Just had one of those phone calls that you never really want to have.

It was from my wife, Samantha, who had just set off in our tired but much loved old Citroen ZX Avantage D not three minutes earlier to go to the hairdressers (where else…).

I could tell the moment she spoke that something was most definitely up. Her voice was all wobbly, and she sounded strangely calm but also very freaked out. Which is hardly surprising considering that she’d just experienced total brake failure at the T-junction at the end of our road, and ended up flying out into the main road.

A lot of people would have panicked and frozen under such circumstances, but she didn’t. She yanked on the handbrake as hard as possible, apparently, and just about brought the ZX to a stop – before she or it made contact with anything. I guess you either know instinctively how to do the right thing when something like that happens, or you don’t. Either way, she avoided disaster, and I’m incredibly proud of her as a result.

But the car, I fear, now has to go. Despite having been in our family for over 10 years, mainly as a cheapo runabout to take stuff to the tip with, it has reached that sad stage in life where things have begun to go wrong on it all too frequently. The cost of repair has started to drastically outweigh the cost of the car itself.

Besides, right now, even if I did splash another £100 or so on a new master-cylinder, I’m not sure my wife would trust the thing ever again. And I know that, this time, she’s absolutely right.