My Grandad (my maternal grandfather, should you feel the need to know such things) was a self-employed roofer and fencer. Like many who work and have worked in such professions, he had a succession of vans – Bedfords and then, much later, Fords.
Because this was his only car, he always made sure that the vans were either fitted with seats, or had seats which could be added if the need arose.
My parents didn’t own a car until I was 19, so I did a lot of traveling in Grandad’s vans. My parents remember trips with me when I was a baby, telling me to “Look at the trees, the pretty trees” in a desperate attempt to stop me howling. I, on the other hand, have many memories of falling asleep in a van and only waking up as it came to a halt, either at our house or my grandparents’.
The van I remember most, though, had bench seats down either side. They were a handy place for Grandad to store things for the day job and, at other times, there was room to seat the entire family if needed. I vividly recall driving back home from Shropshire in that van, Gran and Grandad sat on the double seat in the front, my Uncle Allan driving (as he sometimes did) and the rest of us – aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, siblings, about a dozen of us – sat along the back benches, singing our heads off in an increasingly random interpretation of ‘One Man Went to Mow’.
All of which would be highly illegal nowadays. A shame, because until you have done it, you really don’t know what you are missing.