Like, yet not like…

If you are going to have your car squashed by a lorry, then I heartily recommend my local supermarket. Admitting liability instantly, their chosen intermediaries expedited the whole process, leaving me barely chance to mourn the Silver Bullet when they announced her official demise. The only fly in the proverbial ointment was the mail service that delayed the settlement cheque quite unreasonably.

However… the deed is done, the Bullet is no more, gone to some faraway scrap yard to donate her organs to other, less mangled vehicles. She goes with my thanks and affection.

The hire car, driven only with the aid of the pillow from the spare bed that allowed me to reach the pedals, went with a kind of relief, grateful as I had been for its temporary presence. I had found a replacement a week before and, on a dark and chilly night, when the moon was low and the stars bright, my younger son drove me to pick her up.

They say that you should do something to get your heart pumping every day. That qualified. Driving her home in the dark has to be one of the scariest things I have done in a long time. And that is odd considering I will drive pretty much anything without batting an eyelid.

Was it such a vastly different car? Er…no. That was the problem. In one of those illustrative incidents where, from a seeming disaster (like, say, having your car squashed by a truck), you find that a doorway opens to better things, I had replaced the Bullet with her identical twin… except that the new one had led a much healthier lifestyle and was in far better shape.

Where my poor, tired car had rattled and creaked as much as her owner and was in dire need of having as much as she was worth spent on her innards after the thousands of miles we have done together. It was odd that I had been ruminating on that, wondering if I could justify the cost or would have to replace her as I drove to work just before the fatal incident. Odd too, as Stuart had pointed out, that we had already written her out of the books in the last volume of our travels, But ‘n’ Ben.  On the other hand, her replacement has been beautifully looked after and professionally maintained. She’s also done less miles than the Bullet had when we first  joined forces. Things work that didn’t… things close that were reluctant… the engine purrs… and everything is exactly where it should be and exactly the same…

Except it isn’t.

The clutch actually works… the gears feel different, the engine and brakes respond differently and the lights that shine on the road illuminate a different view. Of course it would be so… cars are as unique as people. And that was the problem.

A completely different car would not have fazed me at all. This one did… not because of any fault with the vehicle, but because of my own unconscious expectations. My body has the habit of driving ‘this’ car and reacted to the change as if the vehicle had suddenly  revealed itself as an impostor. The near-panic I felt because of the unfamiliarity of the supposedly familiar was both unsettling and revealing.

I had to ask myself how often I have made those unconscious judgements that include expectations that may, or may not, be fulfilled? Not just me, but how often do any of us make that silent leap to presupposition based solely on  the looks or what we think we know? Bad enough to do that to a car… but we do the same things with our fellow creatures and to people too.

stu's carl wark standing cross castleton black shade pics 092


Not just other people either… that was the conclusion I reached. We do it to ourselves. We are, quite obviously, the same person were were ten, twenty years ago… although we know we are not. Daily usage reminds us of the changes in the way our bodies function as we grow older, but what reminds us of the way we may have grown? How many old fears, ancient habits and  impressions, both positive and negative of ourselves do we carry still, simply because we have always known them and so expect their presence… and in expecting, become our own prophets?

How many of those negative beliefs about ourselves are based on other people’s opinions too? Or our perception of their opinions?

I have to wonder how we would each see ourselves if the familiarity could be taken away as suddenly as it was when driving the new-old car for the first time? I know that the extreme events we sometimes face may bring us up short and make us reassess many things, but we do not need to wait for trauma to kick us awake…we can wake ourselves by drawing back the veil of habit, thus realising our own true potential, rather than basing our self image on outmoded ideas that may not even have been ours to begin with.

It seemed the little car was already earning her keep…

As I drove slowly through the pitch black of deserted country lanes, my lights caught a glimpse of something moving and I slowed to a halt, watching in delight as a young badger wandered out into the road, explored a little, then shot off at a surprising speed when he realised he was not alone. It is the only time I have ever properly been able to watch a badger in the wild… all others have been minimal glimpses or the sadness of their crumpled bodies beside the road. I took the gifted encounter as a good sign that the little car will be a good friend.

There are a couple of differences between the Silver Bullet and her successor though… As yet we are barely acquainted and this one has not yet told us her name… and she isn’t silver.


Photo: S Austin

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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35 Responses to Like, yet not like…

  1. Having recently replaced a beloved older car with what I hope will be a beloved newer car that is very similar, I know what you mean. The new one feels very much like the old one. Same basic size and the seats feel the same. But then again, it’s different. The entire transmission is different and … doesn’t have gears. For someone who has never driven a gearless car and wasn’t even aware they existed, this was a bit jarring. You can’t feel the gear shift because … there is none. The tachometer DROPS while the car is accelerating — up a hill. Run that through your knowledge of physics and say Whaaaa?

