Out and about on a socially distanced walk in the vivid green British countryside with my good friend Robin, the best of company, with a picnic and a beer brought along named after the inventor of the lawn mower: Edwin Budding. I can’t recall a much better day in many respects, except when we last did it, without distancing and when the pubs were open. It was so green I thought my camera, locked down for weeks, might have a bit of a ‘turn’.
My mother’s sister Alice, her husband Stan and their son Peter, my cousin. This photograph was probably taken by one of those beach photographers that one used to find in British seaside resorts in the 1950s. I can see that Alice is not too enamoured by the prospect of having it taken, she never really liked having her picture taken much. She and my mum were so close that she would lick the chocolate off my mum’s caramels as she did n’t like it. She did like the caramel which Alice left for her. In many ways they were alike and in others quite unlike each other. Stan was the archetypical working class man, a fitter at a large glass factory in St Helens, he kept their fleet of trucks on the road. St Helens is sometimes known as Glasstown as it was the home of Pilkington Glass. My Grandfather worked there, my Aunty Mabel worked there, but Stan worked for United Glass, another massive glass company in the town. The two of them made their home in the town in a small house which they never moved from, and it was there that they brought up my cousin Peter. They were devoted to him, working hard to give him every advantage they could, which he repaid in full.
In many respects he was brother number three to me, a year older than my older brother. He was a good humoured and friendly boy and man, who cared deeply about his family, both his parents and later his wife and children, then grandchildren.
Our times together were really in the 50s and the 60s, and then we sort of drifted apart. We kept in touch, but it was a bit of a tenuous link as Peter stayed for a while in the North and I went South. We met only, it seemed at funerals, the most recent my father’s around 4 years ago, when Peter and his wife Cathie came to pay their respects to my Dad. A show of respect that I shall always remember
Peter has just died. He suffered from a form of Alzheimers. A cruel disease that was cruel to him. Neither my brother or I can go to his funeral due to the Coronavirus rules, so we cannot voice our thoughts to his family as he did for us when one of ours left this earth.
I would not normally post or write publicly about these things but I need to tell people what a great bloke he was. How he was an important part of my growing up. That I’m sorry that I did not see him more in later years. That I mourn his passing.
In these times when you think it might be a good idea to at least listen to some books, if not read some, you might consider downloading an audible book or three. I thought it a good idea, and steeled myself to buy something from Amazon. I could at least congratulate myself that no poor person was being forced to pack this item as it all came to me through the ether, or to be more exact, it was supposed to. But it did n’t.
Now I am a big fan of tech. I decided years ago that I would embrace it, learn from it, respect it, try to work out the logic of the person who might have sat up for nights writing the code that makes it work, or not work. The main rule for me then was not to get frustrated by it. To be calm. Not to mutter at it, kick the desk, swear at the screen, or get in any way cheesed off. I thought that if I did this it would work and everyone would be happier.
I also chose to use, if at all possible, the so called ‘chat help lines’ on these big platforms to get help. Here I found a way to assemble my thoughts on an issue and write it down for the poor chatterer in some other dimension, to type back to me with a solution. But even I, having used this method for some years to great success, have a ‘cheesed off by date’.
I think that a rolling wheel, looking a little like a hamster toy, is perhaps the most aggravating thing to see on a screen. I’ve been watching a hamster wheel doing just that for far too long this morning as I try to get some help downloading an audio book from the Big A people.
Jomo tried to help and suggested that I update the iPad, which I did, but the dreaded hamster wheel is back, and the hamster seems to have gone out for a while. I lost connection with Mr Jomo when I updated so it’s all back to square one. I have to give my story to the detectives yet again. ” In your own words Mr Davies please describe what happened at the scene of the crime” ” But I’ve already told Detective Jomo about this, it was Mr Hamster, in the library, with the lead piping” ….” Im afraid your going to have to tell me all about it again”
Is this rough justice for getting involved in the Big A.
What goes around comes around and that little hamster wheel carries on going round.
Came across this the other day on our official walk exercise for the day. Looks to me like an Anderson Shelter, these were made by the Government and were intended to protect the population of London from the Nazi Bombs that rained down during the Blitz. They were not altogether that effective, were easily flooded, damp and very uncomfortable I have read recently. They did help lift morale as they gave the impression that the Government was doing useful things to help its people. Where have I heard that recently.
This model now sits in a field not far away from where we live, so it has at least lasted. Then again I could be wrong, it might just be a pig pen.
Here’s a drawing for a change. This is from Glossary: my guide to Gloucestershire Place names and I’m dropping this in to celebrate the launch of my new website, which is over here.
The new site is not yet finished, I’ve been busy isolating myself.
Filkins: Bits found in your pocket after they’ve been put on a hot wash by your nearest and dearest. Tiny white dots are now evenly distributed like super glued dots all over the garment, and are as permanent as any printed pattern.
Framilode: Very heavy shopping, that clinks.
France Lynch: Meaning neither here nor there, many applications.
