‘I need the car for work,’ he said abruptly. ‘Take the Jeep.’
‘Two hundred and fifty grand’s worth of Italian design to rev up under the sales girls’ window? Rummm, rummm!’
But now she had begun to mimic him. ‘I would never have bought a Ferrari, Mum’ – she deepened her voice – ‘if they hadn’t come out with this four-seater. I want the whole family to enjoy it. I’ll have it insured for all of us to drive.’
Dave didn’t know what to say. They were the very words he had pronounced two months ago over dinner with his parents.
‘I’m taking it,’ she said.
‘I’m coming with you, then,’ he announced.
Susan’s eyes opened wide. ‘Incredible, a holiday with my workaholic hubby, because he’s worried about his Ferrari! There’s lusso for you!’
Dave kept his treasure in the garage under the house. Just the knowledge that it was down there, gleaming softly in the darkness, seemed to change the whole nature of their domestic life. Everything appeared a little shabby in comparison, not quite up to scratch.
All at once, Dave had the impression they needed to dress better, have the parquet sanded, upgrade the furniture. Instead, at 50, Susan had suddenly got it into her head she needed a dog. ‘If you can have a Ferrari, I can have a dog,’ she declared. The children were thrilled. But while Dave had supposed there must be any number of dogs to buy in West London, now, after a month trawling the net, his wife had identified the creature of her dreams in a village called Bargrennan, five miles north of Newton Stewart, in Galloway, Scotland. It seemed a hell of a drive for a mutt, he thought.
At a wintry 7am he made the others wait on the road outside, worried the chassis might grate at the top of the ramp with four on board. Their younger son had preferred his football training, but Rachel, their daughter, had brought along her friend Tracy who apparently knew an enormous amount about dogs. So there were two giggling 18-year-olds in the back. Every time Dave glanced in the mirror he found Tracy’s bright eyes and red mouth. She looked more grown up than Rachel. It was distracting.
‘Rather retro,’ Susan remarked on Western Avenue of the dashboard design. ‘These air vents in particular. Like something from Millennium Falcon, don’t you think?’
‘Shut up, Mum. You’re such a Grinch!’
‘I think it’s fabulous,’ Tracy sighed. ‘Really unbelievably beautiful.’ Again, Dave met her eyes in the mirror. Her lips had that fresh-as-wet-paint look. On the M40 he put his foot down.
‘Noisy,’ Susan needled.