The Shabby Chaffeur

I think I was the first person in my family who had to sit a practical driving test to get a license, before that as soon as you turned 16 you could answer a few written questions and if you passed you got your license even if you’d never been in a driver’s seat. I can’t remember if I was 16 or 17 when I got my Learner’s Permit but I’m fairly sure I did the test at a centre above the Railway Station, maybe now the area’s been gobbled up by the Casino. Ricky came home from his work in the South East once and said he’d teach me to drive. We borrowed the old Hillman Minx which Aunty Mavis had given to Mike and went to an area near Lockleys where land was being sub-divided. There were some roads but no traffic. Ricky showed me how to select the gears then said to put the car in reverse and back into a parallel park. I made a mess of it and that was the start and finish of my first driving lesson. When I was 17 I had some lessons with the RAA and then did the test at Port Adelaide. Before the test I’d needed a couple of goes to parallel park and also gone the wrong way down a one way street so I was already “emotional” and hadn’t even started the real test. A policeman assessed me and I goofed the hill start when I stalled the car so despondently restarted the procedure, assuming I’d failed. I passed! After I got my license I sometimes drove Dad’s car, a Valiant Spacemaster but I didn’t like driving it. I always felt it drove me, I wasn’t really in control and when I think about it now I’m not surprised. It had big bench seats and I’m sure I never managed to move it forward so I would have been stretched right out to reach the pedals. Sometimes Dad would be away with work for weeks and he would leave the car home which was fine if I wanted to drive it but there was a downside. Dad would occasionally be late getting ready so he’d miss the bus then come into the bedroom and ask me to drive him to work. I’d get out of bed in my PJs and drive him, terrified that the car would break down and I’d be marooned in my pyjamas. Luckily it never happened. You didn’t know that about Nana did you?

Hillman

A Hillman similar to the one that was- family car, florist delivery van, Mike’s transport to Findon High School then with roof open Geoffrey’s Spotlighting Car extraordinaire on Uncle Geoff’s farm

The 1954 Vanguard, Spacemaster, Reg No. 409 076

Does this ring any bells with you?

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