Neville John William Day 7 March 1922 - 26 November 1990
Promotion to Chauffeur
This is not one for the woke brigade, or other intellectually challenged individuals.
They would not be capable of transporting the limited scope of their imagination back to times when social values were different. Political Correctness hadn't yet raised its ugly, divisive head. Common sense of the time was still alive and well, and frankly an age when people had far, far more respect for one another.
Dad had need to call upon a neighbouring friend and farmer. A larger than life and jovial character by the name of Kelly Martin. For what reason is not important and I can no longer remember. Most likely to borrow a tool or to return one or to lend one. It doesn't matter now. Friends did that sort of thing in those days.
The meeting naturally involved a little libation. Friends did that sort of thing in those days. Enjoying oneself and socialising was not yet considered immoral, let alone life threatening.
Dad never drank to excess and apart from his wedding day I never saw him inebriated to the point that he was unable to stand. That is to stand without the aid of being strung up by his loyal friends between the pair of poles of our washing line, so as to dry out. Friends did that sort of thing in those days.
Leaving the door of our friend's farm situated down towards Black Drove Fen, Dad threw the keys to our Ford Consul at me, just twelve years old, and said "You drive!"
The longest stretch of the two mile long road home was narrow and being Fenland, dead straight, flat and featureless. Save for one little bridge over a drainage canal. No buildings, no obstacles, no trees, no global warming activists. No Police. Wrong!
pollywiggles in the dyke (drainage canal), there was absolutely nothing of any value to be seen.
Dad wore a flat cap. Of the type worn by yokels, thoroughbred horse dealers and Royalty alike. Harris Tweed. Not inexpensive. Dad was never parted from it. As family we suspected he bathed and slept in it. Some say he was born in it but we say they were joking.
Already quite tall for my age I was not yet though of adult stature.
Dad, although having imbibed 'a few' was not so incapacitated as to not recognize the possible embarrassment of being stopped, and admonished (because there were no drink-driving laws in those days) for being intoxicated whilst in charge of a motor vehicle. The slight matter of not being behind the wheel of said motor vehicle at the time of secondary consideration.
Dad removes his size 7 1/8 cap and slips it atop my 6 7/8 head just before we approach the Bobbies. Whereupon it slides down over my eyes. Under the circumstances I suppose I instinctively thought it best to slip down the seat and so out of sight.
Dad recovered his cap after around fifty yards and so I never did get to see what it had hidden for the past nine years or so I had thus far known him.
Neither of the Bobbies ever followed up. Fascinating that the sight of Dad's familiar Ford Consul being driven past them, quite sedately, but apparently with no one behind the wheel, appeared to raise not a jot of interest.
In a village with perhaps fewer than thirty motor cars at that time, I cannot believe they thought the car was left hand drive. Maybe they had more important things on their minds. Such as newts. None 'pissed as a' variety.
Chris Latham-Smith 2022.
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