All three of the above place names are in Gloucestershire and in fact I used to live in dear old France Lynch. Framilode is by the River Severn, don’t go here, it’s undiscovered and needs to stay that way. Lovely spot, unlike Filkins which are a pain in the neck.
That actually means that we’ve sold you a product and tested it on you, but it does not work properly. So we are fiddling with your existing product, that does not work properly and we will then test this on you, to see if this one works. If this does not work we’ll be coming back and trying something else.
When you bought your Standard Motor Car you got exactly that. They’d tested it as best they could back at the factory and it was safe, within reason, and had the basic bells and whistles. It stayed pretty much like that for most of it’s limited life. Now it’s very different. You might get Standard Product, but it will not be quite as expected, the ‘garage’ will send an automatic update that will give it a new engine every 6 months or so. They will move the handbrake or replace it with a new and improved handbrake system, without telling you how to operate it. They will give you a link to a website that will tell you how it is supposed to be operated, and there will be a group of other frustrated handbrake operators like yourself who will form an online group. They will be called discussion groups or even a community, though that is never what they are. Within this community you can grumble about handbrakes until you go blue in the face but they will not persuade the makers of the Standard Product that the old system was fine, and that they could have saved thousands of pounds of developer time by sending the handbrake developers to a school for sewing where they would be better employed making gowns for the NHS.
Below is a piece by my late friend and collaborator Gordon Thorburn, which touches on the same subject in a way. It’s from a book that we created together called “Some Missing Persons”, and is about creatures that are no longer with us, or are in danger of extinction. In this case there are still Men who mend cars, but very few.
Men who mend cars.
Sometime in the 1970s, a design engineer had the idea of putting a computer in a car. At that instant, an entire breed was sentenced to death and we can expect Man Who Mends Cars to be virtually extinct in the western world by about 2015AD. Then, there will remain only a few isolated individuals within whom will reside the last shreds of knowledge about how to repair cars rather than psychoanalyse them and reconstitute them with plug-in components.
By then, except in Famagusta and at Classic Car rallies, you will never see a Ford Cortina nor any kind of Austin, Morris, Triumph or Hillman. All old-style VW Beetles will have been squashed flat. No Citroen Deux Chevaux will be worth flogging. People will think the Fiat 500 is the Italian share index.
There will be no cars left without fuel-injected air-conditioned sports warranties and three-year ABS alloy airbags. Every car will bong at you to say that you have left the door open, the handbrake is on and you haven’t fastened your belt yet. Equally newsworthily, every car will tell you that it’s cold outside and there are roadworks on the M6. Every car will have more buttons on its radio/CD dooberry than were once considered necessary for the entire dashboards of twenty MG-TCs.
Meanwhile, Man Who Mends Cars looks out onto the road and sees a never changing stream of vehicles which are incomprehensibly complex inside and whose outsides cannot be told one from another. Eventually, the only task within his capabilities will be changing a tyre.
Today, if you want to spot Man Who Mends Cars, you will need to go to a small country town (non-commutable) or the back streets of a poor area of the city. Look for a rusty sign saying National Benzole or Pratt’s Motor Spirit. There, inside a dark cavern with a rectangular hole in the floor, will be a stove burning sump waste. You will see some motor cycles (BSA C15, Ariel Square Four, Triumph Tiger Cub, Norton Dominator), the bonnet and wheels of a Riley Elf and several wiring harnesses on a hook. In the chaotic area designated ‘office’, there will be a picture of a Jowett Javelin, some horrible items to do with making tea, and a girlie calendar for 1972 provided by RW Grimbagg & Sons (Abrasives) Ltd.
The man himself, in a dark blue over-all, will be sitting on a bentwood chair eating a king prawn jalfraisi, part-payment for a job he did last year on the Taj Mahal owner’s daughter’s Mini Moke.
Man who mends cars always had someone who could be called Man who mends cars consultant, a smallish chap who would share his tea and voice the occasional opinion on the merits of the much lamented Jewett Javelin.
A Park Ranger and a bear in April in LA, Bet it was hot in that suit.
One of a series of drawings from earlier posts when I tried to use the same basic drawing as often as possible. I tired of it eventually, I think others did too.
A truck in a farmers yard in South West France, it’s a mobile still, he used it to brew a sort of liquor, probably highly illegal but it was in France so people probably just gave a Gallic shrug.
Sign in LA.
Guiting Power: An actual place name in Gloucestershire which derives from the ability of the local vicar to be able to power a large bicycle at a consistent speed whatever the gradient.
Man in y fronts looking for a phone signal.
Liquor store: LA
Telegraph pole: LA
Old Volvo Truck which I think was in Sardinia.
Watercolour painting in Britain.
My Rhubarb on the plot. Love rhubarb.
One of my twin grandsons, not sure which one.
My work place, at least in my mind.
An Austin A40. My Aunty Alice had one of these and to say they were small is an understatement. She claimed to have invented the screen washer after she took a squeezy bottle of soapy water with her on each journey and would squirt it on the windscreen from her driving position. It was a small enough car to be able to do this without a lot of effort.
These are from all over the place from the UK, USA ,Greece, Italy, Montenegro and the poppy was on my allotment last year.