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Around The Sun: A Ford Anglia

Steve Harrison buys his first car - and his life becomes even more hectic.

I’ve had new cars, old cars, vintage cars and sports cars - but none of them were as memorable as the first car I ever owned.

I was working as a barman at Batley Variety Club. Another guy who worked at the club owned a Ford Anglia. Sometimes, if I arrived early for work, he allowed me to drive it around the car park. I was sold on the car. I too wanted to own a Ford Anglia.

I was saving money like mad. I insisted on always buying my dad drinks. Perhaps he thought I was getting the money by dealing drugs. By then I was certainly earning a lot more than he was.

Soon I saw a Ford Anglia for sale for £50. I paid cash for it and drove off. I didn't have a driving licence, or insurance, but neither of those seemed to be important to me at the time.

On that first night, when I got the car home, I kept going outside to look at it. It was parked outside our house. Eventually I took a pillow and a blanket and slept in the car. Of course it was uncomfortable, but it was heaven to me.

Within weeks I had to replace the engine with a reconditioned engine. Dad and I were now experienced at doing that sort of thing. Dad then gave me his very special driving lessons, teaching me how to roll a cigarette while steering the car with my knees. I passed my driving test, paid for insurance, and now I was a genuine king of the road.

Now I was really going places. I had my own parking spot in the advertising agency car park and also one at the Variety Club. I kept a change of clothes in the car - denims and T Shirt for the agency, black trousers, white shirt and bow tie for the night club.

Sometimes, after drinking all night, my father would be setting out for work as I arrived home. Those were crazy years.

Dad would ask “Have you been drinking again?”

“No” I replied. "What makes you ask that?''

"Just look at your car.''

When I looked I would see that my car was half on the road, half on the pavement. with the lights and radio still on and a door open.

“Sure you’ve not been drinking?” said dad.

That became a familiar line. My attempts to park were becoming notorious. Dad, bless his heart, never scolded me. I guess he saw it as part of the business of growing up. From the occasional glint in his eyes I guessed he was familiar with that sort of behaviour.


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