MY friend Colin has never exactly ‘pushed the envelope’, to coin a piece of modern jargon. He’s never been a regular visitor to life’s cutting edge.
Safety first has long been Colin’s motto, caution his watchword. Colin’s never late for appointments, buses, trains, aeroplanes, lunch. He has no time for fancy dans or flash harrys.
Yet it wasn’t always like that. When he was but a slip of a lad, he drove a two-seater sports car. A red one. It was followed by a succession of other snazzy models – very smart, very dash-cutting. Very unlike the Colin of later years.
But as the years went by, and the emotional and financial burdens of marriage, children, mortgage and the rest weighed down on him, a different Colin gradually took shape – and it started with a Maestro. As the years went by, he moved from one lump of motorised dullness to another: Marina, Montego, Allegro, Cavalier, a succession of increasingly awful Rovers . . .
Recently, however, there seems to have been some sort of seismic change in Colin’s life, his personality, his outlook, everything. He’s taken early retirement, you see, and has suddenly shed the yoke of predictability and Rover-hood.
The kids have flown the nest, the mortgage has been banished, the daily commute is a thing of the past and suddenly a new Colin has emerged – if not exactly kicking over the traces then certainly loosening up a little.
He dithered for months, but he has finally changed his car. The last Rover has gone and he has bought a Subaru Forester. A swish metallic blue one, with all-wheel-drive, a huge sunroof and two litres of torque. Colin is thrilled with it.
Now even a Subaru Forester may not be everyone’s idea of cutting a motoring dash but I’ve always thought Subarus were a class act, even if they’re more admired for their quality than their looks. A sort of Wayne Rooney with wheels.
The Impreza is a cracking good car but looks as though it was designed for a medallion-wearing Mancunian in the early 1980s. The Forester was built for practicality rather than as eye-candy but if you were sent to war, you’d want one alongside you in the trenches.
Colin’s post-retirement activities have led him towards something of a Forester persuasion. He spends many a happy day driving up and down between his home and the locations of various physical activities, such as fishing, sailing, long-distance hiking, nature conservation and so on. The Subaru has become his best mate.
Sometimes I find it difficult to believe it is the same Colin who spent all those years convinced that the motoring world began and ended with British Leyland in its various guises and that anything built in Asia was untrustworthy.
The new, rugged, go-anywhere, all-wheel-drive Colin is almost unrecognisable.