Can anyone remember how to wash a car?
Time. Time is an absolutely stunning piece of work by Hans Zimmer, from the soundtrack to the film equally stunning film, Inception. It is a masterful track that frequents the vast majority of my playlists. Apart from that screaming thrash metal one, obviously. Time is also a thing. A very important thing, actually. We plan, work and play according to what those hands are pointing at. Sometimes it’s favourable to us, however, most of the time it seems to be passing way too fast, and with a lack of time comes stress. Time, it seems, is something that we don’t seem have enough time to worry about. Time is scarce, time is against us.
Remember those days when an entire Sunday afternoon was devoted to car cleaning? I do. That always-tangled green hose pipe that never quite fitted correctly on the tap. The huge yellow sponge that drank half the bucket at a time. The pain of finding something that could clean between the gaps on alloy-wheels effectively. A quick vacuum as the car dried, a splattering of flash-dash on the steering wheel for added slippery-drama driving to work on Monday morning whilst high on lemon-fumes, and a laborious shammy which no-one quite understood how to use. One car, cleaned and ready for the coming week. Perhaps the following week was the annual holiday to the seaside, and that could easily justify another hour of buffing with a dab of turtle wax. A further hour on top if one didn’t want white-crust in every nook and cranny.
I could literally drive from town to town on a Sunday this week and not find this happening, anywhere, at all. No sir, the days of a man (or woman) tending to and devoting that time to a car are long gone. It comes back to time. Who could possibly justify spending four hours slaving away on something they feel no connection to, when it can be casually driven into a fully-manned car wash, washed, vacuumed and dried by our Eastern-European savours within half an hour for a mere £10?
It’s an odd thing. We have more car-cleaning products on the market today than at any other time in the history of the humble motor-car. There are now more companies producing luxury cleaning gear than ever before. There are more cars on the road than ever before. And yet, the number of people who actually take the time to physically wash a car? Ok, so I don’t have the exact figures, but I bet it's well less than 15%.
Ok, so sketchy, invented-on-the-spot figures might not cut the mustard but it's a known fact that Halfords have reported sales of car-cleaning products down most years. Not that this is in any way surprising. Our lives are packed full of things that we need to do, and that we should be doing. Places to go, people to see. The humble car is no longer a source of pride and excitement, it is a mode of transport and nothing more. It is a mode of transport that a few owners never even consider. Back when I was growing up, the humble motor-car was one of the family. Just as we had a bath on a Sunday, so did it. For many dads, it was another child and just as needy. It required battery electrolyte top-ups. Anti-freeze adjustments. Carb-cleaning. A weekly bath. Cars today do not and cannot demand such attention. We wouldn’t stand for it. In 2018, I could walk into any dealership, jump into any car on sale today, and drive it five-times around the earth without any issue. In 1980, I would have stopped three-times for various top-ups before I even hit Dover.
I think my point here, and it is straying somewhat, is that society finds itself too busy for mundane tasks like car cleaning. I also think that we have lost the connection between man and car. The role of the car has always been the same – to get us to our destination, but sadly, it’s role within the family has diminished somewhat. Barring the classic car owners out there, I think its pretty universal.