a drive in the country

by uzwi

It’s somewhere between the late 50s & the mid 70s. A young man from the lower middle classes, English, early adopter of university education, somehow finds the money to buy a sports car. It may be something interesting or worthwhile, a Jaguar or Lotus, or it may simply be a high end MG, one of those new products just expensive enough to make you a player. Anyway, it’s enough to get him a date with a young woman a little further up the provincial class system. It’s enough to convince her. On their date, he drives her out for an evening, or he takes her for a drive after a dance, or he drives her out into the country, or to the sea for an afternoon–let’s say for convenience it’s the sea–and the car runs out of petrol, or breaks down, on an abandoned-looking stretch of B-road facing out across the estuary at some, I don’t know, gasometers or oil tanks or whatever, on the other shore. There’s no phone box near. There are, of course, no mobile phones or anything like that. In the silence that ensues, you can actually hear the wind whistling over the wing mirrors of the car. There’s a kind of half-industrial, half-salt smell in the air. The young man shrugs, does up his shortie car coat and goes for help. Twenty minutes later he’s back, with petrol, or a mechanic, or a tow truck, and the couple are able to drive back to town. He’s quite pleased with how quickly it’s all been managed, but she doesn’t speak much on the drive back; and after that, she never speaks to him again. The reason, he’s astonished to hear through a third party, is that he was ungentlemanly enough to leave her unattended in a car for twenty minutes in a lonely place.

Not sure if I’ve made this up, or heard it as a pub anecdote so long ago I’ve forgotten the circumstances; or if I’m half-remembering a pivotal event from some UK Angry Young novel or film or TV production from the period? If it’s the latter and you recognise the source, please leave a comment below and put me out of my misery.