Norman left us today.
He had been part of the family for over five years. Included in many an outing, taken on shopping trips, or adventures around the island, he was very much loved. He even accompanied J and C to school as soon as he was able.
He wasn't, however, terribly well cared for. He would occasionally get a brush-up, even a wash; generally kept well watered, and we made sure he always had enough energy to join in with whatever was going on. There were seasons of neglect, though. When Cat and Jonny were away, he got very little attention from the Parents. Occasionally, I'd let him come with me on a journey to school, but otherwise I would deliberately leave him at home on his own. He wasn't, at the time, particularly important to me. Once Cat or Jonny came home from uni, he was up and about again, privy to many a secret as friends hung out together.
I took Norman for granted. I think we all did, in one way or another, but he was, generally, very faithful to us, doing whatever we asked of him. He carried all Jonny's surfboards for him, putting up with the sand and seawater. He didn't much like sand, but still went on the beach. Getting him off it was more of a challenge: I'm sorry to say that he only agreed to climb up the slipway when threatened. We'll gloss over the next bit, save to say that that the tide was coming in rapidly while he was still on the beach, and that LARGE stones had to be used to persuade him.
Towards the end, he really became the worse for wear. He looked beaten-up, battered and worn out. He still had lots of energy once he got going but it sometimes took a while...but towards the end his battery just ran flat all the time.
So, with intense sadness, we reluctantly decided he had to go. His life - exciting, adventurous, faithful, true - had come to an end.
He was reluctant to leave us. Halfway to his final resting place, he ground to a halt. Refused to move. We were left with no alternative but to plug him in to a new battery.
Arriving at the cemetery, it was all over in a matter of minutes. As we walked away, he was being pushed around the corner by three burly men.
We wanted to give him a good send-off, but couldn't get it organised in time. He was never very keen on drinking, fortunately for him (brushes with the police were few and far between), so perhaps that wouldn't have been appropriate. But please do join us in our mourning by adding your fond memories of Norman into the comments box below.
PS In case you think we have been unduly harsh, let me detail what was wrong with Norman: the windows did not wind any more - up was up, down was down; the door hinges were broken, so that the door would swing wildly open and refuse to shut properly; the windscreen was beginning to need new cataracts - the glass was beginning to become opaque; there were rust holes in the floor; the door trim had become detached and the front bumper had had several disastrous connections with rocks. 'Nuff said!