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 I've lost count of how many vehicles (cars and motorcycles) I've owned over the years, but usually only one or two at a time.

Things came to a head however during our time at the mill house, reaching a peak of 5 at one stage (when only two of us – me and eldest son Mike – were licensed drivers) comprising a Merc limo, a Land Rover Discovery, a top-of-the-range BMW motorcycle, a battered old Renault 5 and a 50cc moped (the latter two for the children's off-road use in our fields). Mike had initially graduated from driving around the fields in the Renault to actually taking his driving test (and passing) in that little old underpowered 'banger' (English slang for – well you know what) and subsequently benefited from a couple more old bangers (courtesy of his little old dad of course) once he obtained his full driving licence.

Who remembers learning to drive?

The reason for the 'old banger' of a Renault and the little 50cc moped was not just for the children's amusement however (though they were as far as they – and all of their many friends, who visited (and stayed over) most weekends). Of course not! Whilst all those youngsters were having lots of off-road fun, they were also (thanks to cunning old me) learning how to handle those engine-powered machines in the safety of a traffic-free environment of course. (Needless to say, all of my brood passed their eventual driving tests with 'flying colours' when it came to the day itself).

Take care when practicing!

But back to that little old Renault: during Mike's pre-driving test practice, I was concerned that the actual test itself did not include motorway driving, or even high-speed dual carriage way driving (nor night time driving actually) – and didn't want to unleash my newly-licensed son onto high speed roads without at least some relevant experience. And so I took him out onto the A40 dual carriageway (south from Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth) and gently coaxed him up to drive at 70mph, encouraging (ordering) him to overtake a large lorry as we went along.

Language is everything!

And then I spotted it – another, stationary lorry in the nearside lane with its hazard lights flashing. As we drew nearer, so Mike dithered – not knowing what to do. "Put your foot down Mike!" I yelled. No response. "Put your foot down Mike!": still no response. "SPEED UP MIKE FOR GOODNESS SAKE, OR WE WILL BE KILLED!!" There was no way the lorry we were (slowly) overtaking was going to crash into the back of the stationary one just to let us sedately pass him by. Mike suddenly realised what I meant (he certainly didn't know what 'put your foot down' meant – on the brake pedal or the accelerator?). And so we escaped certain death by the 'skin of our teeth'.

And I learned an important lesson in how to keep my language up-to-date with the younger generation (though I certainly can't keep up-to-date with theirs nowadays).

Meet The Author...
Jimmy Bates
Who Am I?

A grammar school boy from a working class family, Jimmy Bates has had a chequered career. Before becoming a writer he worked in a variety of jobs, then graduated with an honours degree in electronics, emigrated and became a scientist in Canada and then a director of the same hi-tech company in the U.S.A. He returned to England in 1980 and spent 25 years as a management consultant and held directorships of several high-technology companies before retiring and taking up writing full-time. His interests are history, sociology, science & technology and music. He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, spent all of his school years in Stoke-on-Trent, is married has six children (all grown up now), four grandchildren and has lived in Herefordshire for the past 25 years. His books ( include:

My Blog...

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Kick out the Brits!: A real-life family ‘US road trip of-a-lifetime’

To Death and Beyond: Short stories of real near-death experiences


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A 3-book fictional story of a serial killer

The Last Scrap: Factual account from turbulent teenage years to a caring father-figure to the next generation.

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