A child has the great gift of turning the ordinary into something romantic and exotic. In fact, for a child there is no ordinary. So much remains mysterious and unknown that everything is full of wonder. I find - as I’m sure you do - these memories always waiting to be touched and revived.
One day recently I saw a magnificent antique truck parked in one of our city streets, gleaming, upright, different. Others were admiring it. The coach work was perfect, the great headlights shone, the wheel spokes thick and solid. When I saw it I was taken across time and miles and reminded of Dooley’s lorry.
Nowadays it would be called a truck but in those long-ago days a small boy called it a lorry. Dooley used to arrive early in the morning in our front farmyard and leave his lorry all day. Years later my father told me that Dooley worked in the town but since he couldn’t afford the price of a license - or chose not to - he left it here with my grandfather’s permission.
Every morning by a kind of magic it would be there. It never came, if you understand, it was just magnificently and mysteriously there. It was of heaven knows what vintage. The tires were solid, the steering wheel was immense, the seat leather was ancient and shiny and wrinkled and smelled of many things, among them tobacco, petrol and oil. As a child I would stand on the running board and climb over the door and sit in the driver’s seat.
In a child’s imagination the engine would cough into life. The panels of the long bonnet would vibrate, and I would travel over hills and fields and whole counties before voices would call me back to the demands and duties of the so-called real world.
In the evening Dooley would duly appear. He would climb up where I had been, open the door, settle himself. The engine would cough and shudder into thundering life. The great wheels would move. Dooley would wave to me and I to him as he drove down the driveway and out the gates.
Wishing to prolong the moment of farewell I would stand and wave and wave until the sound of the engine had died away on the scented evening summer air.