Graham Field: The Shallow Depths of Materialism

If you’ve been reading any of my columns for the last year or indeed any of my books it will come of no surprise to learn I live in Bulgaria. I moved here over 4 years ago, the decision to relocate was as easy as the math. I started my 25 year mortgage at age 27, surprisingly and way quicker than I expected I became 52. I owned my house outright, which in those intervening years had increased over 400% in price, who would have thought? I certainly didn’t see this happening, in fact, to begin with, I didn’t see much of the house at all. I left before dawn and when I got back from a long stint behind the wheel of a truck, shadows were cast by streetlights not daylight. Those were the dark days of the barely manageable mortgage.

There are many reasons that I relocated to the European Union’s most south-easterly member but they all come under the single appeal of ‘better quality of life’. In the UK I never had a high earning capacity but I did have the stamina to work long hours and the will power to save.

Now for the first time in my life I have an income greater than my outgoings, and I've got enough money to last the rest of my life as long I don’t make any changes to my frugal existence and I don’t live too long, (buying bikes obviously doesn’t count).

That brings me to the point of this month’s column. I've been able to treat myself to some shiny things that have given me a shallow pleasure, things I would never have been able to afford in the past. I have a Triumph Thruxton R, not new but it was only 2 years old with 762 miles on the clock (it may well help me time my demist with a depleted savings account) and an 18-year-old convertible Mustang (alcohol fuelled-post funeral-impulse buy). I get as much pleasure looking, fettling and pimping them as I do when I'm out on the road with them. They were immaculate vehicles when I got them but if you actually use them, inevitably, they get their road scars, stone chips, the general tarnishing of being thrust through the air at speeds greater than being moved around the shed.

It wasn’t exactly adventure riding but there was still a discovery, the downside, the sadness when they lose their shine, the shine that enticed me to them in the first place. I suffered an immense disappointment I have never experienced before as I have never had anything as nice before.

The Thruxton’s deterioration has been gradual over the 10,000 miles I've put on it, and the patina is worthy of the memory of the miles.