This Really Happened To Me

Julie Valentine

What song is stuck in your head (or on permanent rotation in your CD player).

I fancied owning a pink Rover Tourer a few years ago, in preference to the maroon Ford Estates that I had driven all my driving/working life.

This car appealed not only to my eye, as it was sleek, shiny and comfortable to drive, but it also had a radio/tape player, something my workhorse Fords never had.

I couldn’t wait to try out this new fangled gadget on the school run the morning after I took possession of the car and grabbed the first tape I could lay hands on as I left the house in my normal hectic rush to get two kids, their lunch, homework and school hat into the back seat of the car before attempting the life threatening right transit across the traffic to join the flow travelling towards school.

Whilst sitting in the traffic jam not 20 feet from my front door, I removed the tape from its clear plastic casing and slid it into the tape slot above the radio.

Then the trauma started. The traffic started to move off, presumably the traffic light, 200 yards around the corner, had changed and the moment for forward transition was picking up. The only problem was that I was in a new car to me and finding first gear was not easy when one’s mind was wondering why the tape wasn’t making any sound.

What a quandary, I got caught at the lights because I had been too slow away to catch up with the car in front. This, at least, offered me the opportunity of gazing open-mouthed at the numerous knobs on the radio/tape.

Ah, yes, that’s the one. Too late, the lights were changing and this time I daren’t be slow away. Blast! stalled the engine! I only have myself to blame for that, should be paying attention to driving the new, to me, car instead of trying to play some music.

Right, now have a reasonable space in front of me and can move on to my turn off to take the back cut through behind the park that many people don’t like using because of the road humps. At least we are on our way again, but still no music.

Turning again to join the busy traffic, I get another opportunity to look at the knobs.

Eureka! Hit a knob that turned on a light, we have music.

Ermmmmm. I just had to ask the kids. Ok, which one of you put this tape in the wrong cover? No confession, I guessed that was because it wasn’t Sunday. The music that was filling the car was a song I had not heard for years and didn’t know we had a tape with it on in the house.

Oh well, I decided I might as well sing along, didn’t expect to get a chance to fast forward the tape to find out what else might be on it.

We had finally arrived at the kid’s school. I needed to turn off the engine to disembark the kids and make sure each had everything they came out of the house with. Yep, they looked just like all the other little angels walking up to the school gates in the navy skirts, blazer with badge, and the notorious corduroy Tammy with a longish tassel attached to the top.

Off they went, with a hug, a quick kiss and not another glance to take a last look at their adoring mum before entering the school gates.

I got back into the car and took a more detailed look at the radio/tape knobs and controls. They seem simple enough at the time, but actually it took me a while to get used to how this gadget actually worked.

So, there I was sitting in the car with my hand on the ignition. I checked I was in neutral, turned the key and started to reverse the car so I could achieve a reasonable u-turn, in my new car without doing damage to the car or any of the kids walking past.

This achieved, I eased back out into the traffic to work my way home.

I couldn’t believe it, there was that song again but this time I had to let it play as the wheels were turning quite fast on the dual carriageway.

On approaching the crossroads I remembered that I needed to fill up. So, once again I turned off the car, filled up, paid and started the car to go home.

I couldn’t work out what was going on, there was that song again. The tape seemed to be reversing itself over the same section of tape each time the engine was fired down.

My cup of coffee that morning was made extra strong and taken black. The car handbook and separate booklet for the radio/tape was closely scrutinized until I solved the problem. Having found that this was ‘special’ to this set-up the only resolution was to remove the tape and find one that I didn’t mind listening to over and over.

‘I Want to Ride my Bicycle’ will never be the same to me ever again. The tape went back into its box and was donated to the church bazaar the following week. – Queen

(891 Words)


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