Tuesday, 17 August 2010

My Life in Cars

It was only when I was having my usual Monday lunch this week with Joan that I realized that everybody is not as obsessed with cars as the Gill family. Joan says, that like her dad, she regards it as something to get her from A to B with as little trouble as possible.
On Sunday, unlike most women in the area, I went to the Morris Minor Owners Club gathering at Stanhope. It was a lovely day and all the cars were done up and shiny and their owners were standing around proudly, ready to talk. Oh, was I happy?
This is one of the loves of my life, my black six gear Mazda MX5. It's eight years old and has dents in almost every panel. I call it Jeeves, yes, we have names for our cars. And of course like the world famous gentleman's gentleman it is efficient, suave ( I like to to think it is, anyway! ) and takes care of me.

My daughter until recently had a peacock coloured Mazda called Morgan but Morgan has gone to the great garage in the sky and been replaced by something so different I gasped when I saw it.  She has bought a Nissan Qashqai. She's calling it Quentin.  When she took me to see it, black, gleaming and very large and talked to me about how it could come with diesel so it was cheaper to run, how you could see everything because it was so high up, how good it was in snow and how much room there was in the boot I thought, heavens, my kid is an adult!  You can tell an adult by the car she drives. My car fits me, one other medium sized person and a few groceries. Oh, and my sun hat.

This is one of the minis on show at the weekend. My first car was a mini.  My boyfriend, Richard, was a bit of an expert on these matters and so off we went, my dad said I could have £150 to spend and Richard managed to knock the bloke down to £125 so we got to spend the rest of it on getting it to the road. I was so excited the first time I drove it up a hill and on a motorway.  It was green. A Morris traveller.  My mother had one of these when we were small children and she could get us and our friends inside whenever she wanted to take us out. She could also get in weeks of groceries.
My dad had an Austin Sheeline, a great big silver ship. When we were small children we could all sit on the floor in the back the better to go over the bumps in the road. I can remember standing up in the back hanging on to the seat and watching the speedometer as my dad urged this great car up to a ton. A hundred miles an hour isn't heaven but it's somewhere close. We could stand on the running boards while he went very slowly and cling there for a little way up the road.
This is the ultimate in sports cars, the 1949 MG TC.  In our family we had MGs like other people had hot dinners, but nothing like this. The first sports car I ever had was a blue MG Midget when I was twenty two and had just got married. I  can remember screaming around roundabouts, sometimes twice, just for the fun of it.  It had tremendous holding ability. My sister had a yellow MGB and I had it later. My mother had various MGs including an orange MGB GT and then a green and gold one which they brought out to celebrate however many years of MGs it was at the time.

Richard began building, mending and looking after cars generally when he was very young and we had a silver and blue mini, a black and gold one, a white Ford which we called The Owl Hunter as its headlamps were always reaching for the sky instead of searching the road. We had a black mini van with our name on the side and he once bought for my birthday a beautiful yellow Scimitar with its long bonnet and automatic gears.  It used to hesitate for a second when you put it into drive and then go whoosh! Since then I've had many cars but I'm proud to say that I never bought a single one for some sensible reason, it was always the colour, the look, the engine, the little fat tyres or the lovely black leather seats.

Do other people have special cars that they love or childhood memories associated with them or perhaps romantic memories.  I remember once sitting in a beautiful blue Ford which went so fast that we used to call it  Roadrunner, above the ( fairly ) bright lights of Bishop Auckland with a very nice young man and it was a lovely dark night and the lights were twinkling and he turned to me and I waited for him to say the magic words and he said,
'Did you know that the price of bricks has gone up?'

How's that for romantic? To be fair he was building a garage at the time!

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