Roy explains why he’s not a fan of cars – and why he never passed his driving test!
Some friends of mine, and some who aren’t, constantly accuse me of living in the past. Rubbish! says I.
OK, so nearly all the songs I know were first sung by Albert and Victoria and my favourite dance is the minuet. I enjoy a haunch of venison for my Sunday dinner (I leave the antlers for the dogs), I handwrite letters with a quill pen and find Barbara Cartland’s books far too raunchy for my delicate taste but… I am in the process of investing in a bicycle in keeping with today’s obsession with exercise (a penny farthing of course). I spend my time thinking about holidays, longing to return to Tresco – a Scilly island where getting around is blessedly car free. Me and cars have never got on. I have owned a few but have never sat behind the steering wheel of any of them. In my youth, my constant quest to impress the ladies stirred me to think about driving. I’d always taken my female friends home on the bus (well I did so enjoy the clip-clop of the horses) but most of the girls were just dying to be whisked away in a masculine model T.
I did have one lesson; after asking the teacher, ”Where is the person who’s supposed to walk in front with the red flag?” (I only said that to get a laugh. It didn’t!) the grim-faced instructor pressed some sort of button and it started. We moved and soon we were merrily bowling along a country lane. Oh the thrill of it. “This is more like it,” I shouted, as a herd of very old cows and a threelegged dachshund overtook us. Opening his eyes the instructor suggested, “You can go a bit faster you know.” “No thank you,” I said through gritted teeth with the wind ruffling my hair. “You’re going less than 12 miles an hour,” was his comment. “Quite fast enough,” I snapped and silence prevailed for another 12 miles. The instructor sank lower in his seat so no one could see he was with me. His impatient, constantly repeated, “Gawd ‘elp us!” forced me to declare, “I tell you what. Why don’t we change places and you drive me home?”
He was in the driving seat faster than a Kwik Fit fitter and I tried to look like his teacher. He was a good driver and we were outside my digs in 30 seconds flat. I got out my wallet to pay him but, as he ran down the road, on the wind came a stifled cry, “On the house!” My first and last driving lesson was over. Sometimes, when I tell that embarrassing truth, a doubter will say, “Not true. I’ve seen you behind the wheel of a car on the telly.” Then I reveal they usually put me in a car on a trolley to create the illusion that I am a right Lewis Hamilton. “In the Dennis Potter film Karaoke, I had to be seen driving Albert Finney around. I steered while Albert, sitting next to me, changed gear, stopped and started and did all the proper car things. What a trooper. So you see I don’t live in the past – I live for every day ‘cos my missus Debbie loves driving and, while she does, I sit knitting and backseat driving. Home please, Debbie!
‘Me and cars have never got on. I’ve owned a few but never sat behind the steering wheel of any of them’