    But we’ve had ours now since the end of October … and it is beginning to feel like home. It has it’s own groans and little rattly sounds and eventually, the lack of actual gears is bound to become less weird. I think I’m going to like our little Red Rover which replaces OUR Silver Bullet. I’m betting you will learn to love yours, too and very soon. The badger told me so.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Badgers are wise creatures 😉
      It does feel very strange when the same is just that tiny bit different, but at least I am not taking The Wheels for granted. I doubt if I could 🙂 I never got on with driving an automatic transmission… I had a huge thing years ago, and though I know the technology has come on since then, I still don’t fancy the idea… even though my left foot would be happier without a clutch to press 🙂


  2. acflory says:

    What a fascinating post. I have a very old Toyota Corolla called Jimmy, who? which? came close to dying just after Christmas. While he was getting fixed, I had to share the Offspring’s Subaru – a nice car but definitely not an extension of my arms and legs the way Jimmy is. I suspect I paid more conscious attention to the road during the three or so weeks I was without my car than I had in decades. Now your post is making me pay more conscious attention to my life, not a bad thing at all. 🙂


  3. They say it takes around 5,000 miles to become totally familiar with a new car.. We had an aged box like rovers when we got married and one day I was at the bus stop with a colleague in Liverpool and saw a similar one pass in the traffic. I turned to my friend and saie ‘that looks like Henrietta’ and she replied.. Oh Sally you know the name of all the cars….. ours currently do not have names but if I manage to get a that MR2 MK1 it will be christened with ceremony. As to paying attention to driving.. this is Spain!!


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I remember the roads in Spain…and I wasn’t a driver back then 🙂
      I don’t usually name my cars, they just acquire their names as we go. I’m waiting to see what this little green thing will end up as 🙂
      I have to say I prefer the MK2… the MK is far better on the road, but the MK2 is just so pretty…


  4. jenanita01 says:

    I miss driving a car so much, and your post reminded me of a time I drove a new car home one night. It was raining miserably, and not only couldn’t I find the wipers, everything else was totally alien. Like you, it was one of the scariest things I ever did!


  5. TanGental says:

    New car terror. Yep get it every time. And yes why not some uniformity?


  6. Judy Martin says:

    Your new car looks lovely, Sue and is a great colour. I am sure you will soon become best friends once you have got used to her personality 🙂


  7. Mary Smith says:

    Wishing you many happy adventures in the new ‘bullet’, which looks very lovely.


  8. I’m glad you have found friendship with your new car. Now, for a name. I hope he/she lets you know what they prefer to be called.


  9. reocochran says:

    Ooh, I like the color, Sue! I am excited for your new adventures, but understand the adjustment to changes in cars. For me, I spend a lot of moments “ruminating” or analyzing things and admittedly people. I try to figure out why they choose their actions or sometimes hurtful words. I have admitted, my expectations have been too high sometimes in finding a partner. I give lots of chances, trying to adjust, sometimes I accommodate too much, changing or altering myself. Then, as in my last 13 year marriage, wondering where I had lost mysef?
    In the world, it would be nice if we could hope for improvements snd thus, through our hope and positivity, change would follow.
    Meanwhile, enjoy your new ride! Smiles, Robin


  10. Running Elk says:

    lol The company has three “identical” pool cars. They are no more than a month older than each other, have impeccable service histories, and, yet you would hardly know it…

    One, “Bertha”, is a joy to drive. She all but gets there herself, and you just sit back and enjoy the journey. The second, “Suzie”, can be a bit grumpy in the morning, and requires gentle treatment (kind of like three coffees) until she gets going. Finally, “Delilah”, just does her own thing; dawdles up the hills, ignoring any sense of urgency unless she is allowed to remain in third gear, often decides to weave across to the soft verge, for a closer look at the flowers one presumes, as a result of which she has acquired several badges of honour in the form of dints, scrapes and a really annoying squeal when turning left.

    For some reason, Delilah just sits there for most of the time as the other two rack up the miles. One colleague has even posited that she has something evil about her, and has been known to leap through hoops in order to avoid ever taking her out. The storeman says, “It’s only a machine. Machines don’t have personalities!”

    He must be having a laugh…!!! 😀


  11. Eliza Waters says:

    Nice, shiny new wheels! Congrats.
    The mind is an interesting thing, isn’t it?
    Did you know that Badger symbolizes resourcefulness, fearlessness, hard work and tenacity? Sounds like you! 🙂


  12. macjam47 says:

    It’s a beautiful color, Sue. Glad you were able to get something as reliable as this sounds. Enjoy tootling around in your new wheels.


  13. Widdershins says:

    That ‘familiar but not familiar’ thing was a common theme in SF stories about robots. Humans are fine with them until they start looking ‘too’ human.


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