And now, as promised, the long-awaited guest post by my dear friend at sweettenorbull, who hails from Northern England and has a wry and poignant story to tell about one of the great loves of his life.
It’s Not Over Yet, Baby Blue
I bought my first car on a crisp, cool late September afternoon. I managed to haggle the price down from 3999 pounds to 3990 pounds: ‘That’s what was on the sign,’ I explained. I signed the papers, paid by card (four grand on card!) and took the keys. Then, just for the hell of it, I drove my wife to the coast. In the evening, we headed back on the Coast Road between Tynemouth and Newcastle – doing 70mph, 71 even, maybe 72 – on the outside lane. ‘You b******s,’ I ranted, at no-one in particular. ‘Look at me now you stupid b******s,’ I went on, only half-ironically. I said some other stupid stuff like this and my wife laughed. Then she told me to shut up.
I was thirty years old.
And, yes, I know what Mrs Thatcher said about men over twenty-six still getting the bus being losers. I’ve heard it, okay? I know. But hey, I’d thought, that reflects her values, not mine – I know there’s more to life than materialism and consumption and, erm, success. Now I wondered, well, now I’m thirty and I have a car, I can maybe slip into the non-loser club through the back door, even though those aren’t my values and, anyway, having lived mostly in big cities up till then, I hadn’t needed a car, strictly speaking.
Though I hadn’t quite put it that way to my father-in-law when we met for the pre-wedding interview. ‘Oh yes, I can drive,’ I said, ‘just, living in big cities up till now, I’ve saved my money for other things.’ My fiancée translated, I squirmed, she elaborated – we’d be getting one of course. So then we had to talk type. He had something big and Korean, with electric seat recliners and side-mounted missile launchers. We were thinking about a Honda Civic.
But we didn’t buy a Honda Civic. We bought a sky-blue Citroën C3. French, yeah, and don’t forget the diacritical mark on the e. I’d always wanted a car with a diacritical mark somewhere in it. The one in Citroën is a real conversation starter, though one yet to have started a conversation: ‘Why are there two little dots over the e?’ someone is supposed to ask me. ‘That is known as an accent tréma, and it’s there to show that the e is a separate vowel sound, so the o and the e are not to be pronounced together; hence ‘cit-ro-en’, not ‘citrun,’ I would happily add, if only I were asked. Who needs electric seat recliners when you have couture? And the colour? Well, I’d say, my wife liked the colour – her first choice was bright pink, so this was a compromise. But actually I liked the colour.
Somewhere on the A1 to Durham we settled on the name ‘Baby Blue’. It might have been my wife who came up with this moniker, so it’s just a coincidence that it references one of my favourite Bob Dylan songs, ‘It’s All over Now, Baby Blue’. It’s one of those songs – ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ is another – where Dylan is sort of lamenting and sort of saying ‘I told you so’ to a female friend who has – through some fault of her own, it is implied – fallen on hard times. Dylan’s Baby Blue is a chic Bohemienne who seems to be getting evicted from her flat:
All your seasick sailors, they are rowing home
All your reindeer armies, are all going home
The lover who just walked out your door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor
The carpet, too, is moving under you
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue
She sounds like a metaphor for the collapse of the hippy dream – a bit premature, perhaps, considering it was released in 1965, but then Dylan always was a perspicacious kind of fellow. Of course, when my wife suggested ‘Baby Blue’, she meant by it a cute colour for boys, maybe the second cutest colour after pink. She knew nothing of this chic Bohemienne who’d annoyed Bob Dylan (and possibly broken his heart) then been abandoned and evicted. Even so, I couldn’t help feel it was just slightly inauspicious.
And so it proved.
Oh, don’t worry: we haven’t been evicted or abandoned or anything. Maybe it’s worse though.
Baby Blue is sick…
To be continued…