Mid life crisis

Created: Friday, 06 December 2013 Written by Simon Renfrew

Decades past, it’s likely you took for granted the benefits of youth, free bed and board and the advantages of a robust bladder. Blissfully unaware that your adult life would be perpetually impoverished (your bank balance a victim of fast women, slow horses and school fees), instead - and in between worrying about your supply of Clearasil and getting served at the pub - you’d have stared enviously from the seat of your Mini as some exotic two door soft top blasted by. One day, you thought, that’ll be me.

Years later, and the need to transport prams and bumper sized packs of Pampers around has gone. You’ve settled in sunny, traffic free France and, unusually, have a few bob to spare – so what better time to plough a modest sum into a totally impractical car. Given the price of the second hand offerings south of the channel, a UK right hand drive voiture seems the way to go. Hours are then spent trawling websites until you chance upon something suitably flashy – at which point 50 years of accumulated common sense goes out of the window.

With the kind of faith you used to invest in the tooth fairy, you take the dealer’s assurances at face value, send him a chunk of cash and organise transport of your new chariot to France. A couple of weeks pass until its arrival, at precisely which point the problems start – knackered battery and air con, non functioning central locking and no spare keys amongst them. Tant pis, you think, get this all fixed, sort the immatriculation and plaques Francaise and it’ll be all systems go.

Or not. On top of all the anticipated paperwork and somewhat late in the day, you discover the supposedly adjustable headlights aren’t, and have to be swopped (that’ll be €2000 monsieur) - with a similar sized charge to get the carte grise. In short, extra costs that’ll be argent down the drain - and as French insurers now won’t give you more than 12 months cover on UK plates, there’s no other option. Great.

All that’s left then is to enjoy a fleeting four wheel affair, before driving your shiny toy back to blighty. A sort of Brief Encounter if you will, minus the stiff upper lip and the steam (as long as the radiator holds together on the way back).

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