Cars


The Crimson Welshman left here a couple of hours ago, having borrowed my sofa for a couple of days. As luck would have it, he managed to get here on the weekend of the annual Crash-Box Classic Car Club rally at Powderham Castle, so we’ve been up to quite a lot in between the downpours.

I met the Crimson Express on Friday evening, and we headed back to the flat to have some beer and work out where we were going to spend the evening. After a laughable absence of deliberation we decided on the Grove, which is a nice pub on the sea front that’s great if you watch your sunglasses like a hawk. After a restful couple of beers in there we made our way to the Ganges for curry and more beer before ambling back to mon repos for gin and tonics and some more beer. I really regretted that curry on Saturday morning, but as usual it was nice at the time. The Ganges is a great restaurant, where you can always get a table and they play some truly bizarre music. Usually it’s sitar versions of famous popular songs. Watch their Madras sauce, though: it’s a bit on the spicy side.

When I came back from a turn in the garden to find my Cambrian comrade had fallen asleep, I called it a night. It certainly was a long and broken night, requiring early-morning window opening and allowing for very little actual sleep. Eventually I gave up the unequal struggle against consciousness at about nine, which I reckoned to be a vaguely respectable time for a chap to start making tea.

Once we’d tidied ourselves up enough to pass for human we hopped into Sceadufell and headed over to the car show. This is only the other side of the river from Exmouth, but the nearest bridge is at Exeter and it’s a long detour.  We got there around one, expecting the heavens to open at any moment, and immediately I began to take pictures. These are the highlights of my day.

A Ford Mustang that turned out to have bullet hole transfers stuck to it.

A Ford Mustang that turned out to have bullet hole transfers stuck to it.

Another of Ford's classics, this time from Ford UK: an Escort RS2000

Another of Ford's classics, this time from Ford UK: an Escort RS2000

A CG 1200 Spider, one of only twenty made. Subtle colour.

A CG 1200 Spider, one of only twenty made. Subtle colour.

More French engineering. This 1906 Renault upstaged all of its newer relatives on their stand.

More French engineering. This 1906 Renault upstaged all of its newer relatives on their stand.

People rave about the Veyron, but this is what I call a Bugatti.

People rave about the Veyron, but this is what I call a Bugatti.

The show was so popular that James Bond had turned up. Well, a silver-grey Aston Martin DB5 did anyway.

The show was so popular that James Bond had turned up. Well, a silver-grey Aston Martin DB5 had anyway.

Some really nice Bentleys that are worth the same as a small suburban housing development.

Some really nice Bentleys that are worth the same as a small suburban housing development.

The beauty of this Alvis is only partially marred by the Crimson intrusion.

The beauty of this Alvis is only partially marred by the Crimson intrusion.

It's the 101st anniversary of the Ford Model T this year. Happy birthday, Lizzie

It's the 101st anniversary of the Ford Model T this year. Happy birthday, Lizzie

This Sherpley Speed Six lost an argument with a French bridge. The owner is working on repairing it.

This Sherpley Speed Six lost an argument with a French bridge. The owner is working on repairing it.

A native American dream bike. One of many nice motorcycles that we saw.

A native American dream bike. One of many nice motorcycles that we saw.

It wasn’t just about cars, of course. I ran into my compadres from the MX-5 Owners’ Club, which this year celebrates its fifteenth anniversary and the twentieth anniversary of the MX-5 itself. I got to be in the picture, despite not having got Sceadufell down on the list to go on our stand. There were also a number of stores selling various car parts, tools and assorted bric-à-brac, one of the more obscure items being a very distressed four-inch shell casing. I needed an umbrella stand, so I bought it.

I pose with my new purchase in front of a suitable vehicle.

I pose with my new purchase in front of a suitable vehicle. I had to wait about a minute for the picture to happen, so my expression slipped a bit.

At about half-past three on Saturday afternoon, the threatened rain arrived. We left the show just as it started, and by the time we got back to HQ it had settled in for the night. We decided to catch the early showing of the new Sacha Baron Cohen film, then eat some pizza, start drinking and choose a pub.

How exactly can I describe Brüno? ‘Unbelievably obscene’ is certainly one description; ‘breathtakingly offensive’ is another, and equally apt. I think that the description that best suits my experience of it, however, is ‘the funniest thing I’ve seen all year’. From the eponymous hero’s Velcro suit disaster, to Cohen being chased by enraged orthodox Jews, to the cage fight that turns into a gay love scene, it just never stops providing scenes that make you laugh like an idiot while disbelieving the sheer tastelessness of it all. Par exemple: at one point Brüno declares his intention to become “the greatest Austrian superstar since Adolf Hitler”. The list of groups that might be offended by this film is so long that I think everyone belongs to at least one of them. The star will get himself lynched one of these days, but I hope it doesn’t happen for a long time yet.

