Thursday, 13 March 2014
The Infernal Combustion Engine - Can you live without your car?
My neighbour was having difficulties starting her car. It was cold, though not frosty, very foggy and she was not happy.
The pong of exhaust fumes was filtering into the room by the time she got it going and took off in a hurry.
Thinking about the nuisance value of cars, expense, damage to the environment I wondered just how hard most people would find it to manage without them.
The 2nd world war was the background to my early days and at that time only two people in the road in which I lived had cars. One was under wraps for the whole of the war, the other, owned by a Mr Clark was licensed for 'war work', so was often to be seen out and about.
None of my friends families had cars and it was just not of any interest to any of us as children.
By the time I was in my late teens (early 1950's), there were about a dozen or so within my daily orbit and still they made no impression at all. In fact it wasn't until my best friend Barbara's dad got a car and I had an occasional ride in it that it even registered on my radar as a means of transport.
Aged 20 I left home and joined the WRAC, signing on for three years, during which time my father became a full-time union officer was 'given' a car and moved to the more affluent South. (Kent in fact).
Home on leave I enjoyed several trips to the coast and other far-flung places and began to see why some people were so enthusiastic about the things.
During the years after my 'demob' I worked near home (my parents home) and still worked locally when I moved into a bed-sit in 1960.
I had no car, needed no car, and never even considered the idea of one, even if I could have afforded the deposit.
When I worked in London and started singing in London, my train and underground combined ticket took me everywhere I needed to go, so, still no car.
It wasn't until I married aged 35 that I/we included a car as a part of the trappings of daily life. John had been driving since his very early 20's so was superglued to his car.
As the years went on I became used to going everywhere on wheels and at the same time heavier, lazier and less and less inclined to walk.
John even took the car to post a letter!
After his death 38 years later, I was stunned to find I actually had feet and what was more was dependant on them.
Nowadays I walk, bus and take taxis wherever I go without more than an occasional wistful grimace when there is snow or rain or an East wind about.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I did make a brief attempt (10 lessons) to learn to drive, but gave up for a variety of reasons: too old (75), too stiff, too nervous and not least, too poor.
When I weighed up the cost of buying a car, tax, license, insurance, petrol, maintenance against, the cost of an occasional taxi, a free bus pass and no hassle about repairs etc it was a 'no brainer', or in my case a no car er.
Half my life has been lived without the benefit of a car and half with. I can honestly say yes. I most certainly can live without a car.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 12:37:00 p.m.