It’s an oily rag of a cliff-hanger

AS I type these words, I have no idea of what is going to happen. This, you see, is a real-time cliff-hanger.

The old car is heading for another MOT today. It’s a regular teenager now at 16 years old. Over the years it has picked up a few fashion statements, scratches for tattoos and a fancier adornment, a freehand whorl in the paintwork, where I reversed into our gatepost at night.

There are nearly 140,000 miles on the clock but the valiant estate still drives well. The electric windows don’t slide so willingly nowadays and the CD player gave up the ghost years ago. But the radio works, as does the tape cassette (see, I told you it was an old car), and a connector through the tape deck allows me to listen to music from my iPod. The speakers are good, although the one at the front on the driver’s side sometimes has to be encouraged with a thump.

Another fault with the speakers is that they seem to transmit an awful lot of Richard Thompson, but it is arguable that is not the fault of the car. Quite a bit of Van Morrison seems to be stuck in those speakers too.

The seat-warmers in the front still work so that bottoms can be warmed on a cold day. Perhaps Swedes have a thing about hot bots. Nowadays the air-conditioning is not so hot, but I can live with that.

The car is our second Volvo after the big silver one with leather seats seemingly borrowed from a gentleman’s club. That one went in the end because it only ran on leaded petrol. This one is a V70 and you see plenty of them around, some older than ours. So fingers crossed.

It’s seen some action has that old estate. Family holidays and all those trips to and from universities in three different cities, with the car crammed to the roof, every spare inch taken up with student detritus.

Trips to the tip, endless trips to the tip. This weekend one journey saw the car filled with rotting greenery from the garden. That all went into the green skip and the cabbage smell didn’t linger for too long. Yesterday we introduced another garden aroma, claiming our reward for all that deposited green stuff with a load of free compost. Just take some bags and a spade, stand before a crumbling hill of corporation compost and start digging. It’s not often you get anything for free from the council.

On one occasion the car rescued our eldest son after his scooter broke down on a country lane. With the back seats down, we managed to squeeze his heavy transport on board. The smell of petrol lingered for weeks.

For a while, when our middle boy was in a band with his schoolmates, I had a part-time job as roadie. Once the car returned from a rehearsal with the entire band and their instruments. Speed-bumps were approached cautiously that night, as the car was only a couple of inches off the road, and I didn’t want the exhaust to do a drum solo. Other times I parked at the back of Fibbers in York, waiting in the concrete shadows for a gig to end and the band to emerge.

On less of a heavy metal note, the Ercol dining table where I sit with my laptop travelled here in the back of that car too, along with the four matching chairs.

In a couple of hours, I shall lay my bicycle down in the versatile car and drive to the little one-man garage where the car has its annual check-up and service. I have noticed a few mechanical aches and pains, and a distant clank or two. From experience I fear that the exhaust pipe may be a little disconnected: the car’s that is, and not mine.

Old cars are worth nothing and they are worth a lot. I’d be lucky to get a grand for the old Volvo, but the car is worth more than that to me. So hopefully it won’t have to join me on this here ledge.

Those Swedes knew what they were doing back then, knew how to build a proper car. With regards to that cliff-hanger, the oily denouement will have to wait until later today. Here’s hoping…

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