MGBs and other animals
Have I told you that Colin is another MGB owner?* My poor darling hasn’t been out of the garage in about four years, and for at least the last three years I’ve been trying to screw myself, the ambiguous nature of ‘screw’ as a verb here is painfully embraced, to sell her. I’ve got the name of Colin’s MG specialist garage owner off him at least twice but keep bottling out of ringing up and saying ‘please take the last remnants of my mad youth away, polish her up and sell her to a good home.’ Colin has been listening to me whine about this now for—probably three years. Last Monday he said, do you want me to mention your MG to Mr Wartsila-Sulzer? Yes please, I said. —I have no shame.
Today when he showed up for handbells he said, Can I have a look at the MG? Because when Mr W-S says, what does it look like, I’d like to be able to say something more comprehensive than ‘Robin says it’s covered with dust’.
So I took him up to the garage where my MG is, indeed, covered with dust. And he looked her over and as he did so his eyes got brighter and brighter and he went um, ha, hmm, and then he said, Why don’t you just get it sorted and keep it? This is a really nice car.
Why not? he said, reasonably, although the mad MGB-owner glint in his eye was conspicuous.
Because the hellhounds won’t fit in the back seat! I said. I never quite got around to creating—or rather, hiring Atlas to create—a dog containment field for the last generation, but it was possible. These guys . . . not.
You don’t always take the dogs with you, Colin said, still reasonable and still glinty-eyed.
The problem is . . . he’s right. I don’t. And then he started in on how cheap they are to run** and how much fun they are to drive and and and and and . . . and Niall, drat him, was no help whatsoever since he was fielding another on-duty phone call which took FOREVER and I was thinking . . . I bought my little cream-coloured darling originally to go bell ringing in. When I first started ringing twelve years ago. Which is when Peter started playing bridge seriously again because I started being out kind of a lot of evenings. Whereupon we needed a second car. YAAAAAAAAY. My excuse at last. So I rushed into—New Arcadia, as it happens, to an old-car garage that no longer exists, and their eyes lit up and they said, no, we haven’t got a classic B at the moment but we’d be more than happy to find one for you, and they did.
See, I used to have to drive to go bell ringing. And then I moved to New Arcadia where I was two garden walls over from the bell tower and . . .
And now . . . um . . . ***
Robin, please explain how bells at the Abbey are part of the Olympic opening ceremony, as I can hardly imagine they can be heard in London, no matter how many there are.
SNORK. Sorry, but . . . SNORK. I guess I haven’t made it plain just how much of a frenzy the Olympics have plunged our rather small island into†—and how any conceivable manifestation of celebration is embosomed. Just as there were towers up and down the country ringing like dervishes as the torch galloped hither and thither, there are towers up and down the country ringing as a local greeting and acknowledgement of the opening day ceremonies in London. Sox Episcopi raised the money to have a village barbecue—which is entirely free. Usually all those village fete things exist as a way to raise money for some worthy project or other—the food may be donated, but the eaters pony up. But the teeny weeny local council decided they wanted to have a party for the Olympics . . . and so they are.†† If they don’t get rained out. Sigh.††† But there’s a lot of this going on. I have no idea who the dewy-eyed idealist is at the abbey who decided we should ring for it. Ours not to question why. And I’m saying ‘yes’ any time the abbey wants ringers. I have my own agenda.
As I was driving in—as I was, in fact, belting 70 mph down the motorway—there was something tickling my wrist. I glanced down and there was a GIGANTIC FRELLING SPIDER WALKING UP MY ARM.
Don’t stop there, please! What did you do with the spider? Did you just let it walk up your arm until you got to the abbey?
AAAAAAAAAUGH. No. I think I probably screamed. I then blew it off violently and it disappeared into the darkness of the passenger footwell. The only problem with this is that this meant that it was still somewhere IN THE CAR. I haven’t seen it since . . . but I am still thinking about it.
This wouldn’t happen in a MGB roadster with the top down.
* * *
* His is blue. I’m sorry, but the only acceptable colours for MGBs are red, cream^ and British Racing Green. I’ve never told him this.
^ What the description of mine calls ‘Old English White’
** Which is, perhaps surprisingly, ridiculously true. They’re too old and too, you know, modest^, to attract much official attention. You don’t pay any tax on them. Insurance is cheap. They even get decent mileage.
^ They were never front runners in any shape or form. I’ve always said they were sports cars for poor people. They are, of course, a cult. Those of us who love them would rather have a B than a 1962 Ferrari.+
+ Although I admit I’ve always secretly wanted an MGA. Too, that is, not instead of. But the thing about the Bs is that they aren’t so old they are a whole other country for those of us who aren’t serious dedicated car people. As kind of are.
*** We’re still running on NOOOOOOOOO. If I got her sorted and kept her, that means I have two cars, since Peter doesn’t drive any more, which is well beyond absurd^ for someone who works from home. And has hellhounds who wouldn’t fit in the back seat. But . . .
And where I’ve come