Think of the old car addicts this Christmas!
As I write this now, there are people all over the country settling down to enjoy the festive season. Most of them will be looking forward to a few days relaxing with family and friends, presents will be wrapped, guests will be invited and drinks will be poured. A feast of proportions not seen since dinner at Hogwarts will be had, and after you fall asleep in front of the fire. It all sounds lovely in that picture-postcard traditional sort of way.
However. This is the season of goodwill to all men, and of course, all wimmins. It is a time when we must cast off the oppressive shackles of commercialisation and remember that this time of year is not just about presents, it is a time when we must remember those less fortunate than ourselves.
There are people out there for whom Christmas is not a time for celebration. People who are living in the vice-like grip of an affliction so vast and all-encompassing that the seasons pass them by un-noticed. Their condition causes them to become withdrawn and distant, they lose touch with friends and in some cases, even their families, who have tried so hard to help, eventually give up and abandon them. I am talking of course, about classic car lovers.
Classic car loving, or 'Rustophillia' if you will, is an addiction that has claimed countless millions over the years. Perfectly normal people with seemingly happy family lives fall into the trap laid by unscrupulous 'dealers' who prey on the unwitting first-time classic buyer who merely wants to buy an old Mini because his Dad had one, or the devoted wife who foolishly buys an MG for her husbands anniversary gift. That's how it starts you see, the gateway car.
At first the relationship is bright and rosy. You go on trips together, other people smile and wave when they see you together. It makes you feel warm and cosy on the inside to know you've scored with a good'un. But then, once they've lulled you into a false sense of security, the breakdowns start. For both the car and you.
Children's birthdays, school plays, even births will be missed because Dad is out in the cold trying to change the bypass hose on the Mini, or weld a new patch onto the perma-dissolving sill of his MGB. Neglected wives seek solace in the arms of the postman, his modern delivery van looking more and more appealing by the day. Friends and colleagues start to whisper about the disassembled carburettor in the kitchen sink, the oil stained work shirts, and the missed meetings. "Sorry chaps, just had to stop and adjust the points on the Triumph!"
Then it gets worse, the sufferer starts to believe that the best way to deal with the problem is to buy another classic, they start sneaking online in the middle of the night to download pictures of them, and talking to other addicts on specialist forums who egg them on, "Do it!" they say, "Buy that rotting carcass of an Alfa Spider that's been sat in field for ten years." In extreme cases sufferers have been known to amass many classics into what they label as a 'collection' and what the council label as 'POLICE AWARE'.
How do I know all this? Well, I have to admit to suffering this terrible illness myself in the past. I was the man rolling around on the driveway in the snow on Christmas day, trying to un-seize stuck calipers on my 25 year old BMW and looking at photos of Peugeot brake servos on the internet.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of my devoted family and friends, I have now been classic-sober for a good few months now. I now have a modern car that reciprocates my love by not eating its own con-rods once a week or starting a minor fire in its fuse box on the way to my fiancees birthday dinner. It's still with me though, I have to fight to control myself. Sometimes, I find myself checking up on BMW E28's for sale on eBay. I have to delete the browsing history afterwards though.
So please, whilst you are sat around the table in the warm, loving bosom of your family this year, please spare a thought for people fighting classic car addiction.
You'll know if you have one in your family, because he'll be running a bit late.
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