Monday, January 07, 2013

On Doing Without

I have read recently of someone whose mobile telephone went on the blink for a period of time. The owner discovered the great pleasure of no longer being in constant contact with acquaintances and business colleagues. Never having owned such an object, I can understand the pleasure they took in their temporary isolation from this world of over-communication.
            Again, two men that I have known, who both made their fortunes, ran their empires from the office or over convivial lunchtime meetings – both abhorring the use of a mobile telephone.
            I, or we, have owned a car for many years. Living in the country with poor public transport, it was an essential adjunct to everyday, family life.
            On moving to London again, some 24 years ago, I gave away my car to a son, and was happy to do without it.
            Now, after much the same period of sharing my wife’s splendid Toyota, Rav 4, four wheel drive car, we have decided to do without it, and she has given it away to a niece, who needs it for broadcasting work around the country.
            Our main use for a car in London was for shopping when heavy items were involved, or when driving to Newhaven for the Channel ferry to Dieppe. There we indulged ourselves with good living for a few days, and returned to London with the back of the car filled with low cost, but very drinkable wine (144 bottles being our record).
            For much of recent times the car has been parked nearby, lying idle, and used mainly for bulk shopping and to re-charge the battery.
            A car is an expense and a worry. If we hear of a crash of metal outside, we no longer fear for the car’s bodywork. And as for the expense, what money we have saved – with licence fee, AA, insurance, MOT, service, repairs, tyres, parking fees, petrol, and the obligatory accoutrements for safety and foreign travel – we could take a cab almost every day of the year.
            It is true we have lost our lovely breaks in Dieppe, but what Dieppe has to offer, so has London. And we have been shocked on each recent visit to France by the inflation of prices all round. So we may pay a bit more when eating out grandly in London, but most things are cheaper here.
            Now, all the paperwork and cost of a car have vanished – and with it the worry involved.
            To simplify life is much to be desired.