My first true love was a little Blue Ford Laser hatchback. Being of 80’s vintage my affectionately dubbed “Princess” only had radio so we did a lot of easy listening. In particular during cross Melbourne treks or adventures up the Hume Hwy.
We listened to A LOT of Cat Stevens. It was him who sang the lyrics,
“Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?
There’ll never be a better chance to change your mind
And if you want this world to see a better day
Will you carry the words of love with you…?”
Whenever I hear these lyrics they take me back to that first love ‘Princess’ who filled a void in my heart I never knew a little beast could… It was a milestone birthday when that old blue Ford Laser entered my life, rolling up the driveway with my parents and sisters, a large pink bow covering both headlights. She was second-hand with her only previous owner being my (late) Nana Pat, who used her as a ‘get about’ in regional North Eastern Victoria. Seeing her again was like a homecoming to a known love.
I was bestowed the gift of her life and we had already shared common memories and adventures of jaunts to bowls, senior citizens and right down that Ford St Beechworth shopping strip. During those outings we always met Nana’s local friends and she would proudly present us as her grandchildren.
To be honest while excited at the prospect of having that Laser in my life again, I was slightly overcome by her presence at first. I had spent twenty years of my life as a passenger (both physically and metaphorically) and I understood little of the responsibility involved in owning a motor vehicle.
Princess wasn’t a “high powered motor vehicle”, but a motor vehicle none the less. She was dainty which was great for zipping around carparks and many remarked that the most high- powered aspect of her existence was the olden style club lock I used to keep her safe at night.
Being the youngest in my family and have always been treated as the baby. I was flying blind those when it came to the basics of the big wide world, driving around and being a responsible adult. None the less, I look back on that day as my own day of reckoning. That day (that Princess arrived) was my own Independence Day.
From that life-changing moment forward- Princess and I were inseparable. Oh, the adventures we had together! We took road trips, went on picnics, met friends and she provided me with a getaway vehicle from less than savory elements (that I won’t go into). Princess saw out boyfriends… several of them. She was my lifeline, my ‘phone a friend’ and my shelter from the storms of life.
I never cared for the Excels, Tirana’s or the V6’s and V8 motor vehicles or Utes my friends drove while they laughed and referred to Princess as “Puffing Billy” and “a piece of shit.” She was my partner in crime, and I knew she could hold her own. I cannot even categorically rule out the fact that Victoria’s ‘hood legislation laws’ were premised on stopping some of the idiocy Princess and I embarked on. (Who else would think to learn the joys of ‘doughnuts’ in the carpark of their own workplace on a weekend?)
As the pages and chapters of life turned, Princess remained stoic, seldom making trips to Dad’s mechanic (which mainly occurred when I forgot to give her oil) which helped coin the phrase in my family, “You can’t kill a (Ford) Laser.”
Princess and I found a safe haven- a happy, vibrant new home in Melbourne’s inner suburbs to reside. She sat happily in that driveway for years, making odd trips down iconic Chapel St for groceries. She saw me through university, even though my degree took years longer than anticipated to accomplish. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end (although I’d never have willingly relinquished the keys to Princess).
Well over 200,000kms after birth, Princess was held together my temporary fixes and band- aid solutions put together by mechanics who kept warning us she was due to expire. She’d had a great life, but her ailments were associated with a ripe old age. One day my Dad put his foot down that Princess was no longer deemed safe. To be fair, her breaks had failed in Melbourne traffic, and this shouldn’t have come as a complete shock. However, the devastation that ensued was immense. I was left distraught.
The day Princess rolled out of my life (on the back of a tow truck no less) I wept- for the adventures, the memories, my youth and mainly for her. She’d been my best friend and the key to my independence for years. She was my first true love. That “puffing Billy- and piece of shit”- I couldn’t have loved a chunk of metal any more than I did (even if she was a bloody Rolls Royce).
I still think of her often (and always fondly). Particularly, when I hear those old Cat Steven’s lyrics. It’s them that best summarize my feelings of loss over Princess-
“If you want it to last forever,
you know it never will…
And the patches
make the goodbye harder still.”
My love for that little car has never been far from my mind. Since the tears rolled down my face when she rolled out of my life I’ve owned station wagons, Utes and a brand-new sparkling and Luxury Nissan Pathfinder in jet black. But when I recently had the opportunity to choose myself a new ‘get-about’ I bet you won’t have trouble guessing what rolled into my life….
She’s not an 80s vintage this time around. But she’s a little Blue Ford Laser Hatchback Princess…
And guess what? She only has a radio. So once again I’m back to easy listening with Cat Stevens and it feels like home.
“Will you carry the words of love with you
Will you ride, oh, ooh
Oh, very young what will you leave us this time?”