I was walking to get the bus this morning when I saw a cluster of young boys darting around a parked car. My first instinct was one of suspicion, but there didn’t seem to be any of the scowling furtiveness that I’ve encountered with mischievous or downright villainous kids recently.

They were happy in their game, faces bright and cheerful, and then they all got into the car and I heard them chattering away as I passed.

It reminded me of how my grandparents’ car was a centre of play and shared adventure when they came to visit. For many years we didn’t have a car ourselves: too expensive on my father’s wages as an Anglican priest. Our grandparents’ vehicle therefore was a totem of travel and adventure, and we would clamour to be allowed to go play in it while the grown-ups did… whatever it was grown-ups did.

That car was a spaceship, or an escape vehicle on the run from bad guys, or any number of excuses to change seats, flip switches, and listen to the radio for short periods of time so we didn’t run the battery down.

Funny how simple sights bring it all back.