Friday, 4 December 2009

What would you NEVER do?

I've found that one of the best things about getting older (yes, amazingly there are some that fall under the category of 'good, better, best'), is the fact that I have become less certain about long-held beliefs and started to realise that sometimes life is just too short and too uncertain to ever say 'never'. Even some of the most fiercely felt principles are 'adaptable' sometimes.

Sceptical? Let me walk you through how this can work...

For example, I have always said firmly that 'I will never drive a 4x4'. They're petrol guzzling, unneccessarily large vehicles that serve no real purpose in a town other than being a testament to conspicuous consumption, from my very prejudiced point of view. Living where I do (Chelsea-on-Thames), we're covered with the things like a rash, they're everywhere. Taking up two parking spaces. Cutting the corners on pavements. Being driven like weapons, and generally just pissing me off, to be honest.

That was my start point, anyway. However, as I've got older, my immovable statement mutated into 'I will never drive a 4x4.' (See how the rot sets in?) Because not everyone else thinks the same way I do (I know, it's crazy, but - sadly - true) some of our friends drive them. And sometimes accepting a lift is unavoidable. And boy, are they comfortable. Still wrong, of course, but every now and again, just about acceptable. Let's just hope that my balaclava'd comrades in the Anti-4x4 movement never spot me in the passenger seat...

Time moves on though, and recently my position has changed again. Now, it's 'I will never drive a 4x4 in London'. (Lo, how the mighty have fallen...) Because there's a possibility that once we finally get to Russia, expediency will win out and I'll find myself behind the wheel of one. I mean, there's the weather (ice and snow for 4 months of the year), the state of the roads (pot-holed, unfinished, constantly being renovated), the additional safety that driving a virtual tank gives you in an accident (I'll be driving on the opposite side of the road to the one I'm used to), and the uncertainty of the skill level of the drivers around you (I'm told that in Russia it's more normal to buy your driving licence than it is to take the exam).

Plus, I'll have been uprooted from my normal comfort zone, will be far from my beloved family, bessie mates, and unlimited re-runs of 'Friends' on E4, so who knows? I may just think 'Fxck it. Bring me that 4x4 - covered in chocolate. Because I'm worth it.'

I don't expect that to happen, by the way, but you get my point.

Anyway, this moving of moral goalposts is something I've written about on Powder Room Graffiti this week, with regard to an issue that often raises outraged hackles; that of the Fur Coat.

So, what would you NEVER do? I would be interested to know...


  1. If the driving in Russia is anything like that in Bosnia, you'll need it. But, driving cars on icy roads is no fun at all. Our trusty mondeo skids around all over the place. Given that Moscow if far colder for far longer, you may well legitimately be able to say that you need to drive it. Really, you have a real need for it (unlike in London where no one has a need for one ever).

    Alternatively you can give a normal car a go, and would probably find you get used to the driving and are absolutely fine (do get decent winter tyres though, they make such a difference). Depends on how strongly you are fixed to your principals!

  2. i think a 4x4 on russian roads could be a very good idea! i live about 60km from the russian border in Finland and our roads are quite hellish. Ice and snow for at least 5 months of the year, grit and pot holes or slimey mud and potholes for the rest. but 4x4's in london confuse me.

    me? I'll never do somethimg as dull as stay home on my 30th birthday watching tv and having an early night...oh, yeah, that was last night. its all rock and roll at our house. sigh.

  3. Some interesting comments about 4x4s here Potty. I wonder what you think of them.

    What would I never do? Well apart from the obvious - I will never fail to put my family first - I would never ever jump out of a plane for all the money in the world.

  4. I have a Land Rover Defender 110, the ultimate 4x4 in my opinion! But I am a farmer and I live in the country, in the middle of nowhere, so I have a good excuse. The fact that I can't drive it for 12 months because of my recent illness is a pain in the arse but my husband's getting the tax-worth out of it. £400 a year in tax and yes, they guzzle diesel. But, I wouldn't have anything else.

    CJ xx

  5. I drive a 4x4 and sometimes feel uncomfortable about the environmental impact I'm having - but my justification is that I live in a remote country lane which floods; last week I would have been trapped with my three children without my trusted 4x4.

    When are you going to Russia? I used to live in Kyrgyzstan. Not Russia but former Soviet Union and an extraordinary experience. I learnt to love all things Soviet!

