Why, for example, have I several times bought a car to satisfy a longing, gone off it, and then bought another of the same type, only to sell it again? Is it a refusal to accept, against all evidence, that the dream is just that, a dream? Reality can be so inconvenient sometimes.
In the mid-noughties, I discovered I wanted a Lancia Fulvia 1600HF. 'Where did that suddenly come from?' asked my baffled daughter Alona, then aged 19. I'd been reading about the breed's many rally wins, its crazy V4 engine with a tiny vee-angle, its intriguing mix of leaf springs and an old-fashioned steering box in unlikely combination with front-wheel drive. And seeing that neat coupé body, so glassy and compact, its horizontal surfaces with their concave upward flicks at their outer edges, its flared-out arches over fat magnesium Cromodoras, caused my heart to be lost.
I went to see a tamer, more affordable, 1.3 Fulvia coupé, but as expected it didn't match the dream. There were HFs within fiscal reach in Italy, but exporting a car from there was full of tripwires and would it really be as good as the advertisements claimed? Then I stumbled upon one for sale in Surrey, bright red, supplied new in Vienna, restored twice, and cheap. It was part of the liquidated stock of a failed classic car hire company. Alarm bells? What alarm bells?
There was plenty wrong with it but I bought it anyway. I bounced home on the collapsing front and rock-hard rear suspension and hopelessly aged tyres, savouring the impossibly rorty exhaust, ignoring the backache induced by the collapsed seat. I had a Fulvia HF! I was Sandro Munari, Ove Andersson, Simo Lampinen and more, all rolled into one. I was in a drug-induced heaven, the drug our own brains manufacture when car-love takes over.