I REMEMBER reading somewhere that the way to spot a working class car owner is by the cleanliness of their motor.
If that's right, then my dad wears his humble roots proudly on the gleaming bonnet of his five-door Honda. Seriously, you could eat your dinner off his car mats, they're that clean.
Such is his fastidiousness when it comes to car maintenance that no one in our family was the least bit surprised that the Christmas present he was most excited about was the electric tyre pump my mum got him from Halfords.
He insisted on using it to check the tyres on my own infamously temperamental jalopy when I paid a visit home at the weekend.
Thankfully he managed to resist tutting when he found they were a good dozen or so PSI below the optimum level.
But when we opened my car doors to plug his little gizmo into the cigarette lighter I could tell he was surveying the flotsam and jetsam of my life that littered the interior with a sense of dismay.
Empty Hula Hoop bags and chocolate wrappers were stuffed into the door pockets, along with what may once have been a banana.
There were scribbled notes and old car park tickets on the floor and the car mats looked as if someone actually had tried to eat their dinner off them.
It was at this point that I felt shamed into asking if I could borrow the vacuum to clean up a bit. Clearly ecstatic, he literally ran inside to fetch it (which is no mean feat at his age), along with his ultra-long extension cable from the garage.
And then the genetically-inherited obsession with perfection kicked in as I spent the next 45 minutes sucking up every last molecule of dust and purging it of all the accumulated rubbish.
Afterwards, I decided to test how far he would go to ensure I left with a clean car by asking him to hold my car mats while I beat them with one of his golf clubs.
"Okay," he said. "Just as long as it's not my new driver."
There was a slight interruption when he realised he had lost his new tyre inflator. "Do you know," he said, "I spend more time looking for things these days than I do actually doing them."
I eventually spotted it sitting on the top of his step ladder in the garage. "Ha!", he said, shaking his head, "you found it before me and you weren't even looking for it."
Then, once I'd finished, I uttered the fateful words that all it needed now was a good trip to the car wash.
Sure enough my dad disappeared into the house and re-emerged moments later with two buckets of water – one soapy, one normal – along with his chamois, two sponges and a pair of old toothbrushes for the hub caps.
We worked together in near silence for the next half-an-hour, me lathering the car and him rinsing and wiping it down with the chamois.
He raised an eyebrow when I started on the windows first rather than his preferred starting point of the roof, but I told him I'd always been of the opinion that it was better to do the glass when the water was at its cleanest and he seemed rather impressed.
Once we'd finished we stood back and surveyed our handiwork.
"That looks a lot better, doesn't it?" he said. "Yes," I said. "And much more attractive to car thieves."
But deep down, as we packed up and went inside to enjoy my mum's Sunday roast, I was just as chuffed as he was.