On our way back from Los Angeles two weeks ago, Matt and I stopped by a Mini dealership to test drive their slightly larger Clubman style. We've been arguing/debating/obsessing about a choice for a new car for me, my economy sedan being over 100,000 miles and approaching the point of requiring a sizable investment to keep it going for the next 100k. Matt has the SUV he chose when leaving the Navy, and last year we upgraded his motorbike to a snazzy, powerful model. Matt loves 2-door sporty cars, I like to look at them, but prefer the usefulness of boxy hatchbacks with an actual door to the back seat. Then I found out the Clubman has an extra rear-hinged door to facilitate access to the back seat... and good fuel efficiency... high safety ratings... maintenance included with the warranty... and it's sporty... and boxy... and...
"Bertie" for short. As in Wooster. The black & white interior made me think of spats, or Jeeves' black suit, but it's more of a Bertie.
Before the test drive I hadn't set foot in the driver's seat of a manual transmission since my last driving lesson in Edinburgh in August of 2001: chugging around the block in 1st or 2nd gear in a little diesel learner it was almost impossible to stall. I think I got to go up to third gear once. I got to drive Bertie home. 35 miles. At night. Through a construction zone. The freeways were fine, once in 5th or 6th gear it was just a question of avoiding the massive work trucks that kept trying to merge into me from alternating sides; getting to the freeway involved stalling at each traffic light and taking a few tries to get going again. I made sure I knew where the flashing emergency lights were before I trundled off the dealership lot, I even considered picking up "L" plates to warn those behind me, but I'm picking it up fast enough.
It's an adventure, we've got a radio ban until December, and I'm not commuting in it until I'm a little more practiced, I can't get the stickers to park at work until the official registration comes in the mail anyway. I haven't told my Mum, she's arriving in L.A. in a couple of weeks, so I'm just going to pick her up at the airport and watch her reaction when I put her bag in the snazzy new car.
I just wrote a blog post about my car. Yep, definitely an assimilated Californian.