Friday, 17 April 2009


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…


Jay said...

The limp sounds ominous. :(

I remember our first car, and how excited we were! I was ten when we got it because we lived in London and didn't really need one. We didn't go anywhere that couldn't be reached by tube or train!

granny grimble said...

How time changes things. We got ours around the time of the first motorway. I remember going for our first trip on the motorway and being quite nervous. We bravely went a few miles, took the first turn off and drove back. We were thrilled!
Yes, the limp is VERY ominous. Frightening times coming up. Watch this space!

Babs-beetle said...

You may not remember but I bought a beautiful Triumph Vitesse (pale blue) and Gill's boyfriend (at the time) David said the chassis was rotten. He frightened me so much I sold it, after only a week. I never forgot that car.

weechuff said...

Our first car was an Isetta bubble car!! Lennie was so used to driving a motorcycle, that at first he drove round with the handbrake still on, and we were wondering why the bubble car was filling with smoke!

granny grimble said...

No I don't remember that one, I only remember you have your lovely Beetle. Didn't you get it checked out at a garage? I bet you are still cross about that!

I remember your little bubble car, I thought they were so cute, now I think they looked so dangerous!

Croom said...

I don't remember Babs car but I definitely remember Sandie's little bubble! It appeared one day in front of our car whilst we were on honeymoon! They just could not keep away from us lol.

Did you ever pass a driving test Leeta? I cannot remember ever seeing you drive.

granny grimble said...


You'll have to keep reading my blog to find the answer to your question! Yo wouldn't have seen me driving because you lived in Kent, and we lived in North London.

Swubird said...


Another great peek into your young life in the UK. How wonderful it was to finally get your first car. What a great feeling. And the excitement of taking the driving test. I remember those days only too well.

Over here we first had to read the State Driver's Regulations. It was a small, narrow booklet about three inches wide by seven inches high, and it contained line after line of tiny type. Egads, I thought I'd go blind before I got through all of those regulations. Now it's much easier. The current book is fully colored, has page after page of pictures and illustrations, and doesn't contain nearly as much stuff as it did in my day.

Anyway, then came the big day for my driver's test. It went well except for one little incident. Of course, I was at the wheel and the Department of Motor vehicles man sat in the passenger's seat with his official clipboard. That's how he kept score. I passed the parallel parking (no longer required), the u-turn maneuver, and the speed limits when driving through residential neighborhoods and schools. But before we finished I came to a cross street that had both a crossing light and a stop sign. Now that was peculiar. The light was green, but the sign said stop. What should I do? Being the genius that I was, I made a quick stop and then continued on. Wouldn't you just know it, I got knocked down a point for stopping on a green light. But I passed the overall test. You can't win them all.

Sorry for taking up so much room, but your wonderful post transported my back to those wonderful days long, long ago.

Happy trails.

granny grimble said...


That was very interesting Swu, it's great to hear about how other Countries deal with the same situations. Don't ever worry about taking up space, your postings are always fascinating whatever the subject. Thank you for dropping in. Please call back for the next thrilling episode!