A Good Runner: Part Two

This is the second part of a fiction serial, in 702 words.

By the time Brenda was thirteen, Mike decided he had enough money. He began to visit car showrooms in the area, and would come home clutching brochures and price lists. After dinner, he would constantly flick through his haul, announcing those he had excluded, and the few remaining on his shortlist. “Four doors is a must for me. Too many of those two door models around these days”.

Edna would nod, trying to concentrate on her television programme as he continued. “British built for me, no foreign imports. We have to support our own car industry. I’m coming around to green too. I like a nice dark green, like they have on Jaguars. I know I can’t afford a Jaguar, but I can have a similar colour”.

Edna was shaking her head. “Get whatever you want, I’m trying to watch Coronation Street”.

She knew nothing about cars, and no desire to learn to drive one. To her mind, that was a man’s job, and she didn’t need to know anything about it.

As for Brenda, she was upstairs in her room, listening to her Beatles record on the Dansette. That pop group was all she talked about at the time. Mike had his own opinion about them. “If you ask me, they sound like cats screaming. And they could all do with a bloody good haircut, and two years in the army. Give me Frank Sinatra anytime”.

Brenda didn’t ask him.

Despite his wife’s complete indifference, Mike settled on a Ford Consul Cortina. It had been around since the previous year, and seemed to be reliable, as well as increasingly popular. With Edna not remotely interested, he took the bus to the Ford Dealership one Saturday morning, and discussed buying one with the salesman. They made him a good offer on a white one in the showroom, but Mike held out for green, even though it meant a special order that would delay delivery.

It not only took all of his savings to buy it, but thirty pounds from Edna’s savings too. He paid the deposit, with the balance due in cash when the car arrived from the factory.

Arriving home excited, Edna couldn’t fail to be pleased for him. He had waited all that time, saved hard, and worked extra hours. Although she had no interest in the car, she was delighted for her husband that he would finally be getting it in two or three weeks.

While he was waiting, Mike started to talk about the trips they could make. “Southend will be easy, Clacton even easier. Nice day out at the seaside on Sundays, and no messing about with trains. Then there’s the summer holiday, love. We can go anywhere we like, even Devon or Cornwall”. Edna smiled and nodded. Devon and Cornwall seemed exotic to her. She had never been outside of Essex.

He was relentless in his enthusiasm.

“Getting to work is going to be so easy. And I can take you to the shops too. This car will mean freedom to us, Edna love, it really will”.

By the time the day arrived to collect the car, Mike had already arranged the insurance, and bought a cover to keep it clean when it was parked outside in the street. He had been to an accessory shop to ask about spotlights, and applied for his AA membership in case of breakdowns. Even though Edna couldn’t really care less about the car, her husband’s enthusiasm was infectious.

He even managed to interest Brenda, when he told her he could take her to her friend’s house to listen to records, and pick her up too. She had a question. “Dad, does it come with a radio?” He smiled at her. “No love, but I know someone who can fit one in it for me, just as soon as I have the money”.

When the day came to get the bus to go and collect it, Mike wore his best suit, and put his insurance certificate in his jacket pocket. Edna and Brenda saw him off from the door of the house, as if he as about to embark on a great adventure.

Which of course he was.

45 thoughts on “A Good Runner: Part Two

  1. It’s good to be back home and catch up, Pete. Even though you dislike the Beatles, that’s just what she would have been listening to in ‘63. Of course you knew that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your story also shows, how business has changed. In former days you had to save a long time to buy a car. Today you get everything on loan. You then pay with your loyalty to your daily work, and to stay regularly in the region, and in the country. 😉 A win-win-situation also for the officials. 🙂 xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was quite usual to purchase a car making payments on a loan over a few years. But that was not for Mike. He liked to pay in cash, and know he had no debts.
      (The car would have cost just around £700 in 1963. Saving up to £70 a year from his wages was quite a sum back then.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The radio was almost always an ‘add-on’ at this time, except in luxury models. Many were fitted under the dashboard. In 1968, I had a friend who had a small record player fitted in his car. It played .45 singles one at a time, and he had a box of them on the passenger seat. (His family were quite well off)
      Best wishes, Pete. x


  3. (1) Mike came home clutching automobile brochures and price lists. But then he dropped them on the floor. Overheard:
    Edna: “Why did you drop all the car stuff?”
    Mike: “The clutch went out.”
    (2) Mike can’t afford a Jaguar. How about a Chevy Cheetah, a Mercury Cougar, a Ford Puma, a Buick Wildcat, or a Sunbeam Tiger? There’s more than one way to drive a cat!
    (3) Barely overheard due to loud Beatles music:
    Mike: “If you ask me, they sound like cats screaming.”
    Edna: “You mean like the screaming engines of Jaguars, Cheetahs, Cougars, Pumas, Wildcats, and Tigers?”
    (4) Mike preferred a Consul Cortina. Edna preferred an Edsel. Both were a-Ford-able cars.
    (5) Here in the States, it’s the salesman who holds out for green.
    (6) Bad citation: “We can go anywhere we like, even Denmark or Cameroon.” (Edna had more exotic destinations in mind, like Takama-ga-hara and Svartálfaheimr. Upon hearing this, Mike suggested he could drop her off in Pandæmonium,)
    (7) Overheard:
    Brenda: “Dad, does it come with a radio?”
    Mike: “Yes, but it only plays Frank Sinatra songs.”
    (8) Mike is about to embark on a great adventure. It turns out that the car is related to Wet Nellie, and is capable of being driven underwater. Hello Atlantis?

    Liked by 2 people

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