It all happened so gradually I didn’t really notice. First, my wife and I found ourselves spending New Year’s Eves at home or at friends’ houses because "it’s so busy and expensive if we go out".
Then I retuned my stereo to Radio 2 because Radio 1 was "just noise". It’s also been quite some time since I bought any new clothes. "But I’ve already got a pair of jeans," I’ll say by way of an explanation.
By far the most significant sign of impending middle-age, however, was an increasing interest in the cars of BMC and – perhaps more worryingly – BL.
I grew up as a motor sport fan in the 1980s, and my cars have always had a sporting edge: Mk2 VW Golf GTi, BMW E28 M535i, Porsche 924. Then, about three years ago, I found myself bidding for a 1974 Morris 1800 on eBay... and winning.
I loved that car. It was comfortable, straightforward to work on, I could easily fit my golf clubs in the boot (important, that) and I even liked the styling. Selling it on was a sad moment, but it went to a good home – the new owner is a friend and a genuine BL enthusiast.
Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have looked twice at many BMC/BL saloons, but rather than accepting this change as a by-product of me simply getting older, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s down to the fact that my horizons are becoming broader. Instead of writing them off before trying them, I’m allowing myself to see their charms.
Admittedly, old habits die hard, and my current daily driver is a Mk1 Mazda MX-5. But my eye is already wandering to the Austin A60s of this world, and one of my highlights of the recent NEC Classic Motor Show was the fabulous A105 on the Vanden Plas stand. Also, until I actually bought the Mazda, I was sorely tempted by anything from the ADO16 range.
Maybe Clements has got the right answer with his MG Magnette: a BMC saloon with a sporting edge. To be honest, though, I’d be more than happy with any of them.