Monday, 15 July 2019

The Austin Of England

My sister's Flower Show takes place in Prestatyn on the 26th and 27th of July
Hers is more of a fete than merely a show and this year in the craft section there is a new class 87 which is simply titled " 500 Words"
The class asks for an amusing story about My First Car using 500 words
Here is my entry ( if any reader wants to enter please email their 500 words to jgsheffield@hotmail.com and I will forward them on ( entries asap)




" The Colour of French mustard and built like a Small German tank my 'Austin of England ' was an acquired taste from the get-go. Ok it was 1980 and the 6 foot CB Radio aerial and furry poo coloured seat covers tried without much success to lend the Austin 1300 a sense of modern style but nothing really could change the fact that it was an old man' s car. one that you would drive only on a Sunday and with your Pork pie trilby hat on .

I was just 18.
And I worked in faraway Rhyl at the prestigious National Westminster Bank...so
I needed to pass my driving test quick sticks....after all I was in competition with the car's other owner, my twin sister and I was desperate to eyeball all of those tropical and oh so flamboyant sounding CB radio enthusiasts who lurked along the North Wales coast

My brother in law would cheerfully take me driving around the tree lined roads of Tudor Avenue in upper Prestatyn.
I was sat on a cushion, nicked from my parents second best sofa.
With no seat belts and hardly an L plate in place  we " roared" up and down the roads of our Welsh hometown desperate to reach third gear but never quite making it

I was a difficult and cautious learner driver.

One Sunday my brother in law suggested that we try and master the art of stopping at a T junction.
It was never one of my strong points as 'going down in the gears' was a complicated procedure in a throaty 1300 with a high clutch, but I was game.

Health and safety was out of the window back in 1980 and my two small nephews, with a collection of their mates ( one strange as it may sound a neighbouring toddler just out of nappies). All piled into the back seat in a mass of grubby knees and mild hysteria.

After negiotiating six or seven " busy". Junctions up Aberconway Road, Norman Drive and
unbelievably Gronant Road , we all headed for home.

" Take her into the Drive !"my brother-in-law  instructed , buoyed up by my performance under fire
And forcing the Austin into first I hit the accelerator and roared towards the gateway like a pro.

We clipped the stone gate post with a bang louder than anything I have ever heard before , then as I hit the accelerator again instead of the brake, the Austin of England bounced heavily into a fir tree that lined the drive.
The collection of small children were sent screaming into the soft furnishings and dash board.
Strangely my brother-in-law was not fazed by any of this . he just sat laughing in the passenger seat
I sat in my furry sweat stained driving seat in shock as my diva nephew clutching his mouth kept shouting " My teeth, I've lost my teeth!!" 

Of course he hadn't lost any of his teeth,
Not even the neighbourhood toddler was injured

And strange as It would seem I passed my driving test a week later.
Happy Days!"


92 comments:

  1. Oh the thought of the collection of small children in the back of the car while you were learning to drive does make me giggle. ( but I'm glad no one was hurt )

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    1. Read some of the comments later! Oh brother!!

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  2. Elf and safety would have a field day !

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  3. Ha!
    This was a joy to read! You’ve always been prone to adventure, haven’t you?

    XoXo

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    1. I've always been prone of writing about them too

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  4. Harvest Gold? I suffered an Austin Allegro that colour.

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  5. What a good read John - you are a Pro where writing a 'picture' is concerned. Glad I wasn't in the passenger seat though. The examiner probably thought 'let's get this chap through and out of the way before he does any more damage', What's your driving like these days? With all those four leggies in the car I expect you have your Pork Pie hat on metaphorically speaking.

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    1. I think the examiner passed me because he was bored

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  6. You tell a really good story John and I always look forward to reading your blog.

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  7. Enjoyed that little tale - what a laugh

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  8. Brilliant ... we had the same car in white as our second car, a step up from the Mini with holes in the floor under the drivers side carpet and mats, bought from my first hubby's brother for £50.

    Just a point ... can a single Fir tree really 'line a drive'!!

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  9. My first car was a burgundy Reliant Robin! The first time I drove it on my own the gearstick came off in my hand. The end came when she set on fire outside the local shop! That was bad enough, but this was pre mass mobile phone ownership and the lady in the shop didn't understand that the fire brigade needed calling. When they did, eventually, arrive much to my embarrassment they closed the road.
    I can't think why I was never keen on driving and haven't had a car in 13 years!

