Such A Small Love

A Minor Matter. First-hand experience of Issi’s magnum opus. 

(c) The author

For reasons which were for the most part, monetary in nature, I have found myself being the final owner of a number of cars which have entered my care. This is not a particularly comfortable realisation, and might lead the casual observer to a misapprehension that I have not been the most careful of keepers, a matter I would take issue with. In truth a good many of these vehicles were far from their first flush of youth by the time they entered my sphere of influence and try as I might, I fought an often losing battle to arrest the inevitable forces of entropy.

The first of these was the 1966 Morris Mini-Minor you see peering around the corner of the parental home, a car which entered my life in 1982, purchased by my father as something to keep his sons (and his auto-obsessed youngest in particular) out of mischief. I’m not sure if he fully realised at the time exactly what he had let himself in for, or indeed if doing so achieved his aim, but done is done.

I think it’s fair to say that of all the cars I have claimed as my own, the Mini was (this side of the Alfasud which replaced it in my affections) the most decrepit when it first arrived at our door, although unlike the ‘Sud, it did at least arrive under its own power.

I’m not at all certain if cars mean all that much to contemporary 16-year olds; I’m sure there are a few out there at least who still spend the downtime they could more gainfully employ loitering, gaming, or sexting, skinning their hands and freezing their souls upon some decrepit motor vehicle, but if so they are very much in the minority. To be fair, I think even we were considered to be somewhat on the wrong end of the rationality spectrum by our neighbours in suburban Cork, back in the ’80s.

Because from (the admittedly limited) experience of 16-year olds of my acquaintance, if you cannot (virtually-speaking of course) shoot things dead with it, preferably in the equally virtual company of your mates, it simply isn’t worth having.

For my generation however, a car was a precious jewel – something to be nurtured, fettled, obsessively buffed and beautified. It promised freedom, adventure, misadventure even – albeit at 16, promise really was the operative word here. Was the promise of the automobile better than the reality? Probably. Reality would involve finding the money to put petrol in the thing, dealing with its manifold failings, not to mention outright failures. And there were a litany of them. I spent a lot of time in scrapyards.

No, our Mini was not in its first flush of youth, perhaps not even in its fifth, but it’s a car which marked a rite of passage, not only for myself, but for several of my siblings, not to mention the innumerable lives it lived amid our broader family before it came into ours. For such a little car, it lived and still lives large in our memories. Mostly for the right reasons.

Its story, first published on DTW in March 2015, you can if you choose, read here.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

One thought on “Such A Small Love”

  1. Good morning, Eóin. I’ve just read your (and your brother’s) account of your Mini exploits with a big smile on my face. It brought memories of similar experiences with a VW Beetle, my first car, flooding back. The background to both our stories was the hard times in which we grew up. Ireland’s economy in the 1970’s and 80’s seemed to be in a perpetual state of recession. What little we earned was heavily taxed, consumer goods were hugely expensive and money was always in short supply.

    As a consequence, we had to do most things, including running our cars, on a shoestring. My father, an electrical engineer but with a talent for mechanics, was the on-call Mr Fixit to all our neighbours and I learnt at his side. When my peers and I became car owners, my (superficial) mechanical skills saw me spend many Saturday mornings doing plugs, points, timing and oil changes for friends and work colleagues. (At that time, even in Dublin you wouldn’t risk the wrath of your staunch Catholic neighbours by undertaking such tasks on a Sunday.)

    I’m well aware from talking to our nephews and nieces that young adults these days face a whole different set of challenges and concerns in a much more complex world. That said, many still enjoy a level of material comfort that makes the idea of lying on your back on a wet driveway to try and remove a stubborn oil filter an alien notion. Not for them the skinned knuckles and dirty fingernails that were telltale signs of a clumsily performed but cheap DIY car service.

    The Beetle went on to provide reliable transport for my elder sister before succumbing to terminsl rust. It was last sighted sinking into a bog on my mother’s family farm in Co. Galway. This was the traditional way in which cars in rural Ireland were returned to nature’s embrace after their useful life was over.

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