I have reason to remember Juan Carlos of Spain in Ireland because his visit occurred when I was a novice driver.
You always remember your first car. Mine was a red Chrysler Sunbeam that I bought second hand in the mid-1980s and loved to distraction. I particularly remember driving it in Dublin city centre one day back in 1986 when King Juan Carlos of Spain was on an official state visit to Ireland.
I had driven my dad to Dublin for an appointment. He couldn’t walk far that day because he was in a lot of pain and I remember how delighted I was when I managed to park on the street right outside the address. He and my mum disappeared in the door while I waited in the car. They were back within twenty minutes extremely pleased with how they had got on and with the rest of the afternoon now ours to spend at our leisure.
I was nursing secret pleasure and complimenting myself on being an awesome driver. Who else could have found parking right outside the door? Encouraged by my success, I decided on a whim to take them on a tour of the city centre — a kind of trip down memory lane for my Dad who had worked in Dublin in the 1950s.
I proceeded down to College Green past the Bank of Ireland and Trinity College. Then, suddenly, we were completely ensnarled in traffic as that part of Dublin came to a virtual standstill because of the King Juan Carlos of Spain in Ireland visit. We were delayed well over an hour as we made our way out of the city centre but it’s a day that I remember with affection and was reminded of today when I read the news that Juan Carlos plans to abdicate in favour of his son.