Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The third quarter

For reasons I won't bore you with, we are in the market for a second car. It's a pain, especially as we had taken a conscious decision in 2009 to be a one-car family. But needs must. The bottom line is that we're looking for something relatively cheap to buy, cheap to run and yet capable, should the need arise, of reliably making the occasional 300-mile round trip.

Mrs Amusements also wants the car to be "fun". As small-engined boxes for three grand often are, naturally.

Finding a car that fits the bill is proving tremendously difficult but that's not your concern, and the only reason I mention the subject is as an excuse to relate the following. I'd stopped to browse the forecourt of a local car dealer. Within a minute of my arrival, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared. With lit cigarette in hand. Minus one point straight away for that, but nevertheless I listened to his spiel. I explained what I was looking for and he steered me around what he thought met the criteria. When we came to a tidy but unremarkable Vauxhall Agila, Johnny Salesman said:

"These are very popular with middle-aged drivers because you sit a little higher up."

Am I to infer then that he viewed me as middle-aged? Now I had a cap on, because it was raining, and so he couldn't see how bald I am. In fact, the only obvious clue to my being the age I am (44, since you ask) is the amount of grey in my beard. Yet he, who I would estimate to be in his early sixties, placed me in the middle aged bracket without hesitation.

I was a little taken aback by this, and needless to say I won't be buying a car from him (quite apart from the age quip and the smoking throughout his pitch, he was oleaginous and his cars were over-priced). Bottom line though is I guess he's right. Wikipedia has a stab at defining middle age as:

"...around the third quarter of the average life span of human beings..."

Now bear with me whilst I get a bit boring: average life expectancy is a complex beast - it's no good just Googling it. You need to take into account the year you were born, the region you were born and live in, ethnicity, a whole host of factors. So let's keep it simple. Let's just say I can expect to live to 70. The third quarter of my life would begin at 35. Similarly, an age of 80 would imply the onset of middle age at 40. So, working backwards, to not be middle aged I would have to expect to live to 90... and even then, middle age would officially begin at my next birthday.

In other words, however much I kid myself, I'm getting old. I take some small measure of comfort in the fact that you are too.

Later that day, I found what I thought was a potential candidate in the great second car hunt: small, cheap to buy, cheap to run, a nice shade of blue, a few frivolous fripperies to lighten up the mere experience of being in the car. Daring to get excited at the prospect of finally ending the interminable search, I pointed it out to Mrs Amusements on the Auto Trader website.

"It's alright," she said, "except for the colour."

"What's wrong with the colour?" I asked.

"It's old-man-blue," came the reply.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

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