Since taking a job at Telefonica I’ve had a fairly dramatic change of lifestyle. Namely – I now have a car.
I learned to drive pretty much as soon as I hit 17. Within a few months, I had passed my driving test (first time!) and so I took to the road.
That last year of sixth-form before university I drove my batterd old Peugeot to death. I remember driving my friends everywhere – cinema, pub, randomly around town – it didn’t matter. I had the freedom to drive where I wanted. As long as mum had filled the car up with petrol.
I got a job at Thorpe Park the summer before I went to UEA. I drove back and forth every single day, listening to Chris Evans on the crackly medium-wave radio.
Taking a car to university would have been madness. Even if it had survived the journey up to Norwich, parking would have been expensive – and the fine city was served by a fine bus network.
Over my years at university, Liz and I walked everywhere. If we were feeling Ritzy we’d take a bus – but mostly we rode Shank’s Pony the hour’s walk into town and out of town. Cars dropped out of my life.
I got a job which came with its own van. We used it a few times to pick up shopping – but it wasn’t the sort of thing you could park outside a mate’s house.
Moving down to Newbury, again, there was no need for a car. We both could walk to work and the town centre wasn’t really far enough away to warrant a vehicle. We got a small blue car for some reason – probably because it only cost £200. We sold it a year later for £100.
So, for the last 6 years we’ve been without a permanent car. I’ve hired a vehicle when we desperately needed to go somewhere without public transport – but that was it.
My new job necessitates a commute. And, while sitting on the M25 every day isn’t exactly the highlight of my day, it’s infinitely preferable to paying three grand a year for South West Trains substandard service.
I’d been driving a Prius as a temporary car – although I loved the efficiency (65MPG most days), the size was just too much for me to handle. Ever since destroying a car park with my van, I’ve had a loathing of large vehicle. So the Yaris Hybrid it was.
It’s small, nippy, fuel efficient, and – most importantly burning red!