I regressed over Christmas and watched Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, not so much for the sake of the film, but because of the car. Back in the dark ages, I too had a Volkswagen Beetle, although mine didn’t look too much like Herbie: he was a slightly superior model with a curved windscreen, and purists didn’t really consider him a proper Beetle at all. But, as you will have gathered, he did have something in common with Herbie in that he was definitely a “he”, and he was unimaginatively but affectionately known as “Volkie”, which I suppose sounds a little bit like Herbie. So I was watching the film with a feeling of nostalgia.
Volkie served me well for over twenty years until he demonstrated that he wasn’t exactly child friendly. It was virtually impossible to strap a child’s seat safely in him, so at that point he retired to the Isle of Man. I understand that he joined a new family there, and that the little girl in the family sat in him and read books for the whole of her summer holiday.
There have been many occasions recently when I’ve looked back longingly at the past and wished that it could be recreated in some way. Yet when I think about it more analytically, it’s only really one period which I would like to live through again. 1984 was a magical year for me: it was the time when things finally fell into place, when I got engaged and we started on a new life together. There have been many happy times since, but nothing will ever live up to the heady moments of 1984.
That’s thirty years ago now, and as we start 2014 I’m beginning to think about what I’m going to do this year. I like to have things to look forward to, especially in January, but first and foremost I really need to push on with my third novel. I don’t think my heroine, Julie, has much time for hanging around and contemplating the past: she has new interests and even a small business, so she will certainly be planning ahead.
The other day we visited a couple of old friends who suggested that we might like to spend some time with them in Prague, where they have a flat, and it occurred to me (and them) that, in a way, this would be recreating the past. Many years ago we all had a holiday together in Suffolk, but then our paths diverged, and these days we only meet up once a year, if that. So Prague sounds a good idea. But of course it won’t be a carbon copy of the past; there will just be similarities. It is firmly rooted in the future, and we will all be doing entirely different things in an entirely different context.
Then, once I started writing this, I remembered that 2014 will be a year of collective looking back for the whole nation, but clearly not with a view to reconstructing the horrific events of the First World War. I love history and believe that it’s important to mark significant events, and I’m looking forward to some really good documentaries, while at the same time hoping that we’re not going to be too sentimental and mawkish about this centenary. Honouring the men and women who were caught up in the conflict is important, and I’m not disputing that, but it also seems appropriate that there should be some emphasis on understanding the causes for the war and how it has shaped and continues to shape the world we live in today.
Just by way of a more lighthearted footnote, although Volkie has been consigned to the past, some things never change: I am still a huge fan of teutonic engineering and have another German car; and my husband, who never liked Volkie, likes this one even less!
Happy New Year!
- Historic Object -Volkswagen Beetle (rdade.wordpress.com)
- End of road for VW’s iconic camper vans (news.yahoo.com)