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  10. Really very informative and creative. This sharing concept is a good way to enhance knowledge. We are top Mobile App Development.

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  11. Holy moly, LOL! I hope you win!

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    1. Looking at these comments most of you could ente and win too

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  12. What I remember about my first car is how unreliable it was. It needed to be heavily choked when starting up and the batteries didn't last very long. The bodywork rusted quickly and I was forever painting over the rust.

    I'll gloss over the regular hormone-fueled shenanigans in the back seat.

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  13. And I passed my driving test in it a year or two later sans insurance! Some very happy memories of that car and it’s advantures!!

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    1. Oh I had forgotten that! I think the car knew it's way up to Ruthin school and Lowther college too

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    2. I remember my very first driving lessons that car too, equally without insurance! Clearly a family tradition!What would I do without you hun! Nx

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  14. My first car was a cream Austin 1100 inherited from my Nan which with the help of my uncle I spray painted red to make it more exciting. After that I had a succession of minis.

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  15. In the 60's, my husband lived in London.
    He bought an Austin Healey ..he loved that car so much that he had it shipped home when he returned to the US.
    British Racing Green...the top was a major PITA when putting it up, like in an unexpected rain storm :)

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  16. My people always had Austins, then they changed to Rovers. All very British! My first car was a white VW Beetle 323 EBP; I loved that car.

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    1. I always wanted a beetle , to me they were really hip
      " Herbie goes to Hollywood"

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  17. Anonymous1:26 pm

    My first car was a 1968 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, which automatically made me designated driver - I think the record was 8 passengers. Thanks for rekindling memories.

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    1. How did you get 8 in it?

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    2. Anonymous12:01 am

      It was really huge - two passengers in the front, the remaining (smaller) six were in the back seat.

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  18. You all lived to tell the tale!

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  19. . . . . . . and what is the prize? I'm 100% certain you will be the winner. Fabulous story, but those poor little kids. The toddler probably should have stayed in nappies - or perhaps you needed them that day!!!!!

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  20. Never had a first or ANY car. Are they those tinny-looking things with four wheels (usually)?

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    1. Hey Raymondo who needs a car when you have charisma

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  21. That was a good story and well told. Does punctuation count. Sorry, but the English teacher has to ask.

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    1. Didn't you miss a question mark, P.P.? :-)

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  22. Great story and wonderfully told! I learned to drive in an assortment of vehicles on the farm. An ancient truck with the shifter on the stick and a push button start, an old VW bug my father had converted into a bush buggy, and lastly my father's car-a used police car that he purchased at auction. It was a monster with a huge engine. First day driving it , I ran it into a tree. I had a broken, bloody nose for my troubles, but luckily no one else was injured. No air bags or shoulder belts in those days, my face bounced off the steering wheel. It took me two more years to get up the courage to do the test.
    Barb

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  23. lovely story - You have a way with the words!!! my first car was a 1971 Ford Maverick - the horn was duct taped to the steering wheel and on my first solo ride i jumped a curb and one of the motor mounts broke off - my Grandpa clamped it back on and off I went. 1979 was certainly a different time for drivers.

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    1. See above my best friend at the time had his test in my car and wasn't insured

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  24. Good story...not dissimilar to mine. In 1988 I, having just passed my test, I bought an ancient Morris Minor with 'trafficators'. My then boyfriend drove me to pick it up, and I drove home through the centre of Wolverhampton, attempting hand signals for indicators as the trafficators were not working. Somehow I got back to Kidderminster in one piece and attempted to reverse up our steep and narrow drive, demolishing two panels of our meighbour's brand new fence in the process (Morris unharmed). said boyfriend then proceeded to begin 'restoring' it...it never moved again and eventually he sold it back to the family I bought it from!

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    1. We now own a Morris Traveller that is over 50 years old. My husband has been lovingly restoring it. I love the Morris Minors too.

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    2. Oh I would love a morris minor estate the ones with the wood trim and back doors

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    3. My dad had a Morris Minor estate as you mention. If I recall it had a push button start on the floor. I laid in the back reading a book when we moved house once. It had all the last bits and pieces of moving piled around me. Nice car, I don't remember what ever happened to it.

      Fab story by the way.

      Jo in Auckland

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  25. Barbara Anne4:15 pm

    What a delightful story!

