Hat and the E-type Jag
When I was seventeen I lived at home. We had a bungalow and my bedroom was at the side. I was doing my A-levels, not that you’d know it, and life was quite wild. There was music, gigs, parties and friends. The sixties were in full swing. I had my motorbike and was as free as the wind through my long hair.
Hat was a good friend. His Dad owned a factory and had insisted he left school and worked in it to learn from the bottom up. That was not amusing Hat who found it all excruciatingly boring. They were quite wealthy, wealthy enough for his Mum to have an E-type Jag that she let Hat borrow.
Every now and then I’d be asleep and there’d be a knock on my window. It’d be Hat. He’d borrowed the car and fancied a drive. I’d climb out of my bedroom window and we’d head off into the night.
Sometimes we’d just drive around.
‘It’s always straight on!’
It became a catch-phrase. It would always take us somewhere though it wasn’t as good at getting us back.
Hat’s favourite destination was Brighton. We’d hurtle down the sixty miles to the sea-side, run up and down the pebbled beach like maniacs and then get back in the car and drive off.
It was pointless. That’s what made it so attractive.
For some strange reason the police would take an interest in our exploits. Two young men driving around in a flash E-type Jag in the middle of the night seemed perfectly normal to us but they thought we were up to no good. They seemed to think we’d stolen the car. Unreasonable eh?
Hat did not make it better and there were a couple of times when we ended up being taken in to the police station for questioning.
‘Is this your car, sir?’
‘Do you mind telling me what colour it is?’
Hat, peering out of the open window at the bodywork. ‘It’s hard to tell in these yellow street lights.’
‘Do you know what the registration number is?’
‘Haven’t a clue.’
Hat’s long-suffering Mum would get a call in the middle of the night and have to smooth things out with the disgruntled constabulary. Hat loved winding them up.
On the way home we’d always pop into Heathrow Airport. It was the only place open at that hour back then. We’d run up the long escalator marked ‘Down’ and get ourselves a coffee.
Hat would drop me off. I’d climb back in, get an hour’s kip and be into school the next day. Nobody ever knew.
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