Miss Daisy's Diaries
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Why I wrote this book
I’ve always had a love of vintage motoring, sparked off at the age of 11 after being taken for a drive in a vintage supercharged Bentley. I also believe that older cars have personalities and it was when I came back from the shops shortly after Miss Daisy had arrived that the inspiration to write something about her happened. There she was sitting in the garage and looking down at me in an obvious disapproving manner. “What have I done now?” I asked her and as soon as I had spoken, my daughter came out to see who I was talking to…Shortly afterwards I started to write the diaries, not from my own perspective, but that of Miss Daisy’s. It seemed a much better approach. The diaries were contributed on a monthly basis to the South Wales Austin Seven Club’s magazine. Her character quickly emerged from these diaries. She seemed partly Margaret Rutherford (apparently dotty, but really smart), Margaret Thatcher (opinionated) and an added touch of Peggy Mount (regularly exasperated). The monthly diaries went on to appear in other vintage car club newsletters and readers of those started urging me to turn them in to a book.Miss Daisy’s Diaries consists of seven chapters, each representing a year in her life with Her Ladyship at the same time allowing her to reflect back on the seven decades of her life. The present day events are based on real events that happened while out driving her, although I allowed myself a little imagination to enhance the narrative. Her memoirs are based on her original logbooks, which while I change the name of her past owners, I keep the location the same as she moves around the Midlands, before moving to Bristol and eventually to Her Ladyship’s house in Cardiff. I tell the story of significant events in the social history of motoring through the experiences of her previous owners. So the book could almost be described as ‘Faction’.
Miss Daisy arrives at her new home. It’s her 70th birthday and she’s worn out, completely whacked in fact. Now that she’s getting on a bit, she hopes that now she can settle down and write her memoirs.
Her Ladyship greets Miss Daisy with a degree of excitement. She’s planning on retiring in a couple of years and having some fun with this old girl. “Hey, let’s drive round the world,” she announces one morning. ‘Not with me, you’re not,’ thinks Miss Daisy and thus starts the ongoing love – hate relationship between these two very different characters.
Her ladyship keeps coming up with a mad scheme to drive somewhere or another. “It’s only five hundred miles”… “It’s only a thousand miles”… She announces. There are many other shorter trips too and if something can go wrong, it usually does. A wheel falls off, Her Ladyship’s haemorrhoids are exacerbated by ‘those damned speed bumps’ and then there was the Sat-Nav… Oh yes, the Sat-Nav…Each year the ‘Let’s get in training for Round The World’ trips get longer and longer while Madam dreams up more and more bizarre ideas, until a two thousand mile trip to Spain exhausts them both.
But when the garage door closes, Miss Daisy recalls her younger years and all the people who have touched her life. ‘Oh David’ and ‘Don’t Worry Beatrice’ the young couple from Oxford who bought her just before the driving test became law. After the war it was Mister Chalk and his redoubtable wife who celebrated the coronation with her in style. Then there were a succession of students, culminating with Hey Man Dave who used her as transport for his skiffle gigs. He nearly got her condemned to the scrap yard, only to be rescued at the last minute by Colonel Humphrey and his ever patient wife Joycie Darling trying to recapture their youth. After the colonel died, she seemed condemned to become a chicken house until rescued by a vintage car dealer. Saved and restored, a new life finally brought her to the home of Her Ladyship and finally that arduous trip to Spain. Now perhaps Her Ladyship would settle down. But it seems that is not to be.
The Austin Magazine
Miss Daisy’s Diaries is a splendid autobiographical account of the adventures and life of a 1934 Austin Seven car. . Rather like a visit to an ancient aunt who regales you with the tales of her escapades, Miss Daisy reports on life with “Her Ladyship”, these tales being interspersed with vivid flashbacks to previous owners and their exploits. We also see the changing face of motoring, the growth of vehicles on the road, the development of traffic lights, roundabouts and the MOT Test.
Chris Serle, Broadcaster & Director of the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum
I wish all old cars would write their memoirs. The 1934 Austin Tourer, Miss Daisy, has made a joyful job of it in her own somewhat curmudgeonly manner. Or is that something she’s caught from her owner? Either way what we have from the “old girl”, as the owner calls her, is a neatly interwoven pair of narratives, one relating the fascinating and sometimes moving life-story of a vintage Austin 7, the other recounting the car’s entertaining adventures with her latest owner, a lady not much younger than Miss Daisy herself … all that with a few practical workshop tips thrown in. What a delightful read.
A terrific reminder (particularly for baby boomers) of times past. Plus the added interest of a feisty car with a sense of humour! A good gentle read. No sex or violence and you finish the book with a smile on your face.