39 - Five legs and no wheels
An artwork featuring double yellow lines provided the spark for this blog a couple of years ago, and that double yellow thread has wound through, popping up every so often in the posts, the bane of the motorist’s life, but an enticing guide, promising distant adventures to any walker who follows them into the unknown.
My own car never once let me down. It always started first time and never broke down en route – an old reliable friend, but one I had mistreated and neglected. Parked streets away from my house (blame those double yellow lines again), it never got a wash or an interior vacuuming. Bits of trim had been thieved from it and never replaced, moss was creeping from the radiator grille, and along the wiper sill a lovely little wildflower garden was becoming established among the dead autumn leaf mulch. In winter, a mould of neglect would start to grow on its upholstery. When you get to the grand old age of fourteen and a half, MOT time whizzes round with alarming rapidity. My car, as I said, had never let me down, but I was using it less and less. Often, when I went to retrieve it after a couple of months, I would half-expect to find a “Police Aware” notice attached to its windscreen. So when MOT time came round this time, I decided that the pros of keeping my old workhorse were far outweighed by the cons. A kind used car salesman took it off my hands for a token price “as a gesture of goodwill”. And away I trotted to the bus station.
I did suffer a few sleepless nights after that. I had owned the car for ten years and that represents a lot of memories, adventures, people, house moves (many of these) to let go of. But so far my world hadn’t ended, and there had been little change to life… Then I remembered… A couple of weeks before I’d got rid of the car, I’d driven a big tripod studio easel whose back leg had collapsed over to “Very Untraditional”, an upcycling emporium in Sandown where “Mr Fixit” had promised to do just that, and I had left it there with him. How would I get it home? It was tall and quite heavy, and I live at the top of a very steep hill. With trepidation I caught the train to Sandown, and walked to the shop the long way round through bits of the town I would certainly never have seen had I driven myself there, admiring graffiti walls and hubcap art as I went. When the time came, I seized the easel, duly fixed, in my hand, took a deep breath like a puny weightlifter, and off I went up the road – taking, this time, the most direct route back to the station. Every so often I would stand the easel up on its legs and take a breather, looking for all the world, I’m sure, like Monet, lost without his wheelbarrow and brushes, or even a canvas to paint on. But the streets and the train were November-afternoon empty and I got home without causing too much disruption or unwarranted attention, delighted with the once-more steady third leg on my easel.
Without a car, my world hasn’t ended yet, but it has already become more interesting. Walking is more fun and less stressful than driving, even with an oversized studio easel as a companion, and I didn’t have to break the law parking on the double yellow lines outside to get it into the house.
Once inside, I started to appreciate the delights of just being at home and safe indoors. Sometimes you don’t need to go anywhere. As I write this on Remembrance Sunday morning, I am finding that sometimes the world comes marching straight up to your door.