The drizzle, gently settled on the windscreen, was hurried off by the screaching of the windscreen wipers as I drove towards Fleetwood, feeling much like a farmer must do when taking that ‘one last long walk’, with a faithful old sheep dog that’s outlived it’s usefulness.
The bulging brown evelope full of £20 notes in my jacket pocket felt as heavy as a shotgun draped over an arm as I pulled up outside the garage and the last ‘clunk’ of the drivers door shutting behind me sounded a lot like the ‘snick’ of a gun being cocked…
Hidden away inside a big glass building full of top-down convertable puppies and stout 4×4 gun dog style cars paperwork was signed and cash was counted and checked, while the floppy eared and suspensioned Berlingo sat patiently and trustingly outside.
Hands were shaken and a sleek coated, very business looking new car padded round the corner.
I no longer own the Berlingo and all of a sudden I’m feeling all emotional. Gone is the overly bouncy, noisy, tin can of a car. Gone.
I’m flooded with memories that suddenly take on a rosy tint. The first-sick-of-a-drunken-student yellow combined with flourescent-snot-from-the-third-day-of-a-serious-cold green of the interior isn’t horrible anymore, it’s just vibrant and fun. The whistling noise from the tin-can roof when ever you got to over 50mph isn’t annoying it’s quirky and cheery.
Oh crap have I made the wrong decision? This car may be comfier and quieter, but does it have the ‘personality’ of the Berlingo? I thought I hated driving round in a car that often caused people to whistle the theme to Postman Pat at me when I pulled up in it, but maybe I didn’t. Is this new car the equivalent of stopping dying your hair, getting a boring haircut, shaving off your cool beard and buying some nice shirts for work?
The road in front of me as I drive back through the drizzle bends and curves. The car sticks to the road, no understeer, no sliding wide. OK maybe I have made the right choice.
More memories flash through my mind; driving up Waddington Fell with Wayne, following Rich, failing to stay on any one side of the road as the Berlingo takes a more flamboyant route round the corners, causing fits of giggles from everyone. Driving over to the start of the first attempt at the Trans Cambrain record, across Wales with Jase, seeing the look of shock on his face as fairly tame roads were turned into knuckle-whitening roller coasters by the bouncing and sliding car.
All very terrifying at the time, but brilliant now. Like having a ‘crazy’ mate who can liven up any night out, but occasionally gets you arrested for being drunk and disorderly.
I glance at the fuel guage. It’s not moved since I set off from the garage and I’ve now been driving for around 45mins. My first thought is that is must be broken and have got stuck, before I realise that I’ve just not used much petrol. Wow. That’s nice. This car goes in the right direction, quietly, without draining it’s tank at the first suggestion of the accelerator being pressed. Quite like this actually!
The new car may be middle management grey. It may, at first glance, lack the ‘joie de vivre’ of the ‘Bling-Bling’ (one of the many daft names the Berlingo was given over the years), but it’s not all bad. A glance in the rear view mirror shows me two rows of seats behind, all of which can disappear into the floor of the car, meaning that the Belingo’s real party piece – van sized and shaped cargo space, could be under threat too.
More memories of just throwing the TD1 into the back of the Bling-o after huge rides, while others thrashed about trying to dismantle their bikes to get them in their respective boots flow by. I remember turning up at various trail centres, opening the tailgate and being instantly ready to ride while the rest of the car park faffed about, collapsing bike racks that seemed to be behaving like petulant children, refusing to pack down into a shape that would fit in the car. The Berlingo was brilliant in that respect, but the new car looks like it can do it too (though cleaning it out won’t be as east with it’s carpeted interior), hopefully there’ll be many more occasions where I can unpack and pack in half the time of everyone else…
I pull up onto the drive outside my house, with no ‘BONG’ sounds of protest from the suspension (no-one could ever work out just what it was that was wearing out on the Berlingo that meant the BONG noise had started to become more and more frequent, loud and disconcerting. It originally only appeared if you drove over a speed bump too vigorously (which, in itself was never a good idea as you had little control over which direction you’d end up pointing after the ducking and bobbing front he chassis had ceased) but had developed into a fault that reared it’s head pretty much contantly; round corners (at any speed) over and sort of bump or pothole, when reversing, when stopping…pretty much whenever you did anything.) and no “will I stop in time” excitement (the brakes on the Berlingo were rubbish too). I’m starting to like this.
The new car settles down in the Berlingo’s old bed without any fuss or pining (you thought I’d forgotten about the whole dog analogy, didnt you) and seems to fit perfectly.
Adieu ma petite Berlingo