I indulged myself with one of my favourite occupations yesterday.
I sat outside the coffee shop with a mug of coffee and a lit pipe and just let my mind wander.
There was a lot of traffic around the village, with the usual idiots causing traffic jams [they’d shoot past a parking space and then decide to slam on the brakes and reverse, by which time several cars had stopped behind them blocking their way and anyway another car had swiped the space]. It was quite relaxing.
I noticed more than one of those electric yokes, noticeable only by their utter silence. Weird. But it got me thinking about cars and the difference between now and then.
Back in the good old days I bought my first car. It was a red Austin Mini [I mention the colour for my female readers as I know that’s how they identify cars]. It was a brilliant little car and it managed to get me all around Ireland, drunk or sober. It did however lack one or two features which I now almost take for granted.
It had an ignition switch, but it was just that – a switch for the ignition. The starter switch was a button on the floor. Beyond that, controls were somewhat sparse. There was a switch for the headlights but I had to kick a button on the floor to dip them. There was another switch for windscreen wipers which did work occasionally. There was also a heater which didn’t work. There was an indicator arm on the steering column with a little lamp on the end to remind me to switch it off.
That was about it.
There was a rear-view mirror all right but no wing mirrors. I decided to go posh and buy myself a mirror which clipped onto the door frame.
Electric windows? What were they? The windows could be opened only by squeezing a button and sliding the window open. That was tricky because there were ferns and moss growing in the slidey bit as the car tended to be a bit damp on the inside. Window winders were a gimmick for the future.
As the car tended to be a bit damp [see above] the windows always fogged up, winter or summer. Someone was kind enough to buy me a do-it-yourself heating element stick-on transfer for the back window. That was really posh! I also fitted a reversing light myself which was really really posh. I had grown tired of reversing into the gatepost in the dark.
In-car entertainment consisted of a sing-song, conversation or, if I were on my own, muttered expletives. I did fit a stereo cassette player at one point but it was stolen.
My car now is the flight deck of a Boeing 777 by comparison. I have in-car computers that control a load a stuff from speed to estimated kilometers to the next fuel stop. It automatically connects me to my mobile phone for calls, or to play my own selection of music [it also has a CD player which I haven’t used yet]. It also chides me if my belt isn’t fastened [my first car didn’t even have seat belts]. It has a reversing camera so I can drive anywhere backwards, should I so wish. In fact the car has too many features to mention them all.
I miss my Mini.