Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Freedom Removed

3rd November, 2009

If you were following what I was up to yesterday, you will know that my car went in for its MOT in the morning, and I was quite unhappy in the afternoon to find out that it had failed. Not only that, but it had failed quite spectacularly.

3 failures on the front suspension, 6 on weakened chassis due to corrosion, and one on the headlights shining too low… which the garage wanted to charge me £20 to fix and would only take about 30 seconds at the most with a screwdriver and a tape measure.

So its new car hunting for me. Why? Its quite simple really - I don’t want to lose the freedom.

Over the past nearly 3 years I’ve been lucky enough to have both a driving license and a car in order to use it with. It has given me the ability to go where I want, when I want, with who I want, without having to wait around on anyone else.

And that freedom is something I’m not willing to give up easily.

I’ve joked before that I’m scared of buses. Not entirely true, but I’d rather not take them if I can drive, simply because its flexible. And some would say its more expensive, and that its worse for the environment, and a whole host of other reasons why I should take the train/bus/walk/cycle or whatever.

But the sheer fact of the matter is this. In the last 3 years, I’ve done tens of thousands of miles crossing the entire country going to see various people, go to various events, and do stuff that I just never ever would have done without the car.

Fine, I could have got to all these places with public transport, but I bet it would have been more expensive, less pleasant, would have taken at least 50% more time and definitely far less enjoyable.

And don’t try and pull that one on me - no matter how many times you or anyone else say that it would take just as long for me to get from Reading to Felixstowe on the train than it would take to drive (even with references in a timetable), it would always, every time, be faster to drive. Not only have Top Gear proved that the car is always faster than even the fastest trains, but you’re missing the key point - British trains are never on time. Not only that but there are some places where trains just don’t go, e.g. where there are no train tracks (sounds obvious really, no?).

So, new car shopping for me it is. I have a funny feeling this is going to be costing me money for several months to come.