The other day something unexpected happened when I opened my car to find a pair of stray reading glasses. As I opened the boot and inspected its contents, I felt a confusing sting deep in my eyes.
Not that the mess strewn about the back is anything out of the ordinary: mud-covered sneakers, an empty packet of Monster Munch pickled onion, a wad of old GCSE bills, two broken sunbeds and an open jar of glossy glittery lips, nicely speckled with a layer of down.
Looked at objectively, everything was so ordinary (unless you’re Tracey Emin, who might pay a hefty fee for this kind of confusion).
However, it made me experience a moment of emotion. It was family life in all its priceless glory – a sentimental example of why I love, love, love my super car.
That’s why I don’t have a truck – geddit? – with new research, which suggests UK residential streets are being turned into car parks because the new vehicles are so big they can’t fit into household garages. âNot only do cars get bigger,â says Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, which conducted the research, âthere are also more. This puts enormous pressure on roadside space and explains why many of us think parking spaces in parking lots don’t seem big enough.
Typical of the suburbs to arm space in the fight against large cars. It looks like it’s not in my backyard on my front drive either. But this latest news had no impact on my affection for my much-maligned 4×4.
All right, hands up. We actually have a little alley where I can grab my heavy 11 year old Volvo XC90. But even if we didn’t, I would still drive one. That’s why, until the aging hydraulics – the car is not mine – precipitate the final decline, I cling to this imposing and merciless engine.
Of course, there are a lot of challenges in handling such a big car. After all, it’s not tricky. Especially the breathtaking moments when I think a parking arch will shave the roof. There’s nothing quite like sneaking into tight spaces at the supermarket, either – the paint bears the war wounds of too many enthusiastic attempts.
In fact, despite having a driveway, I still shudder at the sound of metal on metal when I removed the exterior mirror from my neighbor’s daughter’s nearly new car when I backed up one morning. (It was Â£ 300 which I will never see again).
And it wasn’t until recently that I was challenged outside Tesco for cutting the bumper of the parked car face to face with mine. In addition to the width, the height of the car can be a challenge for the visual field. Luckily, the other customer didn’t suffer any damage to their engine (a zero for my big rubbery bumper).
As for those narrow country roads. Well I have just returned from a few days in rural North Wales, the memory of almost tipping over into a roadside ravine in order to avoid a collision with an oncoming Fiat is still very much present. .
I also realize that by holding onto my old 4×4 I am flying in the face of the government’s desire to reduce the carbon footprint caused by cars like this. After all, the sharp increase in the number of SUVs in the UK and around the world is the second largest contributor to the increase in global emissions since 2010, according to the International Energy Agency.
Driving a big car makes us feel a bit like environmental hooligans. However, in my defense, when I bought my car in 2010, we all knew little about the carbon footprint. Indeed, in 2001, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown introduced new vehicle tax rates which favored diesels, thanks to their CO2 emissions lower than those of gasoline vehicles.