My dad was a geek, before the word geek was invented. Very technically-oriented, numerate, practical. He fell in love with an old Rover, which (by virtue of being an old Rover) needed lots of difficult repairs on a regular basis.

Unfortunately this was in an era before Haynes manuals and Youtube instructionals, so he didn’t really know what he was doing in the bowels of a badly-made car (a previous career as an aircraft mechanic only gets you so far), and could barely afford basic tools. As a small boy he involved me in his sisyphæan repair projects, passing bits from the socket set and maybe even pulling on cables and hoses, but I couldn’t understand why most jobs couldn’t be finished on the day, when all my cartoons told me that any problem could be solved within 30 minutes.

Later, when my dad was elderly, he joined me on an overland rally. I’m not sure he was up to it, but he needed one last big adventure. I bought a Landcruiser for the job, infinitely more reliable, yet we still had one last opportunity for father-son bonding over improvised radiator repairs in the desert.

Both the Rover and my father have since gone to the big junkyard in the sky (although I imagine some of the Rover’s designers boarded an elevator going down, not up), and now I tinker on my own cars, and sometimes I finish the job and they work fine afterwards. Sometimes.