It was the spring of 1993. I was a student at college and lived at home with Mum and Dad. I’d just passed my driving test (after two attempts). I’ll always remember the date I passed – 25th April. It was Mum’s birthday. I hadn’t told her I was taking the test as I wanted it to be a special birthday present for her. Besides I wasn’t entirely sure I’d pass after my last efforts (the tester wasn’t too impressed by my hitting the kerb and coming to a standstill on the pavement). But I passed and Mum said it made her day.
Soon after, I bought my very first car. It was a second-hand Renault 5, with a black body and brilliant orange seats and, as I was to find out later, when it rained, its own in-board shower. Mum and Dad were so excited when I said I’d take them for a spin. Dad raced Mum to the car and bagged the front seat. It was when Mum sat in the back and found her feet immersed in a foot of water that we realised there was a problem. Strangely enough, Mum and Dad weren’t so keen to get in the car after that. I didn’t ever find out where the leak was coming from but for the bargain price of £75, I couldn’t complain.
And I loved my car – even if Mum and Dad didn’t. I wouldn’t have trusted her to take me further than about 20 miles but she was a perfect first car.
Reggie, as I affectionately called her, even had a working tape deck. Abba Gold was my favourite album of the time and the song, Chiquitta in particular. I don’t know what it was about that song. It’s the only song I’ve ever sung out loud to (I’m completely tone deaf) and I always sang it with all my heart. When the song was over, I’d rewind the tape to listen to it again and again.
Now, whenever I hear it, it reminds me of those wondrous carefree days when I had no responsibilities or anything in particular to worry about. I still sing along to Chiquitita (though in my head to spare my family’s suffering) and when the song has finished, I think fondly of Reggie, and of poor Mum’s wet feet. Dear Reggie was a steal at £75 – I even made a profit when I sold her, to a policeman, for £100!