Keys and keyed

It’s certainly been an interesting week. Interesting in the Confucian understanding of the word – you know, “May you live in interesting times” that is.

As many of you know I have recently indulged my penchant for big cats with the purchase of what I imagine to be my last Jaguar. And for the most part, pertinent since it is their inheritance that is being consumed, the kids have been supportive. Their reasoning, along the lines of a happy dad is a better dad, is sound.

In the light of my many recent vicissitudes with the DVLA, I am aware that my driving licence is no longer a given and, having stared into that licenceless abyss twice previously, I treasure it all the more. I will retain the Micra for more mundane driving and use the Jag for excursions. The Micra will go to Tesco, the Jag to the coast.

Like all my previous Jags (all two of them), the new one is not without its quirks. It drives beautifully but needs the airbag sensor, air conditioning, CD multi-changer and clock repairing. Nothing that affects the running of the car you understand, merely cosmetic matters. But that’s always been the way with Jags – if you want something that works all the time with ruthless German efficiency buy a Beemer, a marque of Teutonic engineering that never fails but, for me at least, feels rather like a combination of laptop and videogame. But Beemers fail in other areas. They do not become that throbbing, breathing embodiment of a living thing that is a Jaguar. William Lyons said the motorcar was as near as we can get to a living, breathing entity. He said “motorcar” but, as their principal designer, he meant Jaguars.

Driving a Jaguar is the building of a relationship, a love affair if you will. Whilst a BMW is a domestic robot, always obedient and well-behaved, a Jaguar is a wilful creature, untamed and passionate. And that passion never leaves you untouched. They constantly surprise, sometimes disappoint but never leave you untouched. The BMW is your wife/husband, the Jaguar is your lover.

And I have learned, as if I needed any further education, just how expensive Jaguar motoring can be. When I bought the car, it came with two keys. One did not work so I telephoned the local Jaguar dealership to ask about a replacement. Obviously these keys are slightly more complex than your average house key for instance, with separate blade and brain parts. So I was braced for what I thought might be perhaps £50. Maybe even £100? £200? Surely not? No, believe it or not, the final price for a key was, including the VAT (why do places quote the price and VAT separately when we all have to pay the VAT?) an eye watering £425. I just laughed and put the phone down. I thought it was a prank.

Stop and think about that for a moment. We are talking about a key for goodness sake. You could buy a car for that kind of money. Nor is the key made of gold and platinum, encrusted with precious stones and presented in a carrying case of Siberian ermine and Tuscan leather. It doesn’t play selections from Italian opera, offer lifestyle advice or fragrance the environment with sandalwood. No, it’s just a key.

So for the time being I will hope that my one key suffices. At the very least it will encourage me to remember where put the key rather than experience that almost routine feeling every morning trying to retrace my steps and where I might have put the keys the night before. That will have to wait until I have saved up the money and emptied my piggy bank. Yes, I know the key has to be programmed, personalised and paired to the specific car but that applies to many other cars. Frankly I think they are taking the piss. I shall look at alternatives.

If I was an unhappy Jaguar owner on Wednesday, I was doubly unhappy on Thursday when some vandal chose to exercise his creative talents and vandalise my car. That his chosen weapon was a car key seems particularly apt bearing in mind my rejection of the £425 key. I emerged from the local supermarket, having just briefly nipped out to get a four pack of yoghurt (peach as I remember but that’s not important), to see someone close to my car for no apparent reason. I had a bad feeling immediately and discreetly took down his registration number. As he drove off, I noticed the scrapes. A sinewave running more or less the length of the car with some parts deeper than others. Either way utterly gratuitous.

I am not going to waste time asking the usual “why do people do this?” Let’s not beat about the bush. The answer is simple enough. Because they are just nasty little petty minded a****holes, choking on their own envy and unable to channel that emotion into any action other than destruction.

Perhaps they had abusive parents. Maybe they had unsuccessful potty training. Or perhaps they had just been charged £425 for a blasted key and felt it necessary to express that disappointment.

I feel bad even mentioning it. There are so many other injustices in this currently timorous world. Children starve, crops fail, icecaps melt, forests burn. In the grand scheme of things, some scratches on the side of my car will not limit the amount of damage being vested on the planet by man and other high hominids. Mind you, these hominids would struggle to understand “no claims bonus”, “policy excess” and “limited liability”, all of which I shall find myself addressing in the next few weeks.

Okay, rant over. And breathe.