We carried through our plan to the letter, and even got a chance to play some pool. The band in the Phoenix were great, and when finally, back at the flat, we drank our last gin and tonics of the evening, we did so with the knowledge of a day replete with achievement.

This morning I suffered. I’m still suffering, despite having a walk along the beach in the sunshine; despite having found a copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell at the car-boot sale.  I did, however, manage to clean up my new umbrella stand by soaking it in the bath for a couple of hours. I left most of the patina in place, but I gave it enough Brasso to clean off the outer layer of dirt and give it a slight metallic sheen. It looks good in the corner next to the bookshelf.

My clean shell casing in all its majesty, complete with umbrella.

My clean shell casing in all its majesty, complete with umbrella.

Now that I’ve reported all of the significant events of this weekend, I think it’s high time that I got to bed. Too many great songs have come from the random play function over the last couple of days for me to list them all, but following a Gregorian chant with the Deftones was a stroke of genius on the part of my computer. With that I shall bid you good night.

Good night (told you).

While I was slaving away in the sweltering plaster room today, a helpful fellow was washing my car for me. This is the best service that anyone can provide, because frankly I’m too tired at the weekend (not to mention too lazy all the time) to clamber in and around Sceadufell getting the paintwork from grey to black again. Once it’s done, though, how satisfying the result. The leather smells of upholstry conditioner; the footwell mats are black, not a sort of dirty, speckled charcoal, and all of the plastic looks about ten years younger.  Gone are the calling cards of a thousand seagulls (apparently I’m not allowed to shoot them), and once more I can don my sunglasses, ditch the roof and not look like some sort of high-class vagrant.

Of course, on a day when I’m happy with my general road image the roads themselves would decide to be absolutely packed for no obvious reason. Well, I can think of at least one: it’s July and this is a Devon seaside town. We’re about to earn about half of the county’s annual income in two months. As you’ll already know if you’re a regular on the Exmouth web cam site (and why on earth wouldn’t you be?) the swings are back on the sea front, the swan-ships of the Teleri are back in Alqualondë and the ice-cream parlours have stocked up on Exmouth rock. It’s a bit crowded, but the town gets more interesting at this time of year.

Alqualondë. Behold its other-worldly majesty.

Alqualondë. Behold its other-worldly majesty.

Believe it or not, that’s all I have to say. It’s Thursday and not much happens between Monday and Friday around here apart from work. The most significant event of this week has been the arrival of a new tenant for the long-vacant flat 3, and that’s hardly worth more than this sentence. Just to bulk out this post and make it look as though I’m communicating more than bland nonsense, here are a few more titles from my regular source of non-information, Bizarre Books.

Nolan, Dennis. The Joy of Chickens (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1981)

Baum, Harold. The Biochemist’s Songbook (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1982)

First Report of the Standing Advisory Committee on Artificial Limbs (Ministry of Pensions, 1947)

Creed, J.R. The Art of Making Faces (Pearson’s Magazine, 1897)

Carter, W. Rhythmical Essays on the Beard Question (n.p. 1868)

Blanchard, Charles Elton. The Romance of Proctology (Youngstown, Ohio: Medical Success Press, 1938)

To conclude, a classic example of an Edwardian title that I think I may have to read one day:

Hutchinson, Sir Jonathan. On Leprosy and Fish-eating: A Statement of Facts and Explanations (Constable & Co., 1906)

Your quotation for today addresses concerns that I feel regularly on perusing the steam-driven interweb.

Well! Some people talk of morality, and some of religion, but give me a little snug property.

Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849), The Absentee

dirty

Only a Viking would say this just before he dies, so not surprisingly today’s title is taken from one of Hyglak’s lines in The 13th Warrior. As one might expect since I’m going Hollywood Norse, it has indeed been a good day.

The first good thing that happened was that my nerdy, overpriced new mug arrived from Cafepress this morning, which meant that I could have a full-grown mug of tea at work for the first time in years. This was such a significant event in my life that I took a picture of said mug, complete with tea.

That's what I call a proper cuppa

That'll cure the shakes.

Later I discovered that one of my friends plans to visit next weekend, which means that I get to have some company without haring across the country all weekend. It also means that I can go to the big car show at Powderham Castle next Saturday, take the convertible and generally show off. I can look forward to that while spending a blissfully inactive couple of days at home this week. A significant coup on the planning front there.

As this was happening, it became increasingly obvious that there wasn’t much for me to do at work, which meant that I could waste my morning and most of my afternoon on the internet. The rain and cloud of last night and the morning cleared up, making way for blinding sunshine and blazing heat, but the air conditioning kept the office just about habitable. Still no complaints there, then.

