Home is the sailor, home from the sea, And the hunter home from the hill

When we were first married, my wife and I bought a house in the Meadows area of Nottingham. This was traditionally a place of slums, crime and general unpleasantness, but at the time, the early 1980s, huge numbers of unhealthy hovels were being demolished to be replaced by newly built, better quality, council houses, as they were then called. Mixed in with all the rented accommodation though, was a small estate of private houses, and we bought one of those. When we first moved in, we were surrounded by a vast building site:

photo 1

In the background is Nottingham Castle, which has very little remaining from the medieval period and dates mostly from the 1670s. It is perhaps most famous for being the trademark on Players Cigarettes:

trade markxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

And now, it must be nine minutes past four and the teaching day is ended and I have driven home at top speed:

“Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.”

photo 3

I used to have an old 1964 Hillman Minx De Luxe, with the registration plate BLT 141B. It was my first car, and I loved it dearly. I wish I could have it back again. It had previously belonged to my Dad, Fred, who loved it even more than I did. When the seventeen-year-old car failed its last roadworthiness test, he was so glad that I took the trouble to drive it, fairly illegally, the 35 miles to his house, just so that he could then drive it himself on its last ever journey down to the scrapyard.
This beautiful blue car was “the one” as far as Fred’s motoring career was concerned. One day in 1966, he took me with him to nearby Derby and we visited Peveril Garage, on Friar Gate, up near the headquarters of the Derby County Supporters’ Club:

Fred told me not to mention anything whatsoever about the day to my mother, not under any circumstances. Without any consultation with her at all, therefore, he bought this marvellous car, which was priced at £510. In those days, that was a princely sum indeed. If truth be told, it was actually a total sufficiently royal, that when my mother did eventually find out what he had done, she would have had Fred beheaded if she could have organised it.

The car was a rich blue, half way between sky blue and navy blue, with a black side stripe picked out in metallic chrome. In later years, when he had problems with rust on one of the wings, Fred was to opt for a total re-spray, which allowed him to retain the same colour blue for the body, but to incorporate a black roof which added that extra, unique, little detail to his beloved car:

photo 4

At this time, I had only recently passed my driving test, so, while I waited for the green “Provisional” plates to be invented, I retained my Learner plates, with the Big Red Ell on them. That was enough to be pulled over by a young policeman, apparently tired of arresting burglars, drug dealers, terrorists, murderers and bank robbers. Still, no hard feelings.
And here I am, looking like the man who designs the stage costumes for a 1970s pop group:

photo 2

I am wearing my favourite wide lapel purple jacket which had a wonderful Polyester feel to it. My shirt was short sleeved and chequered in pink and white. My extra wide tie was scarlet, and again, made of Polyester for easy cleaning. My glasses were gold-rimmed and my hair was a deep delicious dark brown without the slightest trace of grey:

photo 5

I had probably been wearing a pair of trousers throughout my day as a teacher, but they are not visible in this photograph. They may well have been my favourite pair ever, which were generously flared and mid-grey with an emphatic large black check design all over them. This created a whole series of huge squares perhaps four or five inches in size. I eventually gave these show stealers to a charity for the homeless in Africa. I often wonder who got them and what he made of them. Conceivably, some kind of shelter.


Filed under Criminology, History, Humour, My House, Nottingham, Personal

17 responses to “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, And the hunter home from the hill

  1. Now that photo of a younger you has quite a John Lennon look about it. But I am wondering, because that is what I am oft inclined to do, just what was it that prompted you to wander down this lane of reminiscence, for I too, have fond memories of my early cars.

    • I always thought I was like John Lennon, although lots of people thought John Virgo the snooker player was a better bet. I found these old photos a few weeks back as I was rearranging old boxes in the cellar , for the umpteenth time, I suppose as we get older, we think that these bygone days are interesting. And for the most part, they are!

  2. Priceless personal history, John. My first car, bought new in 1966 was a Hillman Imp

  3. The story behind the picture beautifully told. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  4. atcDave

    You know most of us hide our photos from that era…

  5. This was a great post! I really enjoyed the photos.

  6. I can remember a car of my father’s, an Austin (or maybe) Ford Pennant, it sat outside the back of the house prior to heading to the great car park in the sky. It had a huge steering wheel and indicators that jumped out of the side. My brother and I played in it for hours – truly great days!

    • Yes they were truly great days. You never forget the first car you came into contact with, usually the one owned by your Dad, I would imagine. And then the first one you yourself owned. No matter how much the technology in them changes, cars never really seem to get very much more attractive as the years go by somehow.

  7. What a fun history…and memories, sir. Your fave car reminds me of the flying car in Harry Potter, which resides at the Paramount Studios museum.

    When I was 17, I worked as an apprentice in a (rip-off) car repair garage. One of the young guys there was a real gear head. He had a Hillman chassis, stripped down. He had bought a “Rat Motor”, a dream engine back then. He worked on it for a year, including afixing a T-bucket body on it. On his very first day of running it, we pushed it out onto the street whereupon he started it. He floored it and within 30 yards, had it on its side, resting on an embankment. It was too much power for little weight.

    • Absolutely right, I occasionally see an old Hillman and it is only know that I realise how tiny and fragile it was. In our school archives, we have a picture of cars parked in our school yard in 1963. There are two more rows than we can get in nowadays!

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