Thursday, January 18, 2018



A strange black car come driving along our lane way one afternoon. I say strange because only one man had a car in our area, that I knew of. This, no doubt, aroused some interest not only from us kids and mum but also from our neighbors. Along the Lane way it chugged. Surprise of surprises, it stopped at the bottom of our field, right opposite the big old iron gate. All three of us started running down field to see who it was, slowing down as we neared, not knowing what to expect.
     What a shock when mi dads' working pal, Jimmy Crossly, got out of car. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was mi dad sitting behind wheel.
"Where d'ya get car dad?", I yelled out over top of motor.
"I bought it for tha' mum so she can learn to drive."
"Take us for a drive dad."
"Take us for a drive.", we all said, twice in unison.
     With that, mi dad opened back door and we all climbed in. All three kids and Dinah as well. With the gate now closed, we drove up the field. Jimmy said to mi dad,
"It probably won't make it up field on wet days George."
"I'll leave it parked down bottom when it's wet.", sez mi dad. "All right you kids, sit down and keep your clogs off a' upholstery."
     Up the field we go, in style this time. Dad parks car right out front of farm house door.
"Look out dad!", I sez. "You'll go right into front room!"
"It's all reet.", sez mi dad. "Your old knows what he's doing."
"Where d'ya get that bloody car from?", mi mum sez to him.
"I bought it for thee lass. Tha's been whittering about learning to drive so ya don't have to walk everywhere. Well now's ya chance wench."
"Where did ya get money from for a car George. Far as I know we're poor.", she sez.
"I won some moneyh on races wench. I put a couple a pounds on an 100 to 1 long shot and it come home first! Old George Swindells nobodys' mug."
     With that, mi dad and Jimmy jump out a car and walked around it.
"Don't you kids touch ought in there or you'll not get in car again!"
     For once we were all content just to sit in back looking around.
"It's an old Lancaster wench. It's got a good motor and dashboards, all walnut. The seats are genuine leather." sez mi dad.
"Jump in lass.", mi dad sez. "I'll take ya for a ride round field."
     Very nervously (or maybe shyly) mi mum gets in passenger side front.
"Close that door and we'll be off wench."
     Dad pushes the stick shift into gear, lets his foot off clutch slowly and revs' motor a bit. The car moves forward, smooth as ya please.
"There's nowt to it lass. You just push clutch in, double it and off into another gear."
     The car picked up speed now as mi dad drove around field in long grass. Over a few bumps we go. Down a few holes we go. The old car never even felt it.
"Jimmy's gonna learn ya to drive wench. He's a good driving instructor. Besides, tha' never listens to nowt I say woman. By this time mi mum and dad had started having a few rows. Round and round we go. It was great fun!
"Can I have a go dad?", I pipes up.
"Alright. Wait till we stop. You can sit on mi knees and steer it."
     When the old car stopped, I jumped out and round the front I go, straight up on mi dads knees, clogs and all!
"Bloody hell! Watch where you're putting those clogs lad! You'll bloody cripple a man!"
"Let me put it in first gear dad.", I sez.
"All right. Push stick over there and then push forward."
      rrrrrr! The gear box makes a crunching sound.
"Wait till I got clutch in, ya gormless sod!", he sez. "Alright, now steer it over yonder along wall side."
      Soon as it started going towards wall, he'd pull wheel back around. What a great time we had. Sheila and Sandra both got to have a steer of car. When we'd all had our turn, it was mums' turn. She was too big to sit on his knee so mi dad sits in back with us three. Jimmy sits in front with mi mum.
"Hurray, Hurray! Mum's going to drive!" We yelled.
"Come on mum, go fast around field!"
"Oh shut up Richard! I can't concentrate with you yelling and screaming in mi ear hole."
     Jimmy sez to mi mum,
"Alright Iris, don't worry. There's nowt to it. Just push clutch in, then push gear stick across and forward into first gear, rev engine slowly and let foot of clutch slowly."
     Mi mum pushes clutch in, revs engine like hell, lets clutch out too fast and the old Lancaster takes off like a kangaroo with buckshot in its' bum. It lurched and jumped for about 25 feet  before Jimmy got it out of gear.
     Me and mi sisters were shouting and yelling,
"Come on mum! Go faster mum, go faster!"
"Will you kids sit down! I can't concentrate with all that racket going on!"
     Jimmy gives mi mum instructions again. Low and behold, same thing happens, only this time we were quiet.
"Hey mum.", I sez. "You did better when were yelling and screaming. Maybe we should start up again?"
"I'll give you something to yell and scream for in a minute."
"Don't worry now Iris. Try it again.", Jimmy sez.
     Same thing happens again and again and again. Mum didn't drive around field, she jumped around field.
Mi dad says, "There'll be no bleeding gear box left in a bit, wench!" That's enough for today. Better try again tomorrow. Ya might do better then."
     My mum was not amused, to say the least. Better not to tease her about her driving till she gets a bit better. Mi dad gave Jimmy a couple of dozen eggs for his teaching time and asked him to come back on weekend.

