Open Top Cars

They say that midlife brings a certain crisis to men leaving them with a need to complete an unfulfilled goal. For some this involves the purchase of a motorbike with more chrome than is good for you. For others a clothing makeover is undertaken aimed at somehow recapturing their youth.

I have noticed a rather surprising trend in this respect in the number of middle aged men driving open top cars; especially when you consider the weather in these parts.

How often do you see men in their late forties or early fifties driving convertibles with the top still up because the water content in the atmosphere could ruin their luxury leather upholstery.

When a sunny day does arrive it is seized upon as a perfect way of justifying their decision to buy a roofless motor. Of course these occasions normally occur on Wednesday afternoons when most people are at work.

Then, every Silsden flood or so, a week of rain is followed by a Sunday of kinder conditions when our middle-aged heroes come into their own (or should that be go out on their own).

The hills and dales are filled with two-seater convertibles as couples pretend to be enjoying the wind destroying their neatly coiffured hair. You can’t imagine they could have a good conversation without having to shout at each other above the noise of the other traffic; give me air-conditioning any day.

A few weeks ago we went for drive in our car with a roof in the general direction of Ilkley deciding to stop off a pub on the tops for a bite to eat. We sat for a while after our meal and stared lazily at the incredible view before us, occasionally glancing at the cars arriving to find room at the inn.

It wasn’t long before several convertibles arrived seemingly in convoy; it looked like a mid-life crisis day out. I have to admit they looked quite good in their vehicles as the sun dared to peak from behind its usual grey blanket to smile on them; I almost felt a tinge of envy (I said almost); they were having their one day in the sun so you had to allow them a bit of showing off.

Within a few minutes, however, we were distracted by a loud noise above us as a helicopter circled, and then landed in the field adjacent to the beer garden. The pilot circled a few times which I presume was an important part of his approach to landing although it seemed like he was just enjoying the sight of us all holding on to garden umbrellas.

Once he ‘parked’ his chopper we joined the rest of the pub clientele, leaving our drinks to stand and watch this incredible sight; probably hoping to see a celebrity or two emerge.

Once the blades had stopped their whirring a fairly ordinary looking family appeared from the gleaming copter and joined the other revellers in their search for good ale and food. We all returned to our seats and our conversations slightly disappointed not to be in the presence of someone famous.

I had to feel slightly sad for the open top car drivers as they were severely beaten in the ‘looking cool’ stakes. They all looked a bit saddened by the appearance of the helicopter family and it wasn’t long before they climbed in to their vehicles to find a pub that didn’t welcome pilots.

We didn’t wait to watch the flying family take off again because we had plans to look around quaint shops in Ilkley and Skipton. I took one last look at the monster of a machine in the field not far from where I had parked my car and was comforted that the helicopter same colour as my Passat; at least we had that in common.