Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Individually Made


It was an extremely cold radiant morning when I took our main car to the garage for its MOT and annual service last Thursday, 20 October.

As I turned into the drive from the main road I saw two vintage cars parked to the side, one a gleaming black Ford Mustang and the other an older looking, less sporty car in a deep shade of maroon. I drew to a halt alongside this second car and spoke to its proud driver, who turned out to be one of the garage's owners. He told me the car was an Alvis dating from 1949, the year my parents were married. I admired its lines, the bold front wheel arches sweeping up towards the bonnet, the mounted chrome headlights and shape of the cabin harking back to the design and construction of horse-drawn coaches.

Having handed my ignition key over, I set off for home on foot, invigorated not only by the freezing air but also by the knowledge that I was dealing with people who had a deep seated love of cars. I was confident my own rather mundane vehicle would be in safe hands.

When the mechanic reported on the condition of my car later in the day, he mentioned that, although an MOT certificate had been granted, the inspector had remarked that there was movement in the MacPherson struts forming part of the front suspension. This was normal in some cars but he was not sure whether it was a characteristic of our ten-year old Vauxhall. It was therefore left as an "advisory" item and he would check with the manufacturers and come back to me.

This conversation came back to me as I was cleaning my teeth this morning and led to a little realisation, which is that my perception of my illness has shifted somewhat over the year since diagnosis. I no longer (although low points no doubt come and go) habitually think of myself as having a blight called "cancer". I now see the disease as an element of my particular constitution, in especially positive moments as a mark of individuality, just as much so as the quirks in construction of different cars.

Incidentally MOT documents are now all plain black and white, with no colour coding to differentiate certificates from failure or advisory notices. Cheaper to print in these times of cuts. Anyway, that's all for now. I'm just going to collect some acorns to make "coffee".

Alvis TA14.
This one's a bit more sparkly than the one I saw and has lovely white-walled tyres, but this was the colour all right.

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