About 18 months ago, my husband suffered a bit of a mid-life crisis. As crises go, it was pretty tame. My husband is a happy, positive person. But for a few days he wasn’t enjoying life. He had suddenly, and finally, realised that all he does is work. He’s always worked ridiculously hard, even before he had his own business, and he has worked harder and harder ever since.
He’d given up everything he enjoyed – playing football, watching football (apart from on TV), playing golf and going out with friends. What little time he had left, he spent with the kids. But he only ever saw them just before they went to bed, when they were inevitably grumpy, fighting or hyper, and all he did was get cross with them.
I felt the solution for him was in spending more time with the kids, doing things they all enjoyed. Not long after, my eldest started playing rugby, a game my husband had never played and never had any interest in. He found he really enjoyed watching. Even more significantly, my younger son started playing football, a game my husband has always loved. He enjoyed watching my boy grow and develop as a player every week. Within a very short space of time, he’d become an assistant coach. A few months later, he became coach of the Under 7s and Under 8s.
From all of this, he started building up a Dad friendship network. He’d never understood that I enjoyed taking the kids to Cubs and Beavers and school and chatting to other parents. But now he was making his own connections. Some of them were Dads of kids I knew, some of the were completely new people. He saw them at Cubs and Beavers too and started to understand how my kids’, and my, social network fitted together.
He’d found the solution. But, actually, it was too late. Because he’d already come up with his own, rather more expensive solution to his mid-life crisis. HE WAS GOING TO BUILD A CAR.
A Caterham. It’s a rather fast, two-seater sports car thing. It’s very basic – no heater or radio – which makes it cheap as far as fast two-seater, impractical cars go. It’s also cheaper when you build it yourself. But building it is part of the fun. That’s the hobby, the solution to him feeling he has nothing in his life apart from work. I imagined it was going to take a year to 18 months to build. But apparently he wants to do it in three months and be out on the road in the spring.
The Caterham doesn’t feature on women’s radars. But, amongst men, it is big news. Friends, family, colleagues, football Dads, casual acquaintances, even my eldest’s friends, all want to help make the car. I have visions of my house, garden and garage being over-run with men, all standing around pondering and drinking tea while one of them crawls around on the ground getting oily.
The Caterham arrives tomorrow. My husband can hardly contain himself. While the rest of the world counted down to Christmas, my husband has been counting down to Caterham. It is such a big deal that he is even taking a couple of days off work.