Yesterday I showed some photographs my grandfather took.  In one, his caption was of the car’s licence plate rather than his human subjects (namely his wife and daughter) and Robin asked if there were any explanation for his behavior.  The short answer is no, but going through the photo album I see he’s done it several times, starting with this one of my grandmother in JO 24.  It’s been beautifully polished by him (the tin of polish is on the running board) and it has an open sun roof.  The picture was taken at Thame, near Oxford, in the late nineteen-twenties.


Though he died when I was only three, even I know some of his licence plate numbers.  Once in  the ’70s, while I was waiting for a bus on Highgate Hill in London, JO 24 zoomed past.  By then it had got itself hitched to a brand-new maroon Rolls Royce.

Later they moved to a very grand house at Diss, in Norfolk.  Here, at Norwich market, is his car sometime in the mid-thirties, standing next to his brother-in-law’s model (that’s my mother, by the way, almost blocking Tom’s car).


My grandfather had retired at forty-five.  When my mother was about ten he took my grandmother and the two children on a year-long world tour. They returned to England because of the Munich crisis, otherwise I wonder whether the children would have ever gone to school again.  He made this observation during their sojourn in Australia: car-in-queensland

‘No number plates on front in Queensland’.  Nothing about Bonnie and Clyde (that’s who it looks like they were passing), just the essentials of local auto regulation.  

They spent some time in the town of Warwick in Queensland — I would call this house a bungalow, except I don’t think is quite — where he photographed his two children in the back of  the Chevrolet he’d bought for the journey, good old 257 760.img_9367


There are more.  People clearly had a different feeling about cars back then.  My grandfather was an electrical engineer and I think he loved technology in a way most of us don’t any more.  My daughter asked me what our licence number is the other day and I didn’t know, though I think it’s got a D in it.