SAD NEWS. Do you mind if we go into the other room while we talk about it? It’s just that I don’t want it to overhear…

My car is dying. I’m going to have to put it out of its misery. I’ve had it for more than 12 years, ever since it had 0.2 miles on the clock. Now it has 134,483 – I’ve driven every single one of those, except the 120 miles to Manchester which I let my wife drive when I’d hurt my knee.

I pushed a little button the other day and discovered that my average speed since I last pushed that little button many, many months ago was 30.1mph. That means I’ve spent 4,467.87 hours of my life driving that car, rubbing the steering wheel smooth at the top with my right hand, and wearing the CD box flat where I rest my left elbow.

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If a day lasts 12 hours, I’ve spent 372 of them at the wheel of my car – more than a year.

In all that time, it has let me down once. At 62,000 miles, the fuel pump went when I was in the outer lane of the A1(M) approaching Scotch Corner. It was a winter day. The whole car shut down and we glided silently across the traffic and came to a halt in a snowdrift on the hard shoulder within walking distance of the hotel.

So the car, a Ford Mondeo, is part of the family. And it still goes like a dream – so fast, it got me done for speeding recently.

But it doesn’t always go. It’s burned out one starter motor and now the new one is coughing. It needs £800 of work and webuyanycar says it’s worth £175.

Everything inside – a part from the cigarette lighter which my son stomped on when he was small climbing between the seats – works. Every bulb, every gadget, every heater, every radio station… But soon they will be scrunched and scrapped as it makes no economical sense to save them.

Loyal to the last, the old car is taking me round the showrooms so I can cheat on it by taking a new babe out for a test drive.

I daren’t look it in the headlights when I return. It must know what’s coming. Every dog has its day.

RICHMOND School is no longer to teach its pupils Latin. I did Latin O-level, taught by Mr Cable whom every year of schoolboys knew as “Old Ropey” behind his back.

It is because I did Latin that I can spell “necessary”. While the double c or double s conundrum catches other people out, I know the Latin is “necesse” – and because Old Ropey Cable had been alive at the time of the Romans, he knew they pronounced it with a hard c, “neckesse”. Once you know that, you can only spell necessary with one c because that’s the only way to fit in with the Roman’s pronunciation.

A useful lesson.

On the downside, whenever my mind falls into idle, at a red traffic light, for example, it finds a little rhythm in the rattly diesel Mondeo engine which takes me back to Latin lessons where we endlessly conjugated amo in the present tense: “Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant.” If the light doesn’t change quickly, I can go into the imperfect: “Amabam, amabas, amabat, amabamus, amabatis, amabant.”

It is a lovely collection of noises, but it has proved utterly, utterly useless. I, too, am hoping to give up Latin when I get a new car.