I was looking through some old photos and there was one of my dad and myself standing in front of a Mark 10 Jaguar, a gargantuan fuel-guzzling beast doing about 12 to the gallon around town and lucky for twenty on a run. My girlfriend Vivienne took the photograph on her Kodak Pocket Instamatic 100. It was 1980 near Stokeinteignhead in Devon; we’d parked up for beer and cigarettes on our way to visit a pal of dad’s who was on remand in Exeter prison for contempt of court relating to a bankruptcy.
I realised my dad was the personification of his car for a considerable period of time. I always suspected in the early 80s, after he came off worse in a pub fight, he reined in this identity of ex-boxer nightclub doorman and happily thereafter drove a white Cortina his sister had bought him. He grandiosely gave the Jag to me and by this time it was in need of work. It had been parked on an allocated space outside his flat which he had sold while I was living in Madrid. Eventually it was scrapped – the engine a 4.2 as opposed to the earlier 3.8 – was transplanted into the E-Type of a carpet shop owning jazz drummer called Arthur. Coincidently the motor had been first registered in 1967 to a carpet business in Brighton before finding itself in the hands of those tooting and looting south coast knocking funsters: The Brighton Boys.
In every man there exists the fear of turning into their dad and for myself, being the self-obsessed person I am, I started questioning my own car relationship – what it possibly signifies, practicalities versus justification.