A year with a Norse God.
If George Orwell wasn’t volunteering to fight in the Spanish civil war, he might just have been found causing literary chaos whilst craving a pint of stout in his perfect pub. A turbulent life ended aged just 46, Orwell spent many years inventing (and searching for) the Moon Under Water – his perfect, Londinium watering hole.
In his (final) Saturday essay published in the Evening Standard, 9th February 1946, Orwell set out ten significant bullet points, eight of which he eventually found in one unnamed hostelry. In turn, this led to me thinking can similar attributes be used to review a car after twelve months ownership?
In that time, Nimrod has safely carried me just over 7,000 miles. Fortunate enough to have a position of employment I travel to daily, the enforced restrictions of the past year naturally limited other journeys out. One always attempts to take the longer route, if only to savour the time spent in such a wonderful car.
Orwell’s first point was that his pub’s architecture and fittings should be Victorian. Known for their longevity, Volvo aren’t quite that old but the wood used for the dash, door surrounds and console covers remains a tactile and visual joy. Orwell searched for “solid and comfortable ugliness of the nineteenth century.” 21st century Scandinavian ideas work for me.
His second point concerns a good roaring fire. The S90’s heating would be infinitely better for a physical point of control rather than a touch screen finger jab. Some journeys, the temperature is left as was, regardless in order not to upset the drive. However, the power alongside speed of the heating is superb. Same goes for summer cooling. The ten day long heatwave the UK endured this past summer saw external temperatures reach 33 Celsius. Within half a mile, one can be chilled to the bone in such rarefied luxury, the Lo setting perhaps requires re-naming Guinness extra-cold?
George wished for games only to be played in the public bar so as to avoid the worry of flying darts. The daily sojourns into public life are enough for anyone who drives. Idiots abound.
Silence. Orwell wanted his pub sans radio or piano. Well, the 2-litre diesel resonates on start up, especially when cold but evaporates swiftly enough. One could never call the car silent (only the Recharge Volvo’s offer that) but intrusive is too strong a call. Background atmospherics in a comforting manner. And should the slurring gearbox upset the Lark Ascending, the volume of the excellent audio system cancels most things out.
Barmaids; not exactly. But the woman in my life believes the car too big and cumbersome yet basks in the glorious space of the passenger seat. Her role of navigator almost redundant now with the easy enough to fathom for a dinosaur such as myself, sat-nav, not that we’ve used it much.
The pub Orwell invented sold tobacco, aspirins and stamps, none of which can be found in the not exactly cavernous but perfectly acceptably sized glovebox. In fact, there’s not much in there at all – spare reading glasses, biro, notepad. One doesn’t even need to carry the bible thickness handbook as everything is online. Another Orwellian stipulation being the pub’s “obliging use of the telephone.” The car and mobile connect the instant the ignition is on. One now utilises this display in order to charge the phone, an easy task with a USB point confined within the storage area where the left arm lounges.
Back to Orwell’s enjoyment of stout (of a sort) being Nimrod’s own drinking habit. £75 of frothy diesel fill ups allow for around 475 miles of range with my (non-motorway) commute. The brief forays onto the motorway network (where he is far more at home) sees that range extend. One often plays the game of “how few miles left in the tank” afore filing up – my lowest being but 20 and the orange idiot light twinkling.
On matters food and repair, my commute is mercifully short but one wouldn’t eat or drink in the car, regardless. Not being one for takeaway anything, the cup holders as a rule carry little. Now, on the repair front, the car has returned to the dealership for the following; one service and the MOT. The service was a the annual affair, fluids, check over and cost £250, plus one unlucky moment where a joiners No. 6, 3” screw lodged perfectly in the centre tread – a repair costing £10; new tyres significantly more.
Orwell also thought his beloved stout tasted better from a pewter pot. My automotive take on this personal description being that once washed and polished, the Luminous Sand positively sparkles. And when the sky turns pewter with il pleut arriving, the concurrent beading effect emphasises the S90’s sleek attributes. Under certain weather and lighting conditions, the metallic gold paint proffers a more (under water) argent hue which is impossible to capture by camera but delights me. Therein lies more than mere depth to the paintwork.
At certain angles, the Chinese made saloon appears smaller than he actually is. I’d love to compare Nimrod with a Jaguar XJ of any series or a saloon from Crewe. And, in fantasy land, a mid-1960’s Buick Riviera. Don’t laugh, dissimilar dimensionally they are not. The Riv is 600mm longer, 160mm wider. The S90 sits just 1,443mm high – Buick at 1,372mm. Both share vast bonnets. A Swedish Riviera, then? The colour fits.
The car, like Orwell’s hostelry search, ain’t perfect (are any?) – his length and girth make for some interesting manoeuvres on my routes to and from work. That front end has a propensity to bottom out, causing the driver to emit a grawlix or ten whilst the underside graunches. Sometimes the front sensors inform me I’m too close to absolutely nothing in front of the car, making my wife (and myself, to be honest) jump on hearing the noise.
And I’ve barely got to grips with the multi-layered menus, settings and memory features as I’m far too happy enjoying the trappings of a large and luxurious saloon that not only looks the business but assuages most of my desires.
Mr Orwell never did find his perfect pub. My perfect car search is called off, too. Guinness, anyone?