True confessions: Julia is a 4×4 driver


My colleague Julia confesses to her weakness for a powerful motor …

I am a 4×4 driver. Actually, I’m now a non-4×4 driver since the cost of driving has become astronomical.

A Mercedes ML 320 is good-looking beast, drives like a dream and is safe and comfy for my three small children and me.

I can fit all the food shopping in, plus scooters, bikes, buggies, roller blades, and even the husband from time to time. But with the price of gasoline today, even the shortest of journeys has become incredibly costly.

Before buying the car in June 2006, I consultedmy father about my imminent purchase. “To drive a flash car, you needflash money,” he said in sanctimonious tones. Flash money? I need to bea millionaire just to drive from A to B these days.

Back then, Brent crude was trading at $70/bbl.When I started writing about the chemical industry in the mid-1990s,the office would get excited if it got close to $15/bbl, never mind$150.

I’ve since taken to switching supermarkets,preferring somewhere more local to my favorite store. I’ve also startedto turn down invites to birthday parties, dinners and other socialfunctions of distances over five miles, as not filling my tank couldinstead keep my family fed for a week.

Why not get the train or bus some might say, but it’s tough traveling with three small children and all of the paraphernalia.

I’m ashamed to say I even deliberated on takingmy parents to the airport a few weeks ago. It’s only 20 minutes from myhome, but I knew it would cost me £30-40 ($59-79) in gasoline.

I’m off clothes shopping this weekend for a few preholiday purchases and I will not be taking the car.

My husband will look after the kids while I enjoythe retail therapy, supporting my friends in the polyamide industry. Myguess is that he’ll load the kids in the car, along with bikes,scooters, pram and a football and drive the short, but expensive,distance to our local park.

Mind you, it would probably be cheaper for him to take the kids on the Eurostar train and spend the day at Disneyland Paris.

For Julia’s full article, see next week’s ICIS Chemical Business.

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