Monday, August 27, 2007

Wheels

My dad never owned a car. Nor did he, to my knowledge, ever drive one. It wasn’t a big deal: not many people did back then and we had lots of buses running at the end of the street. There was the 649, the 659 and the 679, which went to places like Manor House and even Liverpool Street: there was the 310 to Enfield Town, the 275 to Cockfosters and the wonderful Greenline which went to central London, setting down passengers at a few well chosen stops. But there wasn’t a direct route to Enfield Rolling Mills, where daddy worked as an electrician.
That’s him at work, second from the right. I already explained how the importance of electricity to the Rolling Mills got us our phone. Too bad it didn’t get us a car, because every morning daddy would fasten his bicycle clips round his baggy grey pants, get on his bike and ride the three or so miles to the Rolling Mills. At noon he would bike home for dinner and bike back to work, returning home sometime between five and six p.m. Day in and day out, in rain, snow and what passes for blazing sunshine in England. I don’t recall him having much in the way of protective clothing either. His pants were frequently soaked. He repeated this routine until he was sixty or so.

That is what you do when you have children and a house. But when he was a young man, in the brief years before the war made everyone sober, he had a much more dashing mode of transportation. My mother wrote on the back of these photos, but she did not date them. I suspect they were taken between their marriage in October, 1937 and my birth in December, 1939.My mother identified the site of her photo as the “ferry from Fowey to Bodinnick, Cornwall.” The sidecar, in which my mother rode in solitary splendor, looks enormous.

But it wouldn’t have worked with a pram. As for my dad, after the freedom of the motor-bike, there must have been days when the daily ride seemed like miles of quiet desperation.

1 comment:

Kate said...

As my husband often says..."kids ruin everything."