I've played the wild rover

A THOUSAND words is worth one picture, or so the ancient journalists' proverb goes. So let me paint you a picture. I was young, much thinner and just as handsome.

A THOUSAND words is worth one picture, or so the ancient journalists' proverb goes.

So let me paint you a picture.

I was young, much thinner and just as handsome.

Ipswich and my later life as a journalist hadn't ever crossed my mind.

I was a mere 18 living in a fashionable part of south London - it wasn't then but it is now - and I had thick hair.

What was to later to become the trusty rusty Rover, was a new motor. The paintwork gleamed, the engine purred, the radio worked, the window didn't rattle and she had done just a few hundred on the clock.

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It was pre-congestion charge and driving was easier then anyway.

I was a regular along the Kings Road, where I once hit a taxi on my way to the supermarket, and my new car was often found outside some of London's most famous nightspots; Ye Olde Spotted Horse in Putney, to name but one.

But those far flung halcyon, green and salad days are over I am old now and today dear readers a large chunk of my youth is about to leave my life.

Heartwrenching though it is, a decision has been reached.

The trusty rusty Rover, my constant friend, my one true companion, my lovely car which has driven from Derbyshire in the north to Exeter in the south, to Wales in the west and Aldeburgh in the east, is going to the great scrap yard in the sky.

Dented and dusty, tired and broken, trusty rusty has been taken off the road. She is retired.

It might sound melodramatic, and melodrama, dear readers, is I admit one of my many faults as often pointed out by plain speaking photographer friend Lucy, but I cannot be alone in feeling a twinge of sadness, a moment of regret as I say goodbye to my car.

Only I know its foibles and fancies.

Only I know its needs a constant supply of industrial strength coolant to stop it blowing up.

Only I know how to start it in the cold and that it never has really liked the damp.

Only I know how to wind down the broken window.

It's awful to see the number plate disappear into the crush of the crusher.

But the future's bright and my driving career is not over. I haven't given up on my daily fight with the Ipswich one way system. Oh no.

It might not be a Maserati as befits my wannabe celebrity status and the trusty rusty Rover is dead but today I exclaim an anthem new “long live the small blue Polo.”.

And as Evening Star senior-manager-cum-newspaper-layout-guru Neil, known in the office as Sir Neil, said: “Well to be honest James it was just an old man's car wasn't it?”

MY pub-cum-bingo friend Kerry tells me she dislikes the karaoke and refuses to sing.

“I'm just a hair-brush-diva,” she tells me as I urge her to belt out a popular Petula Clark number.

“And who's Petula Clark anway? Is she dead or something?”

I must be getting old.

I NOTED with feigned interest the other day that Zara Philips was made “sports personality” - a contradiction in terms if ever there was - of the year.

I'm sure she's a lovely girl but I don't know much about her apart from the fact she's rich and horsy and wears nice clothes. What's her personality like?

SINCE disgracing myself with the Ipswich Operatic and over Dramatic Society's recent Christmas party where I became slightly “over refreshed” thanks to a high degree of nervous tension mixed with an insatiable thirst, I have somewhat calmed myself.

Only to be excited again by the announcement that after the forthcoming production of Titanic the IODS will be performing The Full Monty musical in the autumn of 2007.

Lucy, my plain speaking photographer friend, immediately suggested I go for the part of the fat man who gets wrapped in cellophane. I wasn't impressed. My theatrical friend Mike, who works in insurance during the day and on a Tuesday and Thursday night turns into a poor Irishman aboard Titanic who falls in love with another poor person Kate played by the plain speaking Lucy, tells me he won't strip down to his g-string, well not unless the part absolutely demands it.

I feel much the same way. I shall definitely leave my hat on.