It was New Year’s Day, 1913 and Andrew was bored. Everyone in the house was sleeping off the after-effects of the Ball which his parents insisted on holding every stupid year. This meant that no one would be driving the motor car that day and this made Andrew smile. All he needed was to rev the old beast up, find Buster and then the two of them could be off to the seaside.
Buster wasn’t just Andrew’s dog, he was his best pal and was probably much cleverer than the boy – but then again, Buster wasn’t one to brag.
Andrew sat Buster in the driving seat as he pushed the car silently out of the stables and under the nose of Reynolds – the little man who looked after everything mechanical for the big house.
Andrew’s father promised his son his own motor car when it came to the time that he would go up to Oxford – until then he had to take every opportunity to teach himself the rudiments of driving. How hard could it be? I mean, Buster was steering the car along the drive and he was a dog.
Before they got to the big gates Andrew checked there was enough fuel to get them to the coast and back.
“Good man, Reynolds,” thought Andrew – Reynolds always kept the motor car in ship-shape and ready for the off. All Andrew had to do was turn the crank and that would be that. The motor car spluttered into life, shaking and banging before it settled down and began purr like a big cat.
Andrew hopped in and made Buster sit in the passenger seat (much to the dog’s annoyance). It was several minutes before the dog looked in Andrew’s direction again. Okay, so the dog was very clever and very friendly but it could get annoyed if it didn’t get its own way. Andrew knew how to bring Buster around by giving him a saucer of champagne – and not just any kind of champagne it had to be the 1893 and it had to be served at room temperature. Buster was a snob, as if I need to tell you.
It wasn’t long before they were on the road to the coast. Naturally being New Year’s Day, the road was empty of traffic without even a horse to be seen. The road was straight enough that Andrew felt confident to let Buster steer the car, Andrew worked all the other buttons and pedals.
Whether it was the effects of a late night or all the dancing at the Ball, sleep crept up on Andrew and he fell into a deep dream. Buster hadn’t noticed and wasn’t caring since he was driving a human car and it felt great. As they drove through the next town, a Mrs Styler of Heyham High Street looked out her window to see one of those new motor cars being driven by a dog and a man (who looked unconscious) in the other seat. She was going to mention it to her husband when she decided that he was already looking for an excuse to get her locked up and this would be the perfect gift for him, so she went back to bed and lay down in the darkened room.
Somewhere just outside of town the car ran out of fuel and Buster guided it to the side of the road. He then started to bark at Andrew. Okay Andrew would have heard it as just barking but to Buster it sounded as if he was telling his lazy friend to fill up the car with more fuel. After what seemed a very long time (which in dog’s years was probably true) Buster decided to fill up the car with fuel himself; a farmer who was in field nearby saw this and decided that he had been working too hard and for the first time in his life went home early.
Once again Buster barked and barked but he couldn’t get Andrew to waken so being a very self-reliant dog, it decided to turn the crank handle itself. With Andrew’s hands and feet still on the buttons and such like, the motor car suddenly moved off on its own. It shot down the coast road with Buster running behind barking that someone should try to stop the human motor car.
The Reverend Dunlop was opening his church doors when he saw a motor car driving down the road with the driver asleep and a dog running behind barking. He smiled to himself and continued with his work. Just as the motor car entered town, Buster managed to jump back on board and turn the car along the coast road. Buster knew he couldn’t stop the car – so his only options were to drive it into the sea, or let it run out of fuel, or try to turn the motor car around and head for home.
It was then that Buster noticed a large house with many dogs and bitches running around the garden. He turned the motor car into the drive and as the car laboured up the hill, he invited the other animals to jump aboard. As he drove the car out of the grounds there must have been nearly twenty dogs and bitches sitting in the motor car. Two of them were on top of the sleeping Andrew.
Buster continued driving along the coast and at the big pier, the car once again ran out of fuel. So leaving the sleeping Andrew in the car, Buster and his pals spent several hours running along the beach and stealing food when the humans weren’t looking. All too quickly the sun started to go down and so Buster filled the car with the last of the fuel, and got several of his pals to turn the crank.
After a very satisfying day, Buster drove back through the dogs’ home, dropping off his friends. It was dark when the car reached home and as Buster had no way of stopping it, he drove the car into the garage hoping the something would bring it to a halt. Actually the car burst through the back wall and continued across the lawn but by this time Buster had already jumped off.
Reynolds found a very confused Andrew several miles away in the forest where the motor car had eventually run out of fuel. Buster on the other hand was safely tucked up in his warm bed and dreaming of more adventures.
bobby stevenson 2017