Sunday, 26 October 2014

DAF 55 - the sound of the variomatic gear box

In 1972 I was 4 years old. During story-time with Miss Janine, my class teacher, I ate my bus money. Not all of it, just the 1/2p. I can't piece together what happened next. I don't remember telling anyone I'd swallowed it. I could feel the painful reminder of my absent-minded stupidity half way down my gullet. I have to surmise what happened next. Perhaps I told the teacher I had lost it and she gave me another ha'penny or perhaps she telephoned my Mum to collect me.

At some point around this time my mum got a car. We were now a two car family. Dad had a Rover 3500 V8 in chocolate brown and Mum had a white DAF 55.

When I came out of school she would say, "Don't distract me!" and grip the steering wheel. I would sit wide-eyed on the back seat, bursting to tell her about all the injustices in my day. The drive down through Grands Vaux, Town Mills and Rouge Bouillon was conducted in total silence whilst she grappled with this not quite tameable beast of a car. Reversing into a space in Midvale Road car park frequently ended with her slamming the car into the granite wall.

Later she would remonstrate with my Dad. "I swear it goes backwards faster than it does forwards." Don't be ridiculous!" said Dad. On this rare occasion, it turns out he was wrong due to the peculiarities of the variomatic gear box. As my Mum once said "I gave up trying to argue about five years into marriage. There was no point. He always won." It was about five years into marriage that she started taking Doctor prescribed pills, including Mummy's little helper - Valium.

Not long after this, the car was sold and I was back on the school bus. 

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