The Red Golf Cabriolet

The Red Golf Cabriolet

Caroline Wallis

It was the summer of 1988. I was flush with pride after achieving excellent A level results. The world was my oyster. I was ready for university and aiming to conquer the world. The only trouble was lack of transport and lack of cash. I managed to resolve that by applying for a job at the local gourmet restaurant. I arrived for my first day at work and was snootily appraised by the maître’ d.

I had to change into a uniform and was run off my feet learning silver service and dealing with the excruciating demands of the volatile head chef. I just bit my tongue and got my head down and thought about the lure of my first paycheque and the chance to feel solvent again, making plans to enjoy my summer, once I had saved enough.

I needed wheels so I could enjoy the summer. I noticed a beautiful red golf cabriolet in the car park and assumed that it belonged to a rich patron of the restaurant. I found out with some envy that it belonged to the head chef.

The car gleamed red in the summer sunlight whispering have me, drive me, race me, if you own me, you are someone, you are made, you are successful and can have it all.

God, I really wanted a car like that. In my penniless state, I really envied the head chef being able to afford such a car. I thought about what he was doing and how he was working and suddenly looked at him with new respect. He was a nightmare to work for but he clearly loved and cared about his work. If he could afford a car like that, he must be doing well. The gleaming red golf became my mantra for that summer, I was going to study hard at uni, get my degree, work hard, and aim one day to aspire to own my own Red Golf.

Some years later, after marriage and a baby we went on holiday to France. We’d had a long drive with a boot packed to the rafters to our carefully picked child friendly hotel with high chairs and baby friendly food.

As we drove in, I saw the Red Golf cabriolet parked by the hotel entrance, all packed and ready to leave. The top was down, revealing spotless cream leather seats and sleek silver fittings.   The car glowed like fire in the afternoon sun. The owners stood at the door, the man slim, silver haired, beautifully dressed in a casual dark shirt and jeans. The wife was immaculate with a perfect silver hair and that elegant style older monied women have with a minimum of expensive jewellery showcasing her slim wrists and elegant collar bones. They got into the red golf and drove slowly down the drive towards the setting sun, a picture of later life wealth ease and contentment. What an image. I hoped I would look like that in 30 years. Not as I was then, currently baby overweight and tired, not a boden yummy mummy more Evans outsize.

As they drove away, the red car following the path of the setting sun, I envied the ease, elegance and clear material comforts oozing from that picture. The couple were clearly made for adventures in retirement.  I really hoped that would be our future after 30 years of hard work or you never know, I might win the lottery and that life. Well I could dream, couldn’t I?

Many years later, it was my grandson’s wedding day. He looked so handsome looking lovingly at his beautiful bride. The wedding was a very happy day, sunny, joyous, full of music, laughter good words and humour. A happy wedding, in my mind, was a good sign for a happy marriage. I was happy to be a respected observer watching my daughter start to relax from her mother of the bridegroom anxiety once all the formalities were over.  The bride and groom cut the cake, twirled in the first dance and got ready to leave. They had hired a red golf cabriolet to drive away to their future. I watched them depart waving to family and friends and wished them all the love and happiness in the world, wishing his grandfather had been there to share the joy of that day. Later that night, when I was on my own ready to sleep, I thought about the importance of that car and how it had been there at 3 important points in my life.

Envy at seeing the car at 18 had turned to aspiration and the dedication to work hard and qualify as a lawyer.  As a young parent, it became a symbol of love and hope for the future after long years of work. For my grandson, it was now the future driving away to a new life of love and happiness with his bride after their wedding.

I was happy. I had loved and lost but our marriage had produced our daughter and in turn our lovely grandson whose future was now opening up before him and I so hoped a happy one with his new love.

I watched the red golf cabriolet drive away into the path of the sunset and thanked it for being part of the circle of my life.