Its cars. Buying cars. =-iooiiui (apologies for that interruption that was my husband getting annoyed by my typing at the table) Never mind that he is noisily chomping his way through a fruit crumble (yes can you tell that we are nearing a decade of marriage !).
We cant stop looking at Auto Trader. This was a problem when I was a kid – and when he was a kid too. We are both petrol heads (I wish we had horses in common too then he would be a bit more supportive of the idea of buying a horse and would ignore the fact that they are, I quote, “a bloody money-pit”).
Back in the 90s I would make sure my homework was done after school and then switch on the TV every Thursday night to watch Jeremy Clarkson and his bouffant hairdo pontificate wittily over a car. I loooved Top Gear (although I thought Tiff Needell was a bit of a twat). I enjoyed it when Vicky Butler-Henderson was on the team too as she squeaked her way round corners as if she was Barbara Windsor in a bikini being chased by a horny man.
When I wasn’t watching Top Gear (and collecting the magazines) I was looking through Auto Trader for my first car. I desperately wanted a VW – didn’t care what model, I guessed it would be a polo with my parent’s budget. The years passed and the time came to get my first wheels and my parents bought my car secretly and were going to reveal it to me on my birthday. But then one day my Mum let the cat out of the bag when she was talking to me about insurance. She said, “and when we have insured the Golf….blah ….blah…b;ah” The rest was a blur as I leapt around the room screaming ‘yes’ ‘yes’ ‘yes’ like the Harry met Sally film clip. “Why are you so excited/” said my Mum completely oblivious to what she had just said. “I’m getting a Golf, I’m getting a Golf, I’M GETTING A GOLF!!! Whoop Whoop. The penny dropped and my Mum clapped her hand over her mouth, “Did I just say Golf, oh bloomin bloomin”. I didn’t care that it wasn’t quite my birthday yet. It was the best birthday present ever.
She was called Gertrude and she was that kind of weird VW Green – not dark green or light green or evergreen – it would be best described as Golf Green. Describing her colour proved tricky when describing my location to the AA (which I had to do on frequent occasions) particularly when it had been raining. When I described it as “sort of Green” I remember the AA man saying “Golf Green?” , “Yep that’s it you’ve found her”. Every time I started the engine I had to go through this bizarre ritual, which felt like I was trying to communicate with the engine gods, either that or waking Gertrude up gently.
1) Put key in ignition and pull choke out (wake Gertrude up by whispering in her ear)
2) Wait for all the red lights to come on (plump up her pillows and offer her some tea)
3) Pump the accelerator 5 times (give her some toast and marmalade)
4) Turn the engine then rev it for a while until the cloud behind you has disappeared and passers by can remove gas masks (make sure she has been to the loo before you go)
5) put choke in and press the accelerator a quarter of the way down – at which point she would suddenly lurch forward (make sure you have hold of her hand once out and about!)
She hated the wet. Once I was pulling on to the dual carriageway to go in the opposite direction from a side road. I crossed the first part fine but then she died on me as I was crossing the fast lane. Thankfully I was opposite a pub and a few lads could see my rather hairy predicament so quickly ran across the road to push me to the side and back on safe ground again. I did a lot of mileage in her when I used to return home from university – from Plymouth to the South East. On my return journey to Plymouth we successfully negotiated the A303 (slow uphills, very fast downhills) but then we just passed the ’10 mile to Plymouth’ sign when she died on me (it had been raining). So I pulled to the side and rang up boyfriend to come rescue me. A very kind policeman pulled up behind me in the interim (which at first made me shit myself) but it turned out he just wanted to make sure I was OK until my boyfriend arrived (sorry have just hit a button that has made the font into italics and cant seem to undo it) I think it also might have had something to do with the serial killer that was on the loose at the time although I tried not to think too hard about that one on a dark wet Devonshire evening.
Because I wanted to be cool, Gertrude had a No Fear sticker in the rear windscreen (although not sure how much fear is experienced by the average person when the top speed is 50mph). However she was not for the faint hearted. Her accelerator used to stick which was tricky in a traffic jam as she was an automatic. You had to jam your foot on the brake like you were holding back a thoroughbred at the start of a race and she completely ignored the handbrake – just powered through it (and into the Volvo in front which was a shade embarrassing).
I once pulled over to post a letter and after I had done the deed I could hear a roaring engine behind me, I turned to see a demented Golf rocking to and fro with smoke pouring out of its exhaust. I ran to poor old Gertrude to see what was wrong and discovered her accelerator was stuck again and she was doing the equivalent revs of 70 mph. Thank fuck the handbrake was virtually touching the ceiling to hold her back.
She was a very cool car though. She was only a really basic model but she had the GTI trim – wheels, steering wheel etc. I remember my boyfriend was very jealous when he met me as he had a shitty 1 litre Fiesta. When we met I invited him to follow me home after I dropped my friends off (I was a bit of a slut back then) and then tested how keen he was by putting my foot down along the motorway.
My Dad ended up with my beloved Gertrude and it was lovely to see my dad driving around in her complete with the No Fear sticker.
I have had soo many cars since then and we change them more often than other things that you change regularly. Our last car we had for about 9 months. But taking a trip down memory lane has made me hanker after buying a classic for Sunday drives (now we are getting a bit older) and I quite fancy a Mini. Although a Mark One Golf Gti would be something else. I forgot to tell you Gertrude was a Mark One….the best Golf ever……before they started getting fat and their drivers started getting old and dull.
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Thanks for reading