After I left the riding school, I had a bit of a rest. Around this time I sold my motorbike and bought a three-wheeler Reliant Van. It was bright orange (!) I had already passed the motorbike test, and you were allowed to drive one of these on a motorbike licence, which I always thought rather odd as it’s just like driving a proper car. Anyway, after a few hair-raising episodes I soon became accustomed to driving it, I just needed to remember not to take bends too fast or you could tip over (which I never did). It was great fun, and a bit like being part of a club. Whenever you saw another one on the road the driver would raise their hand to you in acknowledgement. At the time there were quite a few of these three-wheeler Reliants on the road, in fact we had a local garage which specifically dealt in them. They came in many different bright colours: orange, yellow, red, light blue - the forecourt was a proper picture to behold! For a while, I dated a guy who had one the same as mine only it was brown. He was a bit of a hippie. He had long hair and a beard, and a soppy black dog. He knew about Bob Dylan. We went on a few dates to pubs by canals. He lived with his elderly mother. Unbeknown to her he was growing weed in a makeshift greenhouse in the back garden. I didn’t know about this until I visited his home and he proudly showed me his cultivated crop, and swore me to secrecy. I wasn’t impressed. I was more than a little apprehensive (i.e: apprehensive). I didn’t know about drugs. I didn’t want to know. I needed my wits about me, not off on some magical mystery tour. I didn’t tell anyone, but that was basically it as far as our relationship went. Coincidentally, I ran into this very same person just the other week. He’s married with a family now, and has had his own personal tragedies, which I won’t go into. The odd thing is he asked me if I’d written my book yet. After all this time that's what he remembers me for! I said, ‘no not yet, I have to earn some bread man.’
But my love affair with my Reliant continued. I went all over the place, just for the sake of it most of the time. One Easter, my sister and I decided to go camping in Dovedale, Derbyshire. I threw the tent into the back of the van and off we went. It was Bank Holiday weekend, the weather was glorious and the tourists were out in force. Anyone who is familiar with the Peak District will appreciate how hilly it is. So, we got stuck in a traffic jam on a really steep incline. My van’s poor little engine started to clank and vigorously smoke in protest at the effort, and, embarrassingly, we had to get help to push it out of the road as we were causing an obstruction on an already congested highway. Thankfully, after a bit of a rest it was fine and we continued on our merry little way. I didn’t keep the Reliant for all that long, having aspirations for bigger and better modes of transport. However, I gained invaluable experience driving it around and when I took my car test I passed first time no problem. The thing with Reliants is that they have fibreglass bodies and don’t rust, and they generally keep their value, so I had no trouble selling it when I advertised it in the local paper…and I got all my money back. Nowadays, three-wheeler Reliants are a rarity on the roads but I occasionally catch sight of one and when I do it always brings a smile to my face.
To cut a long story short: