Big Yellow Taxi

Having four daughters it was necessary for us to purchase a fine vehicle for transportation purposes. In the early days before we could afford a purpose built MPV we had to make do with an old but loveable yellow transit. It was in the days before the girls had developed a sense of embarrassment. Back then they would happily hold my hand as we walked down the street. They would run out of the school gates and great both parents with a hug and a kiss. Well before high school days arrived, however, they had discovered that whenever they saw their parents a rush of blood would fill their faces and they would blush with a high summer redness.

Our yellow people carrier, for that is what we called it in an attempt at making it sound posh, was fitted with all that we needed. Seatbelts on every seat, tow-bar for trailer or caravan, radio cassette for travelling entertainment and even a 12-volt kettle for refreshments on longer trips. A couple of chickens and a goat would have given us new-age traveller status in most counties.

In an attempt to remove the need for the customary shouts of ‘I need the toilet’ we took with us, on most journeys, a potty that we kept under one of the seats. I insisted on calling it a guzunder because it is a funny word and I wanted the girls to know some of the words that my mother had taught me.

‘Because it guz under the bed’ I would reply whenever asked and laugh as if I had never heard the joke before. I think it must be a genetic disposition that causes Dad’s to tell, repeat and continually laugh at the same bad jokes over and over again.

Because the bus was so long the children had to learn hand signals in order to get my attention in the front seats. This would mostly concern the need for a toilet break. On one such trip across the Pennines one of the girls had, having signalled, dutifully filled the receptacle with recycled Vimto and my wife was pleading with me to find a safe place to stop so that she could empty the contents. This being the Snake Pass there was very little chance of that happening for several miles, so I gave instructions for her to keep the guzunder steady for another twenty minutes.

She was not happy with this reply and decided to take the matter into her own hands on this sunny Saturday morning. Sliding open a side window she readied herself to empty the potty. Seeing what she was doing in the rear view mirror I shouted for her to stop because I knew that nothing good could come from this episode.

‘It’s ok’ she said ‘I will hold it low so that non of it will come back into the minibus’. My bride had mistaken the meaning of my outburst, for what she had failed to see was a gleaming open top car directly behind us. The driver and passenger enjoying the summer wind blowing through their hair as they travelled through the beautiful peak scenery.

Ignoring all of my garbled protestations my wife emptied the guzunder and, needless to say, the contents moved from our possession to the smiling faces of the couple behind.

When I informed my wife of the kindness that she had shown to the following strangers she ducked out of sight and screamed ‘go faster’. I informed her that Ford had not fitted this model of 2-litre diesel with go-faster stripes therefore I could not travel any quicker, especially as we were going up hill.

I know that I should have pulled over as soon as the road would allow so that we could apologise but you could have fried an egg on my face at the embarrassment of it all.

It wasn’t long before the open top sports car overtook our big yellow minibus and the driver and his companion showed their appreciation by teaching our children several hand signals that were not to be found in the Highway Code.