Tuesday, December 04, 2007

In which I moan at the unfairness of life

Though of course, these things are relative.

I've not been posting much about the Horse Doctor and my attempt to buy a house. I'm not superstitious, you understand; I just hate having to explain to people when my plans have gone awry.

As yet, due to the vagaries of the law as practised in England and Wales, we haven't even exchanged contracts. All the searches and checks have now been done, though, and today I instructed my solicitors to proceed. If there are no hiccups (or hiccoughs, depending on where you're from) then in a couple of weeks time we will be one big step closer to ownership. Were we buying this house in Scotland, we'd be unpacking boxes and hanging curtains by now, but that's a different moan for another time.

I've complained in the past and at far too great a length about the cost of property around here, so I won't do that again. I will say, however, that to buy this place and have enough left over to do essential repairs, the Horse Doctor and I have had to scrape all our pennies together and even look down the back of the sofa for loose change.* Much has been sacrificed on the altar of house ownership, but nothing has hurt quite so much as what I have had to do today.

For today I have put the Batmobile up for sale.

I make no apologies for my love of Alfa Romeo cars. In my motoring life I've owned four, and still have three of them, at least for a while. Back when the Horse Doctor was still the Horse Student, we had an old 33 Gold Cloverleaf that was as much rust as anything else. I ran it for three years, then had to concede defeat. Now it languishes in a barn at my father's farm, waiting for a time when I might try and repair it. Nearly ten years now, it's been waiting, but I can't bear to scrap the thing.

Before that, there was JulieD, who even now languishes in a garage north of Machynlleth, where she's spent the summer having her clutch repaired. Hopefully next weekend I'll finally get her back, and frankly I'd have to be very skint indeed to even contemplate selling her.

And then there was my first ever car, a 1975 Alfetta GTV, which cost significantly more to insure than it did to buy. But what a car to have as a student. Well, OK, it was cool, but it was also full of holes and had rampant tin-worm. When I finally had to bite the bullet and scrap it, I raised just enough cash from the sale to buy my dad a carving knife and steel set for Christmas - it seemed only fair, since his generosity had kept it going far longer than I could afford to.

The Batmobile was the first Alfa Romeo I ever bought new. It was meant to be something I kept for a long time - bought in part with some of the deposit I'd saved up for the building plot that fell through. My thinking (faulty as ever) back then was that we would never be able to afford to buy a house, so why not have a little fun instead?

Perversely, it's the fact that the Horse Doctor and I are a bit better off now than we were then that means I have to sell. Without that improved income, we'd never have been able to even think about buying a house around here, and wouldn't need the extra cash. So really it's a bit rich of me moaning.

But filling out the online form at autotrader; summarising for an ad on the alfaowner forum; speaking to a couple of dealers nearby, with a view to part-exchanging for something older and much cheaper; all of these things done today have felt like a stab to the heart.

If you've never owned an Alfa Romeo, I don't suppose you'll understand.

*£1.26 in total, and a couple of Quality Streets that had gone a bit squidgy in their wrappers, but still tasted fine. And the cat's comb, too. Oh, and what looked like it might once have been a mouse, before it dried out completely.

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