January 2: the Joe and Peg car moment

Uncle Joe and Auntie Peggy had a three-wheeler car when I was little. To me at the time this was the most glamorous of cars, because it was cute and because it was owned by Joe and Peg. Joe and Peg possessed a kind of Punch and Judy glamour. They went away on foreign holidays to Spain and Yugoslavia and visited Capri where Joe had an in-depth conversation with Gracie Fields. I didn’t know who Gracie Fields was but it was one of the names you heard grown-ups bandying about. They did home movies. They took us to Hyde Wakes once a year, picking us up from my mums and dads thrillingly without warning. They gave us money for ice cream, Joe using the verb ‘wack’ (the only time I have ever heard this before or since) as in ‘Wack this out between you’ as he cascaded a stream of coppers and silver into our expectant palms. There is a photo of them somewhere in their heyday. They are walking smiling hand in hand down some promenade somewhere and you can see the white three-wheeler in the background, like Noddy’s car. I remember my mum saying how silly they were to be holding hands like that at their age. Sometimes they let me sit in the drivers seat and pretend I was driving. In a sense I was destined to love cars. But then it didn’t happened. We didn’t get a family car until I was about fourteen and by then the deep palimpsest of bus routes was sunk within me. I never saw the car need. What happened was that I outgrew the Joe and Peg car moment, and the dad car moment came too late.

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