My Stories: £9 or £10

Stereotypical men are supposed to love a fancy car, preferably a sports car with a loud engine. In this regard my dad is certainly not stereotypical.

Car’s have never been high on my dad’s priority list, they tended to be bought already aged and run from purchase to grave. A vehicle is purely a utility for carrying people and things. Even during the weekly commute the car’s boot would be adorned with a standard set of allotment gardening equipment including a spade, a fork, a watering can and a selection of dirty carrier bags ready for retrieved produce.

One car was an aged Ford Anglia Estate. I can’t remember how old it was, but they ceased production before I was born. I can’t even remember how old I would be when we had it, but suspect that I was somewhere between 8 and 12. I do remember that it was a deep red, burgundy even. At it’s youngest it would have been 10 years old.

Modern vehicles have all sorts of safety features the Ford Anglia didn’t even have seat-belts in the back. The wearing of seat-belts in the front of vehicles only became a legal requirement in the UK in 1983; it wasn’t until 1989 that it was a mandatory requirement for children in the rear of vehicles, the Ford Anglia went to it’s grave long before that. The three of us would sit in the back, we’d even add in a few friends if the need arose. There wasn’t the same sensitivity about the potential danger of accidents.

One day the time came for the Ford Anglia to go to its grave. I’m not sure what the terminal calamity that precipitated its demise was but I suspect that it was related to the expense of getting it through an annual MOT.

The chosen graveyard for our burgundy family bus was a breakers yard which, I think, was in a small village outside Beverley called Weel which also happened to be the location of the local tip.  My memory is of being sat in the car as my dad conducted the business with the breaker. Another memory is that the car was sat on a newly tarmacked road, it’s interesting what your brain stores away even if it’s not accurate. The windows must have been wound down because we could hear the negotiations as they unfolded.

The breakers initial offer was “£9”, for some reason my dad had a glint in his eye and wasn’t going to settle for that, he countered with “£10”. In modern money terms this is roughly the difference between £45 and £50. Backwards and forwards went the offer and counter offer but neither of them were shifting there was still £1 between them. Eventually my dad suggested that they toss a coin for it a truly British way of resolving a conflict.

The look of delight on my dad’s face when he won was priceless – £10 it was.

I don’t remember how we got home, but suspect that a neighbour picked us up because it’s a 3 mile walk from our house, but it wasn’t unheard of us to walk that kind of distance either. It couldn’t have been my mum who picked us up because she didn’t drive until we were older and they weren’t a two car family until after I left home.

I can’t be absolutely sure of all of the pieces of this story, the only bit that I’m reasonably confident about is that the bartering was between £9 and £10.

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