  6. I also said I'd never let the husband have a 4x4, let alone drive one myself. We won't mention the RAV4 that sits outside the house and very much gets driven by me. But it's ok - my mum and nan who are very much against those Chelsea tractors are perfectly ok with the husband's choice of car.
    I also said I'd never get married or have kids and look where that got me.

  7. LOL I would get a 4x4 for Russia, you'll need the good tracking and grip. We have a few people drive them out here which makes hubby laugh as they clearly aren't the farmers (the wheels actually look clean).

    I said I would NEVER be conned into the whole organic food thing (I actually have an organic box delivered now) and I would NEVER lose interest in having a career and earning more money.

    We all change so much as we get older and have kids.

  8. well, i think you can be forgiven for shifting your ground, you know; i mean, there are circumstances here.

    and it still leaves plenty of room for the NEVER ABSOLUTES AND I MEAN IT.

    like i never intend to shove snow globes up my arse.

    i hear that's quite a fad these days, and i expect the result not anything like driving a 4x4.

  9. Very interesting take on the effect of ageing on our attitudes. Mine have gone the other way I think. With age comes wisdom, increased confidence, less concern about fitting in... and a resulting conviction that my opinions are very much correct !

    I drive a 4x4 of the most luxurious (in my opinion)and gas guzzling variety. I frequently have to transport two very large dogs, a baby/toddler and all the accompanying paraphernalia and even an estate car just wouldn't be up to it (I borrowed one to try). But I love it, dearly, and would give up just about anything else before shoot me ;-)

    As for what would I never do...I was absolutely never going to have kids...sleep depriving, life ruining, dirty, smelly things... and I lasted until I was 39 !

  10. I would never drive a 4x4 in London - or here for that matter, although almost everyone does. But in a place with bad roads and lots of snow? I think you're absolutely justified.

    Other things I would never do: Vote Tory or send my kids to boarding school. If I ever do either, please shoot me.

  11. I always said I would never drive a minivan (people carrier) but now I have a hinking great Toyota Sienna and I love it. Mind you I drive it so rarely that the man who serviced it last week said I wasn't even charging up the Battery!!
    And what wouldn't I do now - well, the way I'm feeling this morning- Drink too much on a school night. Agh!

  12. Hinking? That would be "honking".

  13. Brit, I think the jury's out until we get there. Oh, who am I kidding? Like we'll be able to afford one, even if I did cave!

    Heather, thanks for commenting and yes, 4x4's in London ARE confusing...

    RS, just like the fur coats over on PRG - not at all what I was expecting, to be honest! (I don't know - you try and write a contentious post and people agree with you!)

    CJ, aha, but you have a get out of jail free card because of where you live; it's the city-based ones I take issue with. You know; the ones that haven't seen a hill or a muddy track in their entire road-life.

    M&A, thanks for commenting and again, you have a free pass. If I lived down a flood-prone lane then who knows? And we're heading to Moscow - not exactly Russia (or even the former Soviet Union) in the Raw, I have to admit!

    Vic, well, that's the beauty of freedom of choice; being able to change your mind!

    WofaMummy, I do the organic veg box thing too. I also throw about 1/3 of it out every week when the new one arrives and I haven't got round to using it all...

    Grit, interesting. Haven't heard of that fad myself - maybe it's just in your neck of the woods?

    GM, thanks for commenting and you're not alone in your view (like I said, some of my friends share it!). As for the not having kids, didn't we all say that at some point?

    NVG, I don't think it will come to that!

    EPM, ah, the school-night drinks. They will give you a hinking great hangover, blast it.

  14. It's interesting that you make the fur coat point, because reading your post made me think about fur coats... When I lived in Russia I had a gorgeous sheepskin coat lent by a friend's mum who used to live in Canada. I loved it, especially when the temperature went down to -27 and stayed there. For a month. It was at that point that I decided that I would never criticise anyone in Russia (or Canada probably) for wearing a fur coat. Wouldn't do it here mind. But then here it's not necessary.

  15. I would never eat an Egg McMuffin. It is wrong on so many levels.

    However I said I would never be the sort of parent who lets their child crawl around a cafe disturbing other customers. I do and she does.

  16. I think I would never get a piercing. Not even in my ears.

    I think you're entitled a 4x4 in Russia. Even if it's just to feel safer in your castle up high.

  17. Thing is, you hit 40 and think "f*ck it, life's too short" and start to exert a boldness you did not even know was there. Or rather, you did, but were not quite so up front about it.

