Thursday, October 26, 2006

I like driving in my car!

Finally we got our dream car. A new Mini! Not the retro oldie but the newer model. Lee and I had a 'life is too short' moment and thought 'fuck it'. Hey, what's a little debt for so much pleasure. Lee is the main driver and I get a shot now and again. The truth is - I'm too scared to drive it. I've never used power steering before and find it so strange. It will take some getting used to. The last time I drove it my squeals included - 'It's moving!' and 'I only touched the wheel!'. Oh dear.

We decided to keep hold of the Micra for me and it's fantastic - so great to get out more during the day. It also helps when I'm feeling quite ill and need to save energy. I love the Micra; bashed on one side, (thanks to the pillar that jumped into Lee's path in the Safeway, Byres Road carpark) scrapped on the other side (thanks to a bus or van on Great Western Road) and the window handle on the passenger side that always falls off, not to mention the cassette/radio that doesn't work. It looks like a giant has picked it up and dropped it down again thanks to the squashes on each side. My sound system is an old personal stereo hooked up to little plug-in speakers, rock'n'roll people. Don't get me wrong, this is a wonderful car. It's hardly needed much repairs over the years and has never broken down. I just pray it passes the MOT in December with little costs.

So why do I love the Mini? Well, Mini cars have been in my family since the 1960s. My parents had lots of different models over the years. My favourite (seen only in photos) is the maroon Mini estate my parents took to Africa in the late 1960s. My dad took a ship to Cape Town and drove the Mini estate all the way up to Zambia. With no air conditioning. And passing wild animals. I'll try and get a copy of a photo to show you. We also had Minis when I was growing up, my favourite being the brown one. My parents sold it to my Papa and I never forgave them, convinced that they had ripped him off! Not that they had, but in my childish imagination I was sure that my Papa was driving a death trap. He drove it quite happily until he died in his 80's.

Part of the reason I wanted to write this blog was to remember my Papa. A friend's grandfather died just recently and she kindly shared some happy memories of him in her blog. The Mini and my Papa stay connected in my memories. My Uncle Ian often tells the story of my Papa, out driving the Mini, waiting at junctions looking left and right, and though the road was clear, he'd wait until a car came along and he'd pull out in front of it, screeching away. He learned to drive before there was a driving test. I imagine that it must have been very hard driving in those days, apparently you had to 'double de-clutch'. Not sure what that means but it sounds complicated.

I'm sure my Papa would love the new Mini. I also wish he'd got to meet Lee, they'd have gotten on wonderfully, I just know it. My favourite photograph of Papa is in black and white, and he's sitting on his motorbike. Must have been the 1950s. From the 1980s we have a photograph of Papa at Christmas time. It's after the dinner and he's wearing my sister's leather biker jacket, his fist clenched in the air and I remember him shouting - "We are the people!".


Blogger Mo said...

Hi Catherine

Your blog brought back memories of my dad too - he also learnt to drive before there was a driving test. When they introduced the test he passed on the 4th attempt - picked up all sorts of bad habits. Because brakes used to heat up in early cars he got into the habit of going down into a low gear to go down hill. He kept this habit till his 80s when he eventually stopped driving. Thanks for the memories :-))

9:46 AM  
Blogger Jo said...

Ooooh, photos of the mini in Africa! Sounds amazing :) Can't wait to see that. Your Papa sounds like a real character... I love sharing funny stories of old people, they really are strange creatures. Mum has acquired some really brill photos from Gran that I'll be scanning, would love to see the ones of your Papa in action! :D

9:50 AM  
Blogger moosh said...

Happy mini adventures! I liked to read your story of your grandad. Jo's and yours have made me relive my own grandad memories, I will share soon

10:21 AM  
Blogger CatherineNiven said...

Thanks, writing this blog has brought back so much stuff I'd forgotten about. I will be raiding the photo box very soon! x

10:39 AM  

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