    Eventually, mi mum learned to drive round field between hops and jumps. Finally the day came when Jimmy said,
"All right Iris, we'll go out on road now."
"I don't think mi dad was too keen on that idea but Jimmy was in charge of driving lessons. The big bottom gate was opened and the jumping kangaroo was let out of field. Three kids and mi dad in back, mum and Jimmy in front. We're off!
     Out the gate and hard right, narrowly missing a 5 foot high stone pillar, on the lane way we go. Mum was doing quite well until she tried to shift gears. Each time she did the gear shift she would look down to see what she was doing and the car started heading for the stone walls.
"Look out mum, wench, Iris!!" (she was a woman known by many names, was my mother)
"Don't worry.", she sez. "As long as you watch me Jimmy I'll be all right."
     Out to end of lane way and past graveyard and church. Everyone, except Mum, took particular notice of graveyard. Everyone was praying, except me and mi mum.  Round front of church and out to main road. (Now then, some main roads in Yorkshire hills are not real wide, so bear that in mind.)
     Mum was going great till Jimmy turned round and started talking to mi dad.
"Who owns that place George?"
     Mi dad was just about to tell him when the car starts to 'bump'. As Jimmy turns around, his side of car is running alongside gutter in road. A calm and collected man was our Jimmy. (We called him Uncle Jimmy). He slowly reached out and turned the steering wheel out into road again. He never batted an eyelid. In the back seat, three kids were screaming and George was cursing under his breath.
     I don't know how we got home that day, but we did. It was lucky for all of us there was not much traffic on those roads.
     Mum was sort of improving a bit but still needed watching while she drove. The kangaroo hops were all but gone now so Jimmy sez,
"Next weekend, we'll go to Littleborough."
     Littleborough was Jimmys' home town so he knew the way to get there.
     The weekend arrived. We all pile in and off we go. The seating arrangement was always the same. Dad and the kids in back. Jimmy and mum in front.
     We got there in one piece. Mi dad and Jimmy decide to go into pub for a beer. They were gone for quite a while. When they got back, they were smiling more than usual and having a couple of jokes together. Dad brought us all some Smiths' crisps and bottles of pop. He brought mi mum a Shandy. Jimmy said,
"Let's go back another way as it's very beautiful scenery."
     Mum finishes  her drink and away we go. Off in the distance I saw a large lake. I pipes up.
"There's a big lake up ahead."
     Jimmy sez,
"We have to drive around that lake to get home. That's why we're going back this way. Mi mum started to get nervous.
"Maybe you should drive Jimmy."
"Not me Iris, You're doing right well you are. Just keep your eyes on road lass."
     Jimmy was turning around more than usual on the way home, still laughing and joking with mi dad. We'd started driving around lake road now and mi mum was getting more nervous.
"Just keep your eyes on road Iris. You're doing all right."
     Talk, Talk, Talk, that's all they did on way home. I think it was beer talking.
     All of a sudden, SPLASH! SSSSSS! CRUNCH!  The old Lancaster ground to a halt.
"Bloody hell!", Jimmy sez.
"Oh Shit!", mi dad sez.
"Ahhhhhh!" three kids scream.
     Mi mum had run off road into lake! The front end of car was stuck in mud right up to front axels. The water was coming in front door at bottom.
"Everybody our back doors!", yells Jimmy.
      He wasn't' so calm now. Mi dad swearing like anything, not under his breath either. Dad and three kids exit car. Jimmy mi mum crawl over back seat.  There was steam coming out of front of car as we all stood and watched.
"Will it sink dad?", I ask/
"No.", he sez. "But it won't have done it much good."
"It wasn't my fault!",  mi mum says. "You should have been watching where we were going!"
"Now what!", sez mi dad.
"I'll hitch a ride back to town." sez Jimmy. "I have a friend who has a tow truck. You just wait for me here. I won't be long."
     By now, mi dad sobered up and he wasn't in the best of moods. Mi mum only had a shandy and she was in a worse mood.  Me and mi sisters sat on a big stone by side of road and played 'Eye spy with my little eye.' Frst one to see Uncle Jimmy was the winner.
     Mi mums' driving career sort of fizzled out after that so she had to go back to Shakes Pony. Dad sold the car and bought another motor bike.

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