Normally, when you catch up with your friends/relatives etc. the conversation goes along the lines of ‘How are you? How are the wife/kids/dogs? How’s the job going?’ In my case, all these get skipped and people ask ‘How’s the Lotus?’
Why are they curious about the car? Well, the acronym which has affectionately been linked to the brand (Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious) does apply and has raised its head once or twice over the years, although thankfully, mostly the trouble has been embarrassing rather than serious.
Let me set you a scene…
You pull up into a crowded petrol station and some of the fellow forecourt users casually give you a few glances and act as if they’re not bothered – it’s only a Lotus. In return, you go about your business and pretend you haven’t noticed them looking, as nobody likes a show-off. Sometimes the person on the till will comment on how nice the car looks. Sometimes, the car is enough of an eye-catcher to tear a child away from their electronic device and go “look at the sports car mummy/daddy!” It’s all secretly quite satisfying.
However, the shine is taken off proceedings when you get back into your car, turn the ignition… and it doesn’t start. You suddenly notice that everybody has forgotten the rule about casual glancing and are looking at you and thinking that now they are bothered. The person on the till sighs, the child has gone back to their video-game and you sink into your seat and wish the world would swallow you up. This may or may not have happened to me on more than one occasion.
So, what happens next? After trying the ignition a few times (just in case there was nothing wrong with the car and you had forgotten how to start one), you get out and with a sheepish smile, apologise to the queue behind and push the car out of the way. People generally do feel sorry for you and a few will come over to help push (please note, you must never ask for help, you have to let the volunteers come to you and offer their services). When the car is moved, thank all the helpers, pop the hazard lights one and stand there with your hands on your hips looking concerned while you try to figure out why the car that you drove into the petrol station will no longer drive you out of it. Kick a tyre if it helps the thought process.
At this point, someone will come over and ask if everything’s alright and can they help? They’ll ask if you’ve put the right fuel in (which always causes some doubt) and then they’ll tell you about someone they knew who had a similar problem with their Lotus, and it turned out to be such and such. Although it’s nice to know that strangers will help out in a bind, all they’re really doing is preventing you from kicking another tyre.
In the end, after being stood there for ten minutes, you try the ignition again just in case. There’s a click, there’s a roar and the engine fires into life as if nothing had happened! A mini fist pump follows and filled with relief you thank everyone for their help. You get in the car and drive off and your mind is full of thoughts like ‘what could have gone wrong?’, ‘Why did it start again’ and ‘I knew I hadn’t put diesel in it’. But after a minute, as the petrol station gets smaller and smaller behind you, all these thoughts fade away and the relief you had just moments before gets replaced with an overwhelming sense dread as you suddenly realise that you now have to get all the way home through the traffic and road works without stalling, just in case it doesn’t start again…