Yesterday we contacted the supplier about my stereo, and today we had a response. I’d been dreading pulling the unit out, because I can’t just put the old one back in and I’d be without a stereo until a replacement arrived. The news was to be good there as well. They replied that the satellite navigation problems I mentioned earlier are a designed feature. All I need to do to stop that happening is press a single button on the facia once, a fact that the ridiculous instruction manual failed to mention. Since that manual looks as though it made its way from Mandarin to English via Swahili, Navajo, Estonian, Finnish, Welsh and Portuguese, each translation courtesy of Babelfish, that isn’t particularly surprising. This means that the whole thing is working now; I have GPS capability, can play MP3s, VCDs, DVDs and goodness only knows what else, and I can plug in an SD card full of music and set it to random play. I almost want to go on another five-hour car journey now.

Finally, as I left work I could do so with the roof down and some German industrial music blaring out fit to raise the dead. If I hadn’t had to go to work today, I think it would have been perfect.

Normally this would call for more music, but my computer is refusing to play ball and only giving me depressing songs. Chris Isaak? After a day like today? No, thanks. I’m in more of an Aerosmith mood this evening.

I nearly forgot to mention that GlobalComment have published another poem I wrote. This time it’s about losing drinking companions to the responsibilities of family life. I’m such a cheery cove.

[Edit: the day continues well. My computer took the Aerosmith thing on board and gave me F.I.N.E. How cool is that?]

I like cars. I like to drive them, I like to talk about them and I like to look at them. Yesterday I went over to see my mechanic to ask about fitting my birthday present into Sceadufell, and he mentioned that he was displaying his Triumph GT-6 over at Beer today. That was all the excuse I needed to break out the car wax, my nastiest rock compilation and a pair of sunglasses, and see what was transpiring at the Pecorama. The rest of this post is shameless car pornography.

Jaguar XK120, in biscuit with red leather interior.

Jaguar XK120, in biscuit with red leather interior.

Left: C-type Jaguar. Right: replica D-type Jaguar. Fear the sexy cats

Left: C-type Jaguar. Right: replica D-type Jaguar. Fear the sexy cats

Porsche RS60 Spyder. Lucky for the owner.

Porsche RS60 Spyder. Lucky for the owner.

The E-type Jaguar. So beautiful that a French art gallery exhibited one.

The unspeakably gorgeous E-type Jaguar. Background: TVR Tuscan. Lots of other nice cars as well.

Austin Healey 3000. I would do unspeakable things to own one of these.

Austin Healey 3000. I would do unspeakable things to own one of these.

Triumph TR3 in British Racing Green.

Triumph TR3 in British Racing Green.

MG TC. A true gentleman's roadster.

MG TC. A true gentleman's roadster.

Triumph GT6. Two litre straight six engine, red leather and walnut trim.

Triumph GT6. Two litre straight six engine, red leather and walnut trim.

Douglas Adams fans: this is what a Ford Prefect looks like

Douglas Adams fans: this is what a Ford Prefect looks like

Replica 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster replica. 4.2 litres, six cylinders. You try ignoring it.

Replica 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster. 4.2 litres, six cylinders. On the right is a Morris Minor. Aren't car shows great?

That E-type again

That E-type again

1935 Alvis S.A. 13.22 "Firebird" Saloon

1935 Alvis S.A. 13.22 "Firebird" Saloon

A Ford Galaxie full of Elvis memorabilia

A Ford Galaxie full of Elvis memorabilia

My father learned to drive in one of these. An Austin A40

An Austin A40. My father learned to drive in one of these.

The C-type Jaguar again

The C-type Jaguar again

1921 Rover 12, rescued from an orchard in 1985

1921 Rover 12, rescued from an orchard in 1985

Left: Triumph TR6; centre: Triumph TR5; right: Triumph TR7

Left: Triumph TR6; centre: Triumph TR5; right: Triumph TR7

Foreground: MGB; background: 1988 Renault Alpine V6

Foreground: MGB; background: 1988 Renault Alpine V6

The Rover radiator ornament, 1921. It says 'Rover' across his shield.

The Rover radiator ornament, 1921. It says 'Rover' across his shield.

Ginetta G27, with an MGB in the background. Nice.

Ginetta G27, with an MGB in the background. Nice.

Well, that’s quite enough of that. Needless to say, Beer was lovely. No clouds, blazing sunshine and a packed beach. It rained for last year’s event, so hardly anyone turned up. This year was just a riot of different cars and various enthusiasts being enthusiastic. There were hardly any ordinary cars to be seen and for once mine looked quite boring. It was great. If you don’t like cars, however, you just wasted your time reading this.