There’s a fuzz-encrusted five pence piece trapped in my car. This bum fluffed coin of the Realm must have rolled out of my pocket, down the side of the driver’s seat and has become wedged under one of its slider rails. On the odd occasions I clean my car’s interior, I will see this coin winking duly at me and I sometimes attempt to retrieve it.
The gap between the front seats and centre console is a small one. Ram a hand into this and I am rewarded by frustration and discomfort. Either the seat squab forces the backs of my fingers against the hard, grainy plastic of the console, so that my hand slowly descends in a mildly painful, knuckle grating manner. If said hand is the other way around my fingers are jointed the wrong way to liberate the coin. If it’s not, and by a mixture of determination and brute force my hand is facing the correct way and a finger and thumb can at least grasp the coin, the grip will be enfeebled by a lack of space, other fingers will get in the way and there will be insufficient yanking space to jerk the coin free. Did I mention the numbing effects of nerve receptors losing sensation because they’re getting crushed along with your hand? I’m familiar with that too.
Most car owners will have experienced similar scenarios. Another, altogether more revolting variation involves escaped boiled sweets. These adhere with bearded malevolence to inaccessible bits of carpet, or lurk unpleasantly between seat cushions, only to be revealed when the seat is attacked by a vacuum cleaner with a narrow nozzle in which the sweet can be wedged stickily as it tries to choke the vacuum cleaner to death.
I married someone who works in education, and agree with her approach to children, which is: ‘I like them, but why bring your work home?’ This means that our cars have largely been child free zones, so we haven’t experienced the agony of kneeling on a piece of Lego or a primary coloured plastic figurine that has found its way onto the rear footwells. Instead, we are familiar with a similar experience involving hard dog biscuits, which still hurt when you kneel on them and shatter into dusty shards that take forever to clean up.
Which brings us to the entirely resistible combination of dog hair and cloth car seats. We used to have a largely white terrier of uncertain heritage, who shed quill like hairs that stood out from most dark car seat material and would decorate the seat trim’s weave like Desperate Dan’s five o’clock shadow. Unless these were plucked individually from the seats, they proved to be remarkably unwilling to shift, even when attacked with a brush or a Henry vacuum cleaner, whose stuck on smiley face took on a rictus grin as the machine sucked impotently. For some reason, passengers’ clothes proved to be far more attractive to these dog hairs, as a number of their wearers noted.
Some makes of car seem to have more dog hair resistant seat trim material than others. I’ve noticed that Toyotas are better in this regard than VW group models, although age and a loosening of seat trim weaves make the problem generically worse. Modern cars seem to have more inaccessible nooks and crannies for old sweet wrappers to migrate to, surfaces that show finger marks, and in some cases use materials that aren’t perhaps appropriate.
This brings me to the re-cycled cork Mazda uses to cover the centre console oddments tray in the electric MX-30. What happens if it gets wet, has sweets stuck to it, or comes into contact with a leaky ballpoint? It makes me think nostalgically about the simple insides of early Issigonis Minis, and the Series 2 Land Rover – a car with a hoseable interior.