Writing For The Fun of It


Bill Keeth and his two favourite cars.
Once upon a time in the dim and distant past of the last credit crunch (but two, three or four maybe), when the even dimmer and distant cousins of the present Gang of Go-Getters at Westminster had seen fit to set my chances of obtaining a car loan at nil, I was young and daft enough to pay cash upfront for a central heating system. As a consequence of this, I ended up with just £70 left in my pocket (£800 in today’s terms) with which to buy a motor car to access the wherewithal to finance the entire Keeth kit and caboodle – house, car, She Who Holds the Casting Vote at My Present Address, plus two bread-snatchers of pre-school age. Yet that old jalopy, shabby and down-market though it was, still features in my dreams.

My dream car was a Farina-line 1.6 litre Morris Oxford with a Rose Taupe paint job that never once buffed to a shine in all the time I had it. Meanwhile, a bad earth in the lighting circuit meant a torrential downpour was a prerequisite of bringing main beam into play. Worse still, ’twas generally opined that the Morris Oxford was an old geezer’s car.

Even so, I got a consistent 30 mpg out of the beast, it cornered like a maniac and it boasted leather seats throughout, the front set (the handbrake being positioned to the right) effectively forming a bench seat which would arrest said bread-snatchers in full flight whenever they’d hurtle forward when I braked, intent on engaging dashboard or gear stick with milk teeth or noodle. But best of all the Morris Oxford came equipped with a starting-handle. Because car batteries were expensive at the time – the very last piece of equipment you’d consider splashing out on in the event of electrical breakdown.

In my dreams, I sometimes imagine I’d like to own a Morris Oxford still, drooling whenever a well-preserved specimen of the species is offered for sale in Automart. The only problem with this, though, is that the Morris Oxford of my dreams must be delivered to my front door direct from the factory for just £ 133 in Morris Oxford money (£1600 in today’s terms), just as soon as it has been up-rated beyond spec to incorporate five gears; power-steering; servo-assisted brakes; heated rear window/windscreen; electric windows; interior adjustable door mirrors; remote control central locking; reflective number plates; disposable oil filter; two-way interior mirror; seat belts all round; rear fog lights; air conditioning; reclining seats; radial tyres, not cross-ply; front disc brakes, not pads . . . and a radio cassette player, at least! That is to say, the Morris Oxford of my dreams is just that – the stuff of dreams, nothing more. Unless it be nowadays known as a Ford Focus 1.8 diesel estate car, one of which I purchased 5 years ago for the aforementioned discount price of £1,600.

Really! I love the thing except for the fact that it came to me complete with radio and CD-player.

Now, you may call me an old fuddy-duddy if you will but – for rock, blues, c&w, reggae, pop music, you name it – a radio cassette player will ever remain my instrument of choice.

Must say, I thought my lad would be mightily impressed when I got hold of one and stuck it in. Until, that is, he finally got around to treating me to his personal advice in the matter:

‘Why not take the engine out, too, Dad? Stick a [BLEEP! – Ed.] cart horse under the bonnet?’

Boy’s looking for a Morris Oxford, you ask me – or a Focus estate. Across his right instep maybe!

Still, what do I care as I illegal/speed-bump the blues down to Tescotown (aka Middleton), with Elmore James on slide guitar and myself intent on grabbing a full breakfast at Mehmet’s Middleton Café across from the Britannia?

July 2012

Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester ISBN 1859880649 & Write It Self-Publish It Sell It ISBN 97809558863 are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website, http://www.novelnovella.com.

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