rarest machines amongst them. Wow. Perhaps I’m still on a come-down.
Nonetheless, the magic feeling I get from classic cars just isn’t around at the moment. I went to the NEC Classic Motor Show last month, and it was immense. It is thought that more than 60,000 people attended over three days and I organised the first ever appearance of the BX Club at the show. It was a great thing to do and I’m very grateful to the other club members who helped make it happen. But I just didn’t have my usual desire to amble the halls and check out the incredible machines on offer. I never even got to the Metro Club stand and it wasn’t just because it was so busy. I took a handful of photos and I don’t think I’ve actually looked at them. How many slightly-orange photos of cars in a big hall does one person need? Apparently I have 1247 of them from NEC shows from 2005 until this year. I’m not sure why.
I can distantly recall a time when I used to enjoy reading motoring magazines, but that hasn’t really been the case for years. I’ve got magazines taking over the dining room/office but it seems a waste to have so many words that I’ve never read. I think I need a clearout.
In short, I think you can have too much of a good thing. Thankfully, there are other things for me to focus on, but they’re even worse at bringing in money than my main job. One of those is volunteer minibus driving. I always dreamt of being a bus driver and I can honestly say that while I may have failed to cruise the streets of Birmingham behind the wheel of a Daimler Fleetline with Park Royal bodywork as I really wanted to do as a child, transporting elderly folk around the dramatic, beautiful scenery of mid-Wales in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus is still pretty darned good. Not that it stops there, because I seem to also be Vice Chairman and a Director of the community transport group that I drive for. It is primarily voluntary work though, so it’s fun but doesn’t pay the bills!
The other thing is putting on gigs at our local hotel. This was another opportunity we never imagined would happen when we moved here in 2010. Since we took over earlier this year, we’re pulled in some of our favourite live acts (albeit our favourite live acts that we can actually afford!) and it’s been mind-blowing. Some gigs we’ve lost money, but we’ve managed to get through our first year with the cash balancing out by the end of it. More stress, but there have been some monumental good times.
The gigs and the transport hint at a developing problem I have. I’m becoming a bit of a recluse. Not trapped in the house, but in the locality. We’ve made many good friends here and we’re very fortunate that we can have a lot of fun without having to travel very far. That makes us more and more reluctant to travel far. For a start, travel costs money, even in a 54mpg Citroen, and pretty much all of the UK is now a long way away. But I think there’s also a deep desire to think more like people did before the advent of the bicycle, telephone, car and internet. We enjoy a MASSIVE sense of community here and it can lead you to question the need to think further than the immediate locale. Is there really any point worrying about the problems of the world beyond the nearest villages?
It’s strange really because in 2010 when our world was falling apart and we decided to run away, we considered joining a hippy commune somewhere to escape the wider world. We didn’t do that in the end, but it’s amazing how sometimes it feels like we have done just what we intended!
Yet whatever our dreams and desires, the biggest problem is still how to earn enough money to fund even our simple lifestyle. I have plans for 2013 but have no idea whether these plans are realistic or not. It will be interesting to find out…