I’m as much to blame as anyone. Right back in 1998 I got my hands on one of the first super-punchy Mk4 Volkswagen Golf diesels. That thing was a riot: an ordinary hatchback that had huge in-gear pace and seriously impressive fuel economy. And sometimes both at the same time.

I well remember a Boxing Day trip to Wymondham in Norfolk, up a deserted A11. The road was punctuated by roundabouts, the hyper-diesel’s favourite territory. Three-up, I was being trailed by a chap in an original Audi S4 Avant, which was no mean performer back then.

Volkswagen in emissions cheating scandal

However, the hyper-Golf left the stumbling Audi for dead at every roundabout exit, where the VW’s mid-range punch was almost comical. This was clearly the future: a compact, light, hatchback with serious pace and high 40mpg economy.

Six years later I was scrabbling around in the gutters of Piccadilly, central London. I was photographing the kerb stones which appeared to be thickly coated in a graphite-like substance. It was, in fact, the particulates being emitted - mainly - by London’s ageing diesel bus fleet.

What I couldn't see - although those with sensitive chests might have felt - was the nasty nitrogen oxides also being emitted by the diesel engines.