'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Monday, April 04, 2005

It's GRM Up North

No, I am not Mondeo Man, nor was meant to be. But I've narrowly avoided the solecism of acquiring a personalised number-plate - or at least one that could be mistaken for same.
A couple of months ago I managed to prang the car on a tight curve at the time of the Carlisle floods. No-one hurt, but the car was written off. In the course of searching for a replacement I soon realised that one of my unstated requirements was for a vehicle with a proper Cumbrian registration.
Three years ago the government re-organised the car registration system. Now all new local cars are registered to an office in Preston, with a 'PY' prefix. This meant the end of the old local Cumbrian registration codes 'AO' 'RM' and 'HH'. And like anything going out of fashion, they become desired. Call it evidence of unfinished business in respect of identity, but I'm not from Preston, and what does 'PY' mean anyway?
To me the old local suffixes are suffuse with associations of the imagination rather than just time or place. When I was a child the West Cumbrian suffix 'AO' on my parents' car always seemed open, round and enticing. It echoed the distant eeeeeyyhhoooohhh of the diesel trains rattling up to Carlisle on the line across from our house. The 'RM' suffix was quite different. It was full of the roar of rough engines, the power and excitement of my cousin's motorbike and wild trips to forbidden places. The Carlisle 'HH' on the other hand seemed far too polite, redolent of 'ahem ahem' and all the contrived gentility you associate with natives of the Red City.
In the end I went back to my roots, and found a car (on ebay of all unlikely places) being sold locally with a worryingly personal 'RM' suffix. So if you see a green Ford with a number plate ending in 'GRM' you'll know there's a bloggist inside.


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