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Thirteen: Jaguar versus Malvern Star

For my twelfth birthday I was given a silver Malvern Star bicycle. It was a special racing model with a lightweight frame. Most of the kids that I played with already had bikes, but my mother had been reluctant to buy me one because she thought they were dangerous in the traffic on our hill. I was persistent in my demands and eventually she relented. Now I had the newest and "lairiest" bike in Queenscliff.

On weekends, a few boys from Queenscliff would ride down the hill and along the flat of Manly to the wharf. We would pause at Burt's milkbar to drink some exotic concoctions -- my favourite was a Javana sling -- before returning via the beach. Riding under the pines, we looked at the surf and at the colourful people along the beachfront. The young men who were a few years older than us were to be envied. They had girls to take to the beach. Some of them had motorbikes, and a few even had cars. Although much too young to hold a licence, we boys were already fascinated by the various makes and models of cars. We often played a game of spotting new or unusual types.

One hot Saturday, as I pushed my bike back up the hill at Queenscliff, I was forced to move to the side of the road by a car coming rapidly from behind. It was a shiney white Jaguar XK120 -- the first of these open "racing" cars that I had ever seen.

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