Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Learning to Drive the Usual and the Unusual.

In Dalmore,I got the opportunity to drive various motorised vehicles,without any licence and with no interference from the authorities. Anyway, you could not obtain a licence at 13 years of age. In a way,I had gained some experience with the horse and cart taking the peats home from "cul Dhaile Mor". It was only natural to progress to the "horseless carriage",the motor car - Seoras' motor car,the only one in Dalmore,an Austin A35 van,grey in colour with windows all round. I loved that little car with its flying A "mascot" at the front of its bonnet. Firstly I learned to steer the car by leaning across from the front passenger seat,while George operated everything else - gears,clutch,brakes and accelerator. Such dual controlled driving was restricted to the Carloway district,where the local police constable might not notice,or might even turn a blind eye! Later,as my steering competence improved,this dual controlled little van might be found on any single track road on the island. At times,as we motored past another car in a passing place,it could prove disconcerting for the other driver,as George acknowledged him waving both hands in the air. In time I was shown how to operate all of the controls,and by driving to and from the Mullach Beag just outside the village, Seoras was confident I could handle his Austin van. I often took it for a spin out to the Dalmore road end,and back.
George certainly was an innovator, and if proof were needed,his purchase of a two-wheeled tractor settled the matter. This was a miniature machine less than half the size of your regular tractor,whose engine,gearbox etc. was mounted centrally between two dinky wee tractor wheels and shod with wee tractor tyres. Red in colour,it had two long handles like those you'ld see on the lawnmowers they used at the Oval Cricket Ground,brakes as on a bicycle's handlebars,and you steered it carefully like you would any powerful wee two-wheeled bogie. Also on the handles were the clutch lever,and a lever for setting direction and speed - forward slowly,forward very slightly faster, and reverse. As far as I know Seoras only used this strange machine for carrying things. He connected the mini tractor to a trailer he had built himself, with a platform seat up front. It was a powerful wee thing which served us well at the peats and the hay. These were happy times with Seoras, my pal.

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