I saw a sight last night I haven’t seen for what must be over 20-odd years. Driving down the road, I saw a small group of children dragging a home made bogey up a hill by the steering-string. I have to say, the sight of it really took me back to my childhood. And yes, deep down inside, I really wanted a shot of it.
Now, for those of you that are not familiar with the term ‘bogey’, I am referring to what we in the West of Scotland called a home made death-trap of a vehicle. Folks from other geographies may variously describe it as a ‘guider’, ‘trolley’, ‘kart’, ‘soap-box cart’, ‘mini-kart’, ‘box-car’ and probably many other terms.
The idea was simple, you made your bogey out of whatever pieces of scrap you could find, then you found the steepest hill closest to where you lived and you hurled yourself down said incline, atop your home made death-trap. Making it to the bottom of the hill was a triumph. Making it to the bottom uninjured was a miracle.
These classic vehicles were constructed lovingly from items retrieved from the local dump an any other places where things were thrown out. The key bit was getting wheels. Usually the inspiration to construct a bogey was prompted by stumbling across some discarded pram wheels; “Look, wheels! Let’s make a bogey.”
Once you had the wheels, then you needed wood, lots of wood. A bit like the hunt for wood in the lead up to Bonfire night, only you were a bit more particular. Then you had to ‘borrow’ someone’s Dad’s hammer and nails, and sometimes, if you were lucky, a saw. After injuring yourself and your pals in many creative ways; “you hold the nail and I’ll hit it”, during the construction phase, came the test run.
It was acknowledged the person who found the wheels usually ‘owned’ the bogey and had the honour of doing the trial run. This was generally the safest time to try it out, as there was little expectation and no record to beat. It was later in the day when it got really dangerous, as everyone was going hell-for-leather down the hill, trying to get the fastest time, or most creative driving style; some head-first, some backwards, some steering with their feet, or teeth.
Valuable life lessons I learned making bogies:
- The bogey is in charge, you are merely a passenger for this particular ride.
- If you don’t lean into a turn, you invariably come off.
- You can’t steer with castors as your front wheels, no matter how good your string is.
- The skin on your knuckles never heals as quickly as you think it should.
If you had seen it, you would have wanted a shot too.