Saying farewell to an old friend

The Land Rover in a field
The old Land Rover in it's natural habitat

For a long time I’ve refrained from letting my passion for cars creep into this blog. If you came here hoping to read about digital, government or health look away now.

This week is a very sad week for me. As well as leaving the Department of Health, I’m saying goodbye to one of my prized toys: a Land Rover. Not just any old car, this is a slightly smoky example, with a shiny chassis, lovingly rebuilt by my Dad and driven by us for the past the past ten years or so. In the intervening years I’ve owned more reliable, much faster and more modern cars.

I’ve been lucky: lapped a Ferrari at Goodwood, thrashed a Mini Cooper across France, glided across the length and breadth of England in a Jaguar and cruised through Cape Cod in a Mustang.

But the Land Rover has always been in the background, deployed at a moment’s notice for camping trips, house moves and on occasion, trips to expensive restaurants where it raised more than a few eyebrows squeezed between the middle-England Mercedes and BMWs. Most memorable have been the annual camping trips to Dorset where the Land Rover ferried children across meadows, dragged firewood back again and provided a handy platform for a shave; using the big flat wing and door mirror.

When the snow arrived this car – the basic design of which hasn’t changed since 1949 – delivered a consignment of computers to a school for the visually impaired in Redhill, and towed a stranded Sainsbury’s lorry from a drift. And it never broke down. Not once.

But times change and the Land Rover can’t be justified any more. A deafening top speed of 60mph (with the speedo reading ‘Made in England’) and 2.5 seats don’t make economic sense when the car is used for just a few glorious weeks each year.

So, here’s the tenuous connection to the strap line of this blog: will I feel as emotional as this about my iPad or any other technology in the future? I doubt it. Modern technology doesn’t offer a bond of adventure between user and tool like an old vehicle does.