We were out for a walk with the children who were now aged three and six years old, and happened to pass by a friend’s house en route. There we found our friend Mike, as usual, underneath a car parked outside his home. It was a beautiful, pale blue and cream, Vauxhall Victor Super Estate with pale blue, leather upholstery. Arthur stood admiring and coveting it, his eyes gleaming like Mr. Toad’s.
We desperately needed a car, but it was completely out of the question. As always, we were living on a shoestring budget and couldn’t afford hundreds of pounds for a good second hand car. Since Arthur knew absolutely nothing about cars, except that they ran on petrol, we couldn’t risk buying an old banger.
‘If you’re interested, I could probably get you a good deal on it; I know the guy that’s selling it,’ said Mike.
In a mad moment, we succumbed to Mike’s encouragement to sit in it.
‘We could never afford a car like this. By the time it’s repaired and cleaned up, it will be right outside our means. It’s a beautiful looking car though,’ sighed Mr. Toad!
‘Leave t to me,’ said Mike. ‘I’ll see what I can come up with,’
A couple of days later Mike came back with some exciting news. The car was a hire purchase ‘snatch-back’ and the dealer was prepared to sell it ‘as is’ for £120. Mike said he would go over it with a fine toothcomb and make certain that it was running like a dream. He wouldn’t charge for his time and labour, and he thought that, for another £80, he could replace and repair anything that was necessary.
Now we had to see if the bank would lend us the £200. The bank said yes. Never was there a happier couple than the two of us. Mike got to work immediately. Every day, we would walk round the corner to see our new baby and give it a loving pat.
At last it was ready, and Mike took Arthur for a run, to get the necessary MOT certificate. Arthur had already passed his driving test before buying a car. Better to have passed the test first, than buy a car that he wasn’t allowed to drive.
We spent a whole day washing and polishing the paintwork, leather, and chrome of the new car until it sparkled and gleamed. At last, we were car owners!
We decided it would be a good idea for me to learn to drive. Since it wasn’t practical for Arthur to use the car to travel back and forth to work, the car sat outside our house all day while I pushed prams, and lugged shopping about.
I started driving lessons and loved it. Although I wasn’t ready for it, my instructor applied for a driving test for me. He said I was almost ready, might pass if I was lucky, and it would be good practice.
In those days it took about nine or ten weeks for a test application to come through. The driving instructor would sometimes, if you looked promising, book one at the beginning of the course, hoping you’d be good enough to take it when the big day arrived. We managed to afford one lesson a week for me, but I couldn’t practice in our car as it had column gears. I knew I wasn’t ready for a test, but took it anyway, and failed. I wasn’t upset because it was as I had expected. I now resumed lessons once more.
By now, Lynne was coming up to six and a half and the boys were three years younger. We had a beautiful family, a faithful dog, a lovely home and A CAR! Our cup runneth over – but not for long.
It was Sunday morning and the children were getting ready for Sunday school.
‘Mummy, my foot hurts,’ John’s voice piped up.
‘Let me look,’ I said, taking off his shoe and sock and examining his foot. I couldn’t see anything untoward.
‘It’ll soon be better,’ said Lynne, always the little mother where the boys were concerned. Lynne helped put John’s shoe back on and I tied the lace.
‘I’m sure it will be alright by the time you get to Sunday school,’ I said, thinking that a little psychology would probably do the trick. Arthur bundled them into the car and off they went, while I busied myself preparing Sunday lunch. When they returned from Sunday school, John was still limping.
To be contd…