Monday 22 June 2020

The car is dead. Long live the...?

My car
My car is probably - not certainly, there is still one test to do - dead, or at least beyond economic repair. All that is wrong is a mystery fault in the electronic control system - the chassis, engine, transmission and most of the bodywork are all sound - but, even if we had a certain diagnosis, it's likely that the cost of replacement parts would be unaffordable. 

It's a wrench. I really, really like that car. It is undoubtedly the most enjoyable car I've ever owned, and I have hugely enjoyed owning it. But it also leaves me faced with a very difficult decision: whether to aim to replace the car with another car, or with an electic assist cargo bike.

If I was as good a human being as I like to play on Twitter, this would be a no brainer. We cannot afford to be burning fossil fuel for personal transport, but also, equally, we cannot afford to be burning fossil fuel to build new 1.5 ton personal transport vehicles for everyone, whether or not they're electric. In any case, I cannot afford the capital cost of an electric car, and I struggle to afford the running cost of a fossil fuel car - it's more than a third of my total income. So the only car I could conceivably afford would be another elderly fossil fuel car.

The capital cost of an electric assist cargo bike would of course be more than the capital cost of an elderly car, but it would pay that cost back in reduced running costs over at most three years. What it wouldn't have is weather protection, or passenger carrying capacity.

Today, one day after the summer solstice, I had a dental appointment in Castle Douglas, ten miles away. It was raining steadily, and the wind was gusting to 45 mph (72 kmh). Cycling would have been very unpleasant, even with electric assist. High winds and heavy rain are not at all unusual here - not so common at this time of year, but very common in winter.

Fortunately, today, I was able to borrow a friend's car. Friends have also offered to help me buy a car. I have good friends, and I'm grateful to them, but I don't want to be someone who lives off charity.

I suffer from depression, and that isn't going to change. Life, for me, in winter, is quite hard anyway. If I make it too hard, it will not be worth continuing. There are folk - who I care about - who will be hurt when I choose to die, and so, although that is how I hope I'll eventually go, I'd like to put it off as long as reasonably possible. Making my life tolerable is thus a duty which, to some extent, I have to others. Yes, that sounds self-serving - to an extent it feels self-serving - but it's also true.

If there were a car club or similar scheme in the village it would solve my dilemma - I rarely need a car more than one day a week - but there isn't and it would take at least months of work and a lot of effort to set one up, and I don't feel I have that energy.

Altogether this is a problem I really wish I didn't have to face just now.

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The fool on the hill by Simon Brooke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License