‘L’ of a driver.


Strange how you can read a line and it triggers all sorts of thoughts in your head. I had been reading a blog from a young cyclist in the Republic of Ireland, and reading between the lines somewhere in Munster, telling us about his time awheel.

I grow up towards the end of the Second World War, then came the depression, before things got better into the more affluent mid 1950. Cycling, too and from work was still the norm, and work was much more manual than it is in today’s world. The use of bicycles did not stop at commuter transport, bicycles for recreation was also commonplace. So in that way, we did not have to put in the effort or think too much about physical well-being, which happened naturally, and something we built up over the years.

My baby sister, on the other hand, was much more a child of the 1960s, she grew up with the motorcar. Once passed her test she bought her first car, you couldn’t get her out of it. She went everywhere in her car, in fact, if you removed the car from her life it would have been equivalent to removing her legs. She was one of the Grand Prix mums on the school run.

My baby sister had a quick mind, I never won an argument with Heather, so when she asked me to teach her to drive I knew it would not be that difficult a task.

I had taken heather out a few time over the weeks and on this occasion, she was visiting mum and dad. Hazel, a niece of one of my older sisters, was there too. I told dad I was taking Heather out for a driving lesson, dad was quite nonchalant about me using his car. We drove up and down the Cuddie Road a few times, then I suggested we might try reversing the car. No problem with the reversing.

“Now draw forward to where the white stop lines would normally be on the road” I told her “and stop.” again not a problem.

Looking left and right, there was a car coming from our left but it was a long way up the road.

“You will make it out before he gets anywhere near us” I assured her.

In gear, hand-brake off, big roar of the engine, clutch dropped, we shot across the narrow road like a bullet out of a gun. I did manage to grab the wheel and turn it but not quickly enough, the car slid sideways into the ditch. The car, that had been coming towards us stopped, and the two young men inside gave me a hand to pushed dad’s car from the ditch, no harm done, those little Morris Minors were hardy little animals.

When we were all settled back in the car, I turned to Hazel, still in the back seat, and said,

“Now don’t you tell your granddad that the car went into the ditch”, and received a firm assurance from, hazel that she would keep quiet about the incident.

Parking the car at the door, Hazel ran quickly from the car and into the house,

“Granddad, granddad”, she cried out, “Heather crashed your car” – never ask a woman to keep a secret, that’s my experience.  

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