    My first car was a Vega hatchback and I'd go around many city blocks to avoid one intersection where there was a traffic light at the top of a hill. I had a horror of failing to shift gears properly and sliding back into the car behind me. Life is too short for that kind of stress. Better to simply avoid the intersection when coming from that direction! All of my cars since then have had automatic transmissions. Oh, yes!

    Hugs!

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    1. I used to crawl up to the junction then hit the accelerator when there was a gap. I hated using the clutch

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    2. I learned to drive in a car with a clutch..now I can impress the boys lol
      I went to school with this great guy who was in a horrific accident and lost both legs.
      His father bought him a fabulous Corvette and had the gears etc made to work manually...amazing.

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  26. My husband insisted on teaching me to drive on his precious stick shift newish car. My toddler children were in the back seat as he screamed and shouted that I was going to “break” his car. He was shouting, the kids were crying and I was having an anxiety attack. I went home, called a driving school, took about 6 lessons and practiced on a neighbor’s car. I got my license a month later driving my mom’s car. I told him that I passed on my first try, and he told me that didn’t mean that I knew how to drive.

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    1. My father was the same with my mother and she got out and never drove in her life

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  27. I said that I am "through with you" and I am. Still, that, so far, hasn't stopped me from reading your blog. I am waiting for my boredom threshold to go down.

    Reason I am writing that I am amazed at your sycophantic readership, indeed your own nonchalance. If you (and your readers) think that story is funny think again. Think if something HAD gone WRONG. Not so funny now, is it? Let us be reckless, not least in our first car, but let us keep the innocent out it.

    U

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    1. Emotional vampire strikes again!!!

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    2. Anonymous5:26 pm

      WorcsAnnie Well said. They will drain you unless thwarted ruthlessly.

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    3. Well thank you for commenting , even though you promised you never would again.
      I bet you just couldn't contain yourself !!!!
      The funny point of the story is it's irony!
      This point you missed and by doing so, made a fool out of yourself
      The irony that 30 odd years ago it was deemed ok for a learner driver to drive with 6 small kids on the back seat
      Of COURSE it was dangerous , of course everyone reading this would understand it was dangerous

      THAT IS WHY THE ENTRY WAS INDEED FUNNY, !!!!!!
      Irony in hindsight!
      Geddit!

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    4. She never keeps her promises of staying away, too bad! Go away ursula, no one cares what you think of us.

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    5. You are full of surprises, John. I had expected my comment to be deleted - as so often. I like people who don't perform to expectation.

      If what you related was an exercise in "irony" I will have to revisit what irony actually means since it escapes me in the context of your story. However, I'll take your word for it.

      One thing, and you may recognize this, that a lot of hair raising stories are funny in the retelling - provided NO damage was done.

      And, to not let myself off lightly (and there isn't any irony to be found - not even with a magnifying glass) over my life time I'd say I did three totally unforgivable things when driving. Have I told anyone about them? Hell No. There'd be no irony in retelling. It was just shit. Fullstop.

      U

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    6. 'One thing, and you may recognize this, that a lot of hair raising stories are funny in the retelling - provided NO damage was done.'
      That was my point so why did you bother to post your first comment?
      For someone who 'will never post again" you seem to be posting a great deal

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  28. countrygal4:58 pm

    Back in the early 80s (we are of the same era John) one of my best pals had a Vauxhall Chevette, in our group of friends we had numerous hours of 'fun' push starting it down hills after visiting the pub: we re-named it the Vauxhall 'Shove it'. Happy days.

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    1. I used to get 6 CB ers in mine every Tuesday for ice skating nights

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  29. My first car was a 1956 Buick Special that was 10 years old when I got it. It was pink and whilte on the outside with a black and white interior. The radio worked like a champ. I drove it back and forth to college on a daily basis. The heater was always on so winter was its best season. Once I edged between a car and the curb at a stoplight and the other driver decided to turn and crunched into my car. We looked at one another and shrugged and went on our respective merry ways. It was built like a tank.

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  30. Great story! What a good sport your brother in law was!

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  31. My first car was a Ford Fairline 1965/66 I believe. White with red leather interior that I purchase from a little old couple. 'Careful with the touchy breaks!' they shouted as I roared off. I drove an elder uncle and cousins to market on a dirt road with a five mile dirt tail behind me and took the turn off without breaking or down shifting. The car performed like a charm but my cousins and elder uncle literally stood up in the car while taking the turn off at 40-50 mph. I think I broke a few eggs and squashed the bread. LOL

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    1. Ooops a Ford Falcon not Fairlane.

