I’ve finally sold my old VW diesel – so how do I bolt when I need to now? | Rachel Cooke

Locking my car door from the inside has always represented safety to me, but the low-emission zone put paid to that

Last Monday, I sold my car. This had to be done. Later this month, the mayor of London will extend his low-emission zone; my old VW being a diesel, every journey was about to cost me £12.50. But as I kept telling myself, there were other, more virtuous reasons for this mournful visit to the Shoreditch branch of the Philip Schofield theme park that is webuyanycar.com. Whatever else I might have done wrong in my life, at least I’m now no longer contributing to the city’s congestion and pollution.

Travelling home on the tube, however, I was overcome by sudden sadness. As a teenager, nothing was more important than passing my test; even now, I still feel weirdly proud of the fact that I can drive and weirdly disdainful of those who can’t. I regard driving as a feminist act. It has saved my bacon so many times; locking my car door from the inside late at night has always represented safety to me.

The woman who cannot drive cannot bolt, a word I use in its Mitfordian sense to denote “escape from a male lover of the species”, though one does, of course, need something to bolt in. The man at webuyanycar.com, sipping thoughtfully from his Pip Schofield mug, spoke kindly of all the options available to me. But it’s hardly the same, is it? Where’s the drama in booking a hire car into which to throw all your worldly possessions? How to roar off stagily in something that’s parked in the next-but-one street and that has a multicoloured Zipcar logo emblazoned on its side?

Sibling rivalry

Joan Collins at theLondon premiere of Lady Boss on 1 July.
Joan Collins at the London premiere of Lady Boss on 1 July. Photograph: James Veysey/REX/Shutterstock

Lady Boss, a brilliantly mad (and sad) new film about Jackie Collins to be screened by the BBC next week, has lots to say about feminism, albeit mostly of the leopardskin-jacket-and-athletic-sex variety (the author of Hollywood Wives, though seriously into equal pay, was not, we gather, a great one for Kate Millett et al). But not everyone in it comes to praise or even fondly to recall the shoulder pads.

Jackie’s big sister, Joan, just can’t help herself, telling us, solemn-faced, that after she died in 2015, her sibling was reincarnated as a fruit fly. What? How did she know? Apparently, it was its impressive tenacity that was the giveaway, the insect having doggedly followed poor, grieving Joan all the way from the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills hotel to the south of France.

V&A’s new baby

The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London.
The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London. Photograph: Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy

However well-intentioned, I think the V&A’s decision to change the name of the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green to Young V&A – and to banish its historic collections of toys to V&A East – may be a mistake.

Reason one: while all of us have a childhood, not everyone is young. Reason two: such a name suggests that the V&A’s other outposts are only for the old, which they’re not. Reason three: Young V&A sounds so contingent and temporary – something, perhaps, to be grown out of. Reason four: in my experience, children know instinctively when they are being patronised and all this talk of “nurturing the innovators of the future” does sound a touch condescending to me. Reason five: no one should discount the value of (ostensible) boredom.

That sensation, almost as much as its opposite, can set a small brain working. As a child, dragged around a museum by a teacher or parent, I was always looking for the least dull thing, which is how, against all expectation, I would sometimes find an interesting, exciting thing.

• Rachel Cooke is an Observer columnist


Rachel Cooke

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
How the Twitter tide of plastic lost at sea has come to define our age | Tim Adams
An artist’s images of tiny toys and figurines dumped in the ocean highlight the wasteful ways we have to change

Tim Adams

04, Jul, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Blueprint is going out of print, but its glory days are not over yet
In its magazine format it lasted 37 years, criticising architecture and design with true energy. Now it is online only

Rowan Moore

11, Jul, 2020 @5:00 PM

Article image
I’ve taken up outdoor swimming. I just thought you should know | Fiona Maddocks
OK, I only started last month and I don’t know how long I’ll manage it, but for now it’s making me glow

Fiona Maddocks

03, Jan, 2021 @7:00 AM

Article image
Rishi Sunak comes across as Mr Clean, but I’ve got his number | Bidisha
Ambitious, on-message and fundamentally well brought up, for the chancellor it is surely only about the maths


05, Feb, 2022 @5:00 PM

Article image
There’s a time and a place for trees – don’t transplant them for our amusement | Rowan Moore
Making an exhibition out of living things rather defeats any environmental message they are supposed to convey

Rowan Moore

16, May, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Will mass trespasses make the government reconsider burying its land reform plan? | Tim Adams
As the government suppresses its own report, groups are gearing up to fight for better access to the English countryside

Tim Adams

07, May, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
Living in a tree is the only way to save it from pointless destruction | Tim Adams
A man in a hammock is determined to stop Haringey council felling a tree in a row over subsidence

Tim Adams

02, Jul, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
This haunting vision of climate change could concentrate minds at Cop26 | Tim Adams
Jonathan C Slaght’s nature writing has much greater impact than Boris Johnson’s speech at the UN

Tim Adams

25, Sep, 2021 @4:30 PM

Article image
It’s never boring at the barber’s when aliens and cryptocurrency are involved | Tim Adams
One was abducted and never fancied football afterwards, while the latest waxes eloquently about bitcoin and Elon Musk

Tim Adams

28, Aug, 2021 @4:30 PM

Article image
Dismissed and derided when they stood, it’s time to reassess the twin towers | Rowan Moore
Twenty years after their destruction, we can finally see Yamasaki’s landmark pillars in all their glory

Rowan Moore

11, Sep, 2021 @4:30 PM