Back in the day

It is one of those sayings you hear so often “Back in the day” but what does it mean? Which day, what year? When.

As I get older it seems to me as there are more ‘back in the day’ moments all the time. Certainly, I never envisaged “back in the day” that I would get old, have arthritis, heart problems and sleep apnoea, but you never know do you?! Or that adjustable beds, riser recliner chairs, walking sticks and wheelchairs might be the order of the day!

Well back in the day when I first learnt to drive and passed my test my parents had a Renault Dauphine car. My Dad’s pride and joy. It had an advertising slogan that went “She holds the road, whatever the load, the Renault Dauphine!”. This was true providing you had a paving slab in the boot.

This photo is used under Fair Use: Fact-based public content

This was a rear-engined car trying to compete with the VW Beetle. ‘Back in the day’ you could almost say anything in an advert and get away with it, certainly, it didn’t hold the road just the slightest gust of wind could blow you off course.


Above all else, the Renault Dauphine taught me just what a very patient man my father was. Once I had passed my test he allowed me to borrow the car two or three times a week. To go and see whichever young lady was in my life at the time. We didn’t have a garage attached to the house but one just around the corner. In a block of about 12 others. Each night my dad would wait up for me and then go and put the car in the garage and walk back home, by which time I was already in bed.

Eventually, he decided it would be more sensible if I put the car in the garage and he went to bed. So a few practice runs in the daylight and I got the right angles to get the car through the garage doors but it was a bit of a squeeze. Then came that first night when I put it in the garage on my own! With doors that opened outwards rather than a roller shutter door or up and over door, it was difficult! Of course, I didn’t get it right and managed to get the front wing jammed on the garage door.

Walking back from the garage with the car part in and part out seemed a very long way as I imagined what my Dad was going to say! I explained what I had done and the two of us walked back to see his pride and joy hooked up on the garage. Dad eased the door away from the car and then moved the car back and got out. He then told me to jump in and put it away properly this time, which I did as he watched. He was the very essence of patience but I am not sure if he was seething underneath his calm exterior. The car was repaired and I always put it away myself after that without any further drama, but ‘back in the day’ I am sure my father had more patience than I would have.

So much has changed.

In the years since then so much has changed, 1962 was a very different place to now as we come up to nearly 2022. Mobility scooters didn’t exist nor did adjustable beds or riser recliner chairs. There was no such thing as the Blue badge scheme, but I don’t think traffic wardens existed then either!

Lisbon Grey

The cars were nowhere near the quality of those available today. If you look at the picture of the Renault Dauphine that I pranged against the garage door and imagine yourself driving that with its 3-speed gearbox!

No power steering and a front end so light it could take off when the wind was just breezy. Just be grateful that your ‘back in the day’ will not be the same as mine. I just hope your father is as patient with you as mine was with me, ‘back in the day!’