    What would I never do? Done it already. Draped a thinly-disguised veil around my stories of life with the awful company I was working for and some of the more despicable elements I had to work with, only to find that some things have a way of catching up with you.

    To cut a long story short: it's not ok for me to post anonymous blogs about said company, but it IS ok for them to allow my name to be slandered in a public forum AND try to thwart my new position via intimidation. Un - be - lieve - able. Or not. Always knew they were paranoid bastards.

    I guess what goes round comes round. It will be their turn soon enough.

    Sorry, what would I never do? Morph into one of them.

    LCM x

  18. I would also NEVER drive a 4x4, except, maybe, possibly, in America. Because, well, they're just any old cars over there, aren't they? Plus, they come in different sizes, dontchaknow? And plus, they're really, really comfy and you can see for miles. Darn, I've one and let something slip there, haven't I?!?

    PS, I believe I saw you at the zoo on Sunday. I wanted to say hi but small child didn't really give me the chance to do anything other than chase after him.

  19. I'm wth Brit & everyone else, you'll need 1 in Rusky. I wa steh same a su abt them. Then we moved to ALbania... Hello 4x4 & WELCOME! Protect me from all these bad, bad rds, bad drivers, bad traffic police confusing everyone dangerously, and take me up those rutted mtn rds wth no barriers, & through the flood waters. Oh yes, you'll need one. I must say htough, in slightly perverse style, I am also v glad ours is 13 yrs old, full of dings & scratches & until our 'MOT' last mth had a truly Albanian crack runing the entire length of the windscreen (at the bottom) We got it thru the MOT last yr but were told this yr it had to go. But that's why I like it, cos it's so very 'Ex-Pat' to drive a huge shiny, tinted windowed, 'Get Me, I'm Foreign' 4x4. Even Albanians can't believe we drive such a shabby monster.

  20. Like the new blog look! I know how you feel about this issue. Here we call them SUV's and I've sworn for years to never own one. Then we took a vacation in Texas and mother in law has the biggest on the planet. It was so easy to get baby in the carseat, never bumping her head once. In my little car it's feat of strength and skill to launch her body through the car into the seat without any collisions. Still not saying I'd get one myself but I totally can see where more then one child might be a motivating factor. Not that we are there - yet.

  21. my neck of the woods is the shires; we have all the dark sides of the big smoke, but without the style. round here a 4x4 team just rips up the local woods and chases deer.

  22. PlanB, sheepskin, huh? Maybe THAT's a way out of this dilemma - I have no problem eating lamb, after all...

    MB, thanks for commenting, and I'm with you on - both of those, actually...

    LCM, No! NO! Really? They really did that? Ah well - I think you're right to seek the moral high ground (you know that already), but god that must sting.

    BwB, sorry I missed you last Sunday; it was a bit busy, wasn't it. And I get your thinking on the 4x4's...

    Paradise, have you met my husband? Because being Dutch (they are typically 'careful' with money), if we do end up with one, that is just about exactly the type we'll end up with. Bearing in mind that we drive the shabbiest car in the neighbourhood in London, I don't see why it would be different in Moscow!

    Rachel, they're seductive, aren't they? Although just because something is comfortable / delicious, doesn't make it right...

    Grit, nice. I bet you love that.

  23. I've been thinking about this some more and thought I'd share that I never say never any more! I always said I'd never fly with young children and then I found myself on a flight to Kyrgyzstan with a three month old baby! My life has turned out completely differently to the one I planned and I'm very grateful for the experiences I've had from the opportunities I never imagined. You never know what life is going to throw at you!

  24. My life is so full of moral ambiguity that I can't even think of anything to write here. It comes with being married to a Professor of Ethics. It makes life way too complicated, all the time.


  25. Mine was television. Oh well, can't win them all.

  26. I always thought that what you actually want in Moscow is one of those cars where nothing can go wrong in minus 15 that can't be fixed with a sharp thump and a bent paperclip. The Moscvitches or whatever they're called. Anything with complicated electircs and not owned by a Canadian is probably doomed.

    Of course, I never drove meself there, and I am mainly going by my experience of how cars behave in the UK when the temperature hits zero.

    My husband bought his driving liscence. But he paid a reduced brib... sorry, fee, because he only failed part of the test.

  27. Oh and i said I'd never live in London. Ooops.


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