MOTHERSHIP: Shauna. Are you sitting down? I have some terrible news.
SHAUNA: Oh god. What happened?
M: I've had a car accident.
S: Oh my god!
M: I slammed into a semi-trailer.
S: Oh my god! Are you in hospital?
M: No, I'm fine! I was only doing 15 km/h!
S: Bloody hell, woman!
Our Scottish jaunt was largely funded by the sale of Manuel, our darling maroon-with-pink-stripe Festiva hatch. The Mothership bought him with the understanding that she would look after him and keep him clean. Writing him off just two months later was not part of the deal.
The accident happened on a tiny country road, where The Mothership crept out from a Give Way and didn't see the semi barreling by. Luckily she is a infuriatingly cautious driver, otherwise she could have been a goner. She finally sent me the photos yesterday, and from the filthy state of the vehicle, I'm not convinced it was an accident. I think Manuel was so depressed by such blatant neglect that he wanted to end it all.
My habit of naming inanimate objects really must stop, because the pain of losing them is so great. Our time with Manuel was brief and bittersweet. It was devastating to see his crumpled, mud-streaked corpse.
– The competition to name him, which sparked an unprecedented 70 comments
The highlight was the final time I drove him. It was from Canberra to Goulburn on the Friday night before we left. It was on the verge of a thunderstorm with The Dirty Three brooding on the stereo. Lightning scribbled across the sky, showing random bursts of sheep and gum trees out of the darkness. The road was empty so I drove too fast and tried to stuff all that space and quiet into my memory.