Steve Royle remembering dad’s rules and regulations in our Austin Maxi

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 3:41 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th September 2020, 3:41 pm

I wish there was a font that could express just how hot and sweaty I feel right now!

Phew! feeling overheated

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I’ve driven more than 1,000 miles this week in a car that has no air conditioning, writes Britain's Got Talent star, Steve Royle.

I know what you are thinking ... “How old is his car?” If truth be known it would perhaps be more accurate to say the air conditioning in the car is not working properly.

I am not going to say what make of car it is. Suffice to say that the animal it is named after is certainly more used to the sweltering heat than I am!

Cars from the ark

It is hard to believe that back in the day when I was young hardly any cars were equipped with air conditioning, it was in those days a luxury item, a bit like cup holders and a stereo.

In those days you simply had to make do with winding down a window in the car.

Please tone it down

My wife often complains to me that I talk too loud and she puts it down to old age hearing problems, but I reckon it is from all those years of conditioning, trying to communicate with my two siblings with four windows wound half way down.

Rules, rules, rules!

I say “half down” because that was my dad’s golden rule of travel back then, that the windows be fully wound down on B roads but only half way down on motorways and busy A roads.

Another rule that he seemed to adopt back then was the two cassettes per car rule. One of those cassettes was full of The Two Ronnies’ songs and the other was Hooked on Classics.

This latter crime against music was basically 45 minutes each side of classical tunes set to drum ’n’ bass tracks. Unbelievable but, nonetheless, true. To this day I can still sing along to any Two Ronnies’ track and feel an urge to beatbox whenever I listen to Radio 4!

Nostalgic car journeys

When I think back to my childhood car journeys it’s amazing how much has changed over the years.Compulsory seat belt wearing is an obvious difference. Most people still wore them back then anyway.

Perhaps more shocking to young people today would be the number of passengers you could take. I remember my brother and sister, Mum and Dad and I all taking my grandma on a camping holiday to France one year.

It would be the late 1970s and all six of us crammed into my dad’s Austin Maxi. We would take it in turns to lie in the footwell for a sleep. I’m amazed I didn’t end up with curvature of the spine!

Don’t forget, as I mentioned earlier, there was no air conditioning either. It’s laughable that we accepted with little complaint six sweaty bodies crammed into a car for several hours but complained about how every town smelt of garlic!

In hindsight I imagine the French started to cook and eat more garlic to counter the stench of British tourists!

On shorter journeys one of us (usually me) would be forced to sit in the boot if we had a car full. I recall one such journey to The Lakes when we had an American exchange student staying with us. To allow for the rather large teen I was forced into the boot alongside the picnic and a huge pump flask.

A painful journey

My dad turned a sharp Cumbrian corner and the flask tipped over and spilt on my leg. The sandwiches were saved but a huge blister appeared on my foot within seconds and I began to cry out loud. Instead of sympathy I just got told to “Shut up whinging!” I’ve had a mistrust of both tea urns and Americans ever since!

Must dash now, I’ve got an appointment with Air Con Van Man!