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    2. Red leather! Very Jayne Mansfield

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  32. My first was a white Triumph Herald. Doube de-clutch job. It developed a minor electrical fault. Every time I put my foot on the brake, the headlights came on. I booked it in to a garage, but the night before, going home from work, I had to slow down to turn right. There was a police car in front. I flashed - several times, as I put my foot on the brake. Nice policeman got out of his car. "Are you alright, love?" I muttered and spluttered, smiled nicely, and was allowed to go on my way. All he said was "Oh, it's a bit of a Herbie, is it?"

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    1. Double de coutch..just a bit before my time lol

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  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  34. You have a talent for making any story interesting, which will stand you in good stead in this contest! I remember the days of no seat belts and kids squashed into the back. I myself spent many miles perched on the backseat looking over the front seat between my parents' heads. Imagine if we'd been in a head-on collision.

    I nearly mowed down a road worker on my first driving test. When I think about it now I still get a shiver of terror. Needless to say, I failed and had to take the test again.

    My first car had something wrong with the carburetor and when it acted up I had to jam the accelerator into passing mode until I reached the speed limit, then back off while it slowed down, repeat over and over for a two hour trip home from my summer job. Happened twice before my dad, a mechanic, finally figured out the problem.

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    1. My cousin beebed his horn on his test at someone walking across a zebra crossing

      He failed

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  35. My first car was a mini and I called it Mouse. My second car was a grey Austin 1100 and I called it Roger Rat. Climbing a very steep hill one day with a full car I shouted "Come on Roger, you can do it!". The guy on the back seat went pale, his name was Roger.

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  36. You inspire all of us. My grandfather's 1957 Chevy 2 door sedan drove like a truck. After several years, my then husband hit a pole, and all the lead in the door fell out. My grandfather had hit a lot of things with that car, and I got to find them all.

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  37. Poor John! Where I grew up in the US Midwest it was common for kids to get a car for their 116th or 17th birthday [after completing Drivers Ed of course]. My dad chose my car, a high powered classic red Pontiac Firebird with a huge V-8 engine and huge horsepower. [he loved classic cars and had a bucket list of those he hoped to own] Just the thing for a timid teenage girl, tho I did think it was cool.

    lizzy

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  38. Ha! Love your story and it should do well in the competition! It takes me back to the cars in the old days - built like tanks, no seatbelts and powerful engines! And what child from those days has not hit their chin on the dash board at least once!

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    1. Reading the posts it is clear that we all lived our 1970s-80s lives on the risk taking edge..without really realising it xx
      Thank you for your comments

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  39. My first car was a 1960 Ford Prefect, garage kept by a little old man. Passed my driver's test at sixteen, and got my car a month later. I gathered up the neighborhood children and took them all to Southport, when we arrived home later that evening, my mum nearly fainted, to think I had drove on the motorway, with a car full of kids.
    I thought I did great, and so did my passengers 😀

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  40. Loved your recollection of your first car, it's a winner !

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  41. She never keeps her promises....

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  42. Dad insisted I get a driver license, then handed me keys to everything on the farm and said, get yourself wherever. Two pickup trucks, and a huge Chrysler.

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  43. A 1956 English Ford Anglia panel truck. Oh what a
    FUN vehicle that was on date Nite.

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  44. My first car was a blue Citroën Deux chevaux 2CV or 'Duck' as we called it in Holland. The gear stick came horizontally out of the dashboard of course which was a little confusing at first, the suspension was so soft it would swerve almost on it's side if you took a turn too fast, the bottom was so rotten out that in places you could see the road below you and sometimes it would only start if you took a big hammer to the starter! One sunny winter day I decided to paint it black with gold rims and accents. I didn't get any further than the back door that day, and that night it froze and caused the paint to form a pattern of frosty flowers.

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  45. I was the proud owner of a Heinkel - the 3-wheel bubble car where the whole front of the car opened up to get in and out. Went home for my lunch one day and pulled up at the kerb, but skidded on the icy road, straight into a pile of snow that had been dumped there from my neighbour's drive-clearing exploits. There was no reverse gear on the Heinkel, none needed as it turned in its own length. Jammed firmly into the packed snow, I couldn't open the door and had to sit there, shivering, until my neighbour's wife returned from her shopping trip and raised the alarm.

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  46. Enter? And compete with your brilliance? Not a chance. You deserve to win a car. Maybe even an Austin 1300!

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