Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Infernal Combustion Engine - Can you live without your car?

Lying in bed this morning, late (7.50am) half dozing I was aware of an unusual amount of noise outside.

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.


  1. I can live without my own car -- but certainly need access to some kind of motor vehicle. When I am in the States it is more of a necessity for me.

    1. Obviously Broad everyone's needs are different, and I am lucky enough to live in a town with good transport systems. It's easy for me to do without a vehicle.

  2. I have a car and usually use it for convenience. I do walk a lot though and prefer to walk up to the village unless it is pouring with rain.

    I am sure I could manage without one - free bus pass and a taxi for those places (quite a few) that the bus doesn't reach.

  3. Well Susan, necessity forced me to do without after John's death and as I have a bus pass and lots of buses to choose from am in a privileged position in some ways.
    That's not to say that I don't appreciate an occasional lift.

  4. Like you I grew up without a car, Ray and we went everywhere by bus or train without any difficulty, even day trips to the seaside. Now of course a car is essential, as there is no public transport within a 5 mile radius of our house. But Tesco will deliver! :-)

  5. Living as you do in the Himalayas I imagine you would be marooned without your own transport. As I have previously said, I'm very lucky to have so much choice.
    Tesco along with all the other Supermarkets here will deliver, but I like to pick and choose by sight and touch so not for me.

  6. Owning a car has its pros and cons, especially in dealing with insurance and repairs. It’s nice to know that you’ve been enjoying the benefits of the public transportations. I hope you won’t get offended, but technically, vehicles are a great part of your daily living. I think the right way to say your conclusion is that you can live without owning a private car. :)

    Raquel Fowler

  7. Hi Raquel
    No, I'm not in the least offended, but I was talking specifically about cars. After all I'm not likely to be driving either a bus or a taxi.
    I certainly could not manage without the bus service.