I used to have a cat called Kick. I loved her. She… Well, the best that could be said of her was that she tolerated me. She hated pretty much every other living, breathing being on the planet. She was a skilled killer and thief. She once had a slice of pizza from my wife’s fingers halfway between her plate and her gently salivating mouth. One day she was off her food and the next she was very poorly indeed. I took her to the vet who kept her in for tests and observation. The vet called me a couple of hours later to say that her kidneys had failed and that dialysis wasn’t really an option for cats. I picked her up from the vet’s surgery and took her home. Later that afternoon, the vet came and put her to sleep. We spent a couple of hours sitting quietly together on the sofa waiting for the vet. I had that quiet, heavy dread you only get waiting for something truly awful to happen.
I had something similar in kind if not in degree to that yesterday. A very nice man from BCA came to collect my Octavia. I took it out for a last trip around the block. I gave my wife a lift to the bus stop where she heads off to work then took it to Tesco one last time. I had planned to wash and vacuum it myself this morning but I couldn’t face it. I had the valet people in the Tesco car park give it a once over. They’re very good. The rosso brunello paint shone, the alloys sparkled, I rediscovered that the carpets are actually black and not dark grey. Then I drove home and waited with a falling heart for the driver to come. I was flicking through Car Fever by James May without really taking it in. I’d been looking at another James May book on that other terrible day. Funny, that.
In the past three years I’ve covered roughly 90,000 miles in two Octavias, this one and a blue one I swapped with my colleague when I was piling on the miles too quickly to my red one. I much preferred my red one. My colleague’s blue one was rear-ended outside his house and it just didn’t feel as together as mine. It was light on its tyres, averaged well over 50mpg, was quiet and refined on the many, many motorway miles we shared, was reasonably well-equipped, the boot was truly gigundous and I think it was handsome in a low-profile sort of way.
I can only really report two faults. I came out on three separate occasions to find all the windows wound down. I am thankful that it happened on outside my house on each occasion and not in one of the less reputable locations I had to park it over the years. It flattened its battery once when I had to leave it outside my house for over a week one winter when I had a dose of flu and was unable to drive. Other than that, I suffered an occasional numb buttock but I had to have been in the driver’s seat for more than eight hours for that to happen.
I’ll miss that Octavia almost as much as I do grumpy old cat. Whoever buys it next is in for a treat. It still feels tight at just under 90,000 miles. I hope it doesn’t end up as an urban minicab somewhere. I’d rather think of it spending the next few years gently wending down country lanes in a leafy part of the country. So long and farewell. It’s been wonderful.