29 January 2021
I have already mentioned in an earlier post the black 1937 Ford Eight that my dear Dad had. But that, in time, had to be changed and Dad got a green Ford Popular. It wasn’t new, but it was fine for us. Then a policeman that we knew saw it and asked Dad about it, as this same policeman had just got a brand new car and the registration number of his new car wasn’t too far different from Dad’s Ford Popular. It seems Dad’s had been re-registered, for some reason! Anyway, we kept that but then a while later Dad saw a Ford Anglia, it was a really lovely turquoise blue with a bright white roof. This made it a deluxe model and it was a special, as it‘d had a bigger engine put in (technically, it was a 1340cc Consul Classic engine with a 3-bearing crankshaft) along with anti-roll bars on the back. Sadly the original owner’s son, who had wanted to use this special car for racing, was killed in an accident so the owner sold the car. Up to now my Dad had been used to a car with only three forward gears and this one had four, so getting it into reverse took some working out but we managed it! This car went well, but a while later the 1340cc engine needed replacing, so an exchange engine was organised. Ford did exchange engines, so Dad asked to have the Anglia Super, 1200cc engine fitted. But Ford only did exchange engine upgrades, so Dad had to have a 1500cc Cortina engine (which had a 5-bearing crankshaft) fitted! This made it very much a GT version. But after a while my Mum’s back was starting to become a bit painful due to a bad war injury, so Dad sold the Ford Anglia and got a green Austin 1100. Whilst we were on holiday down in North Devon, this 1100 needed a bit of repair so to help the garage owner, I and my Dad sold petrol etc there at the garage whilst the garage owner fixed the car!
Then a few years later Dad retired from teaching and bought a brand new car, an Austin 1300. It was a really bright yellow colour and when we took ourselves down for a holiday in North Devon, we called in for petrol and the same garage owner took one look and burst out laughing, saying “Who spilt the mustard pot, then?”. We all had a laugh at that. Years passed and I got through my driving test. I was now allowed to drive Dad’s car, I would take Mum out sometimes to her Mother’s Union meetings. Only once did Dad let me drive his car with him in it, after a box of matches exploded in his hand and burnt his fingers just as we were going to an important event. But Dad wasn’t a good passenger in his own car, nor was he too keen on my style of driving, but it was the way I’d been taught. So as I slowed the car down, gently bringing the car to a stop, Dad said “Are you going to stop, or not???”
After a while I was able to get my own car. It was a Ford Anglia, in not too bad a state but the nearside front wing sadly needed a bit of repair, so with a bit of help from a neighbour we patched it up with some chicken wire and filler until I could afford a new wing. I’m not so sure if we could get away with that now! The new wing was fitted as soon as possible and a while afterwards I drove down to London to visit friends of our family. But it was upsetting when, whilst changing lanes around Hyde Park Corner, a car in another lane tried to push me out of the way. Our cars even collided, but it was only a minor scrape, so why did it have to be the new wing that been scraped! The other car didn’t stop. When I then arrived at our friends house, he simply shrugged his shoulders, it was common down there. He then showed me how to remove the scrape and polish it out. Not a single mark showed!
My next car was a decent-looking Austin 1100, but one day my eldest brother was visiting, he looked at it and showed me how badly rusted the rear sub-frame was. It seemed that it had not been a good buy, so I said just that to it – goodbye! Then a local car dealer saw me looking round and tried to sell me a particular car, but I’d spotted one which was right at the back of all the rows of cars they had for sale. It took some work to get at it, but I then drove it, I had a friend who worked in a garage check it over and I agreed to buy this car, a blue Ford Capri 1600. I liked that car, it was lovely. However, as I have mentioned briefly in another post, a while later I had an accident in that and sadly it was not at all possible to repair it. I’d had a busy week away working, I was tired, I was less than two miles from my flat and I made a mistake. These things happen.
I needed another car, so I went back to the same garage I’d bought the Capri. I saw the same salesman who was really, genuinely delighted to see me. Others had seen my old damaged Capri and remembered me, so they had told the salesman! He was glad to know that I was all right. I bought a maroon Ford Escort from them and it served me well for a few years, taking me to Leek up in Staffordshire one February, where it sat for a week, not being touched, almost covered in snow whilst I worked at a BT mobile exhibition! We didn’t do much trade that week. Then I returned to the car, scraped the ice and snow off the windows and was really delighted when it started on the first turn of the key. My next purchase was a bright yellow Ford Fiesta, same garage, same salesman, same excellent trade-in and everyone was happy.
By now a bit of promotion came my way, so I bought a bungalow. Shortly after moving in to the property, I was told that my promotion was not to be confirmed and I was demoted. It wasn’t my fault, I was doing an excellent job, it was for ‘operational reasons’. So I had to sell the car as I wanted to keep that bungalow. Then a friend of ours, a local vicar, suggested I buy a small motor bike, a Yamaha T80. It was only 80ccc, but my dear mother was not at all happy about me riding a motor bike! A good friend who was a very skilled bike rider and had his own Kawasaki 650 taught me excellent road craft skills. But I am sure you can imagine my mother’s delight when, a couple of years later, one of my brothers told me about a car he’d seen that I could afford! It was a black Austin Mini 850, it was a good car and I did a great many happy miles in that, especially as promotion moved me over to Leicester. But I literally wore that car out, so when I saw an advert from a Fiat dealer I went over to see what they had and after bit of discussion I drove away with a bright red Fiat Panda. This was a brand new car, I think the dealer had to sell a certain number of Fiat cars by a certain date! That car I really did wear out, I did over 100,000 miles in it!
So I had to sell the Fiat and change to a different vehicle. I had rather liked Land Rover, so I bought a blue Series 3. I had it checked over before purchasing it, but the problems weren’t obvious as they were with the engine. That took a bit of fixing, including taking the garage owner to court, but it was all sorted out. Then, a few years later, when my eldest brother was closing his business, I bought his green Land Rover 90. My old Series 3 went abroad, I think to work on a farm in Spain! I kept the 90 for a while, then managed to get a blue Land Rover Discovery. Now that was not like any other Land Rover, it was really comfortable, with a heater that worked, I was absolutely delighted with that.
But sadly after a number of years my health deteriorated and I could not risk causing harm to anyone else or myself through my driving. So that had to stop. I surrendered my licence for medical reasons. Thus ended my driving career, forty-seven years after passing my driving test. However, I now qualified for a bus pass, this meant that I got free local bus travel as well as free train travel within a certain area! But at the moment, Covid and my health has put a stop to travelling. In a while things will improve, I have no doubt of that.
To finish this week, a bit of history.
On the arrival in Crete of Theseus, King Minos’ daughter Ariadne fell in love with him and, on the advice of Daedalus, gave him a ball of thread (known as a clew), so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth. I am sure we can imagine Ariadne’s parting words…
“Don’t worry, Theseus, it’s only a Labyrinth – what can possibly go wrong!”