"Ah, yes, your car. They put it through an MOT when you bought it, did they?” 

These are not the words you want to hear from a trusted mechanic when you arrive to collect your car from the service he has just performed on it.

Especially when it’s combined with that pitying, incredulous expression. You know the one. There are holed ships that sink more slowly and less deeply than your heart when it’s pulled.

I shan’t dwell on the specifics. What I want to talk about is familiarity. “Did you notice the ride from the back end was crashy?” I was also asked, while preparing for a larger-than-anticipated bill. Well, yes, of course I did, but this is a 100,524-mile Land Rover Defender, so I didn’t expect anything else. Apparently, I should have. 

Elevating the car on a ramp showed the rear damper bushes were shot through. New ones have transformed the ride to the state where it is now merely mildly uncomfortable. 

More experience of leggy Defenders would have told me it wasn’t quite right. And now that I know, I am a step closer to understanding the whole, and I feel rather better about things. It is progress.

Knowing the signs, knowing the pitfalls, knowing the cures and slowly, gradually, becoming more of an expert. I feel more attached to my car.

It doesn’t just apply to cars. When my family first kept chickens, we didn’t understand why one would eat and drink but still be giddy and clearly unwell. It’s a nasty feeling, being out of your depth.Having sour crop is worse still for a chicken, I suppose, but once you’ve held a bird upside down and massaged its gullet until it vomits on your shoes, and then it recovers, you both feel rather better about things.

And now I know better, I know how to prevent its onset in the first place. I am undaunted.