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The AA Magazine arrived the other day. No, not that AA, although if it had been, it might have been somewhat less depressing that the one I got, which sported a cover line promoting a story headlined ‘Dangers for Older Drivers’.
I’d never considered myself an older driver until last week. In fact I was rather determinedly pursuing the idea of buying an Alfa Romeo GTV coupe, and was only dissuaded by the fact that the dog, who is older than I, would find it difficult to get in the back.
The truth is, I would possibly have found it difficult to get in the front, or rather out of the front, since my previous rather low slung car occasionally – well, only on a bad day – elicited a sound which could unkindly be described as a grunt.
I’d spent weeks looking for a car that I could enter and exit without making any sort of noise other than a squeal of delight, and was finally forced to settle, I am embarrassed to admit, for something that brought forth more of a sigh.
I sigh because the driving position is comfortable and the Swedes, unlike the Italians, know that a person with a sore hip does not want to sit at a rakish angle to the steering wheel.
I didn’t buy a Volvo solely for that reason, of course, or for the heated leather seats and walnut trim. I bought it for the stereo. It has two knobs and four large buttons, and I can turn it on and find National Radio without risking a multi-vehicle collision on the south-bound motorway.
I can also see all the switches and can operate them without having taken a crash course in electronics. (The Swedes also know that if you’re going to put a clock in a car, it needs to be where you can see it without taking your hands off the steering wheel and leaning 45 degrees to the left.)
I was a little nervous when daylight saving ended, since in my previous car changing the clock involved pushing a series of buttons in a particular sequence and then holding one of them down while pressing the ‘set’ button. Suffice it to say the clock remained on daylight saving time throughout the year. The Swedes have invented an easier way. Turn the clock button either clockwise or anti-clockwise to change the time, says the handbook. Extraordinary.
All of this is, of course, a sad reflection of the fact that the Swedes know how to make cars for older people, and perhaps the fact that I like it so much rather proves that I am one. Sigh.