It was one of those moments when a clunking great pile-driver comes up and thuds straight into your duodenum. I can weave through the form for a 24-runner handicap at the sputtering fag end of the season. I can summon the maths to cope with a series of cross doubles at, say, 13–8, 11–4 and, please the Lord, 33–1. But faced with columns of car specifications and model numbers on the internet when buying from a garage three hours’ drive away, I am rather less use than the village idiot. Hence the moment last week when the replacement for our 13-year-old BMW arrived and I had to telephone the saintly Mrs Oakley, who had saved for it over six years, with the uncomfortable words, ‘Darling, I have, uh, bought the wrong car.’ What was supposed to be an estate-type vehicle to accommodate Mrs Oakley’s Labrador-to-be turned up as a saloon.
There have been moments to compare. Like our arrival, after a 200-mile drive, at a wedding. Mrs O. inquired, ‘And where is my hatbox?’ to meet the reply, ‘Ah, would that be the round thing I saw on the landing back in London just before we left?’ There was, too, the vertical ascent of the eyebrows as she asked one day, ‘And outside which supermarket is our dog still patiently sitting?’ as I returned home with the groceries but sans hound. Not to mention the expensive and uncooked turkey which, still in its cardboard box, erroneously made its way to the household-waste recycling site on Christmas Eve…Long-suffering she may be, but lost for words Mrs Oakley is not.
My BMW blunder is proving expensive to sort out. But, having vowed that the bookies will help with transition costs, I did not start well at Cheltenham’s Open meeting.