Blog: Alfa love
Dave Leggett | 10 October 2007
You might well wonder where Mike Brewer was headed with this in this week's Sunday Times: “When Leona Helmsley died recently one of the main benefactors of her will was her dog. If she had only left some Premium Bonds and a bungalow in Eastbourne it might not have made the headlines. But the American property magnate left her maltese terrier, Trouble, £6m. Right now that very small dog is living large.
“At first I thought: “Nutcase.” But then I started thinking I have this Alfa Romeo and, well, we’ve been together a long time now. I’ll never forget the first time I saw her. She was for sale. The pert, curvaceous, chrome half-bumpers poking out provocatively from beneath a tattered tarpaulin. But she’d been cruelly neglected. “Name your price,” I said, perhaps for the first time in my life outside of the best brothel in Tijuana.”
After describing his love affair with the Alfa, Brewer added: “What I’m trying to say is that in the same way Trouble was much more to Leona Helmsley than just a daft little dog, my car is more than just a car. It’s a link back to a simpler, more optimistic time. When I had more hair and money and fewer kids and direct debits. When the suggestion that one day I’d have to remortage my house so I could afford my dental bills seemed ridiculous. The beauty is that – unlike me – my car never has to get old.
“The only estate I’m likely to leave is a Volvo. So, I’m going to be buried in my Alfa. For all sorts of reasons. First, it’ll save on a coffin. Second, not only will we not need a hearse but there will be at least three free seats for mourners – four if you stick me in the boot. Third, it’s a Sixties Italian sports car – it’s had enough trouble retaining its structural integrity above ground – stick it six feet under and it’ll biodegrade faster than Zac Goldsmith’s trousers.”
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...