A strange confluence of events – rivers of fate – has swept me out into a turbulent ocean of confusion.
The first occurred when I was sitting on the pavement outside a WHSmith. Wofful, my labradoodle, and I had been banished from the shopping arcade, so we’d set off in search of some pigs’ ears. I’d grabbed a piece of rope from the car to act as a makeshift lead.
On the way my iPhone had beeped, summoning the need to urgently respond to an email. I therefore slumped on the pavement by the shop entrance, freeing an all-important thumb and finger for typing. Wofful duly curled up beside me.
My concentration was broken by the overly loud comments of a passing couple.
“Why do homeless people always have dogs?” they pondered, clearly referring to me and the Woffs.
‘Wow!’ I thought. All my achievements, and a lifetime of hard work and effort, were for nought. They had gone in an instant.
So I took solace in the books section of WHSmith. Jumping out at me from the shelves was one particular volume: The Ladybird Book of the Mid-Life Crisis.
I don’t know if you have seen this series of reworked versions of the old Ladybird books, but they are brilliant, encapsulating modern-day issues in a sensationally pithy and humorous manner. I opened a random page.
‘Jason’s mid-life crisis started one Sunday morning in B&Q when he spotted a tub of yacht varnish.
‘“I’ll never own a boat,” he thought to himself.
‘Jason had never wanted to own a boat. But now, not owning one is all he can think about.’
Following the homeless comment, the words resonated in a deeply moving manner.
This annual event is an outstandingly eclectic gathering of things and people from days gone by. There are steam engines and classic cars, heavy horses and rural crafts. But I was inexplicably drawn to the ‘autojumble’ section of the show.
Here, car-booters and traders on steroids have amassed an unbelievable collection of old car, steam-engine and agricultural parts for sale. I wandered, strangely intoxicated by the overwhelming randomness of it all.
And then I stopped in my tracks. There, on one of the stands, was my reason for being here. My fate. My calling. My very own embodiment of a mid-life crisis.
A baby-blue, rusting-but-adorable, straight-from-a-child’s-drawing vintage tractor.
Now let me be clear: I have never wanted a tractor. I have never dreamed of owning a tractor. I have no need for a tractor: I live in a normal house in a Somerset village, not on a farm in Wyoming. And yet, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
“How much is it?”
“It’s a He, not an It,” said the man.
And He and I were sold.
He’s arriving in the next few days on a transporter. Ready for… I don’t know what yet – the world’s slowest back-up tow vehicle, perhaps?
At least that’s my mid-life crazy purchase sorted. Or so I thought. Better not tell the neighbours that I’m currently the leading bidder for a combine harvester on eBay…
Oh, and the serial number for my tractor is 54P/302941/Z, and it’s a Leyland 154 petrol model from the 1960s (rare, apparently). If you happen to know any more about its history, do get in touch.
Visit Martin’s website for information about him, his books and his property training weekends, and follow his adventures on Twitter.
Will it be the world’s slowest back-up tow vehicle?