In a week when the news has left me jaded, my favourite story has been that of a 1938 Austin Seven Ruby which has just passed its first MOT, 54 years after it was last on the road. On 18th February 1941, the same car was almost written off by a Luftwaffe bomb in the town of Newmarket, Suffolk. Its owner, Alice Day, now 97, bought the vehicle from her father for £145 in 1938. She had parked the car outside her hairdressers minutes before the entire High Street was destroyed. Alice’s own escape was equally miraculous:
With sirens sounding, she went back to get her handbag because my engagement ring was in it. ‘As I put the ring on my finger I remember the yellow walls of the salon seemed to bend in two and without any bang whatsoever this tremendous force hit me in the back and blew me the length of the salon through the open doors. I finished up on a narrow ledge a large beam over the top of me holding up what was left of the building. I lay under the beam until I heard Mr Jellis the hairdressing trainer yelling at me “Stay where you are someone will come and get you”.’
Six others were not so lucky.