It was a moment for a silly question ‘what would Jesus drive?’
Walking along the edge of the Bristol Downs at sunset one autumn evening, I crossed the road to walk along the pavement passing a series of fine houses. As I walked, a car drew up at the roadside ahead of me. The driver, a striking young man in his late twenties, dark-haired and wearing an open-necked shirt and immaculate trousers stepped out of the left-hand drive car and went around to open the passenger door at the pavement side. His companion for the evening, a brunette with sunglasses on the top of her head, came out of one of the houses and gave him a peck on the cheek before elegantly reclining into the car.
The car was a yellow Ferrari convertible. Don’t ask me the model; I haven’t a clue about such things. It was a picture of perfection. Here was wealth and style and elegance and sophistication I could never dream of.
A yellow Ferrari was a reminder, as if one were needed, of my complete failure to attain suaveness, affluence or cosmopolitanism.
Re-crossing the Downs later that evening, parked at the roadside as I headed towards the setting sun, I saw the car that was much closer to my station in life; a green Morris 1000 Traveller.
I always associated Morris Minors with clergymen. Why the association between clergy and Morris Minors? I don’t know.
Perhaps Morrises were the best that might be afforded on a clerical stipend; perhaps they represented best value for money; perhaps they were unostentatious in times when many people in the parish might have afforded no car at all.
Perhaps it is something much more subconscious, something much less apparent. The Morris Minor conjures images of rural idylls, of a stable, unchanging society, of a world that is safe and unthreatening. It is a car with which to drive through sleepy villages with thatched cottages and village greens and cricket pitches. It is the car of the district nurse and the primary school teacher. Open the glove compartment and there would be an AA members’ handbook; open the boot and there would be a basket with a Thermos flask and sandwiches and pork pies and fruit cake.
The Morris Minor is a symbol of reassurance, of feeling content that all was well with one’s world.
But which would Jesus have driven: the Italian masterpiece or the Cowley manufacture? One suspects neither. It would seem more in keeping with his life and teaching that he would have caught the bus, or, where there was no bus, to have walked – for miles if necessary.