I was in Porthmadog last Saturday, driving around the side streets that keep turning, squeezed smaller and narrower, growing shabbier with ever more abandonment at each turn until eventually they run out of road and end up salt marsh wilderness.
I was looking for Eric’s – the place where I’d been informed at the café that I could get my tyres done. Unfortunately (in echo to the words of Humphrey Bogart) I was misinformed… informed… formed… ddd - and when I eventually found Eric he couldn’t do my tyres, he didn’t even have them in stock.
Turning down a small track looking for the other tyre place that Eric had suggested might have my tyres in stock (they didn’t though) I came across this poor thing – an old blue Austin A35 saloon just like the one Ju-Ju owned back in the seventies, the one he used to let me drive sometimes - despite me not having passed my test.
Ju-Ju’s Austin was twenty years old when he acquired it from his car dealer dad and this particular model was made between 1956 and 1959, my friend Andy Lloyd the car expert told me this so it must be true - meaning that my abandoned pile of tin must have been over fifty years old – as old as I am, and as rusty and ramshackle as I feel most of the time these days.
Ju-Ju and I had some wild times in that car - at least they seemed wild for two seventeen year old schoolboys. We once drove all around town dragging a rubber rat on a string behind us until the police stopped the car and gave us a good talking to - another time we set out on a weeks camping holiday to Hastings, only to drive home after a measly two days because we ran out of money and couldn’t afford the pitch fees - our money all spent on beer.
That’s me in the bottom picture driving around the old cattle market on the Aylesbury road. The photograph was taken on a beautiful hot and sunny August day as they (Jed and Julian - Ju-Ju) overtook me by the auction shed in Jed’s old green Triumph Herald. Jed was Julian’s brother and drove the Herald while Ju-Ju (in charge of the Kodak Instamatic) hung precariously out of the window to get this shot.
They almost got all of us killed when a cattle lorry reversed from behind the auction shed immediately in front of them as they began to overtake me. They just managed to pull in front of Ju-Ju’s old A35 just in time and narrowly missed the lorry.
Only just in time, so long ago, and all over now. Wild times indeed. Dusty memories and fading photographs of dead young men in old rusty cars.
So, there, for a moment, solitary standing in front of this other A35 left gutted and rusting in the backstreet debris of Porthmadog where the side streets get smaller and narrower, shabbier, and more abandoned as they run towards a wilderness of salt marsh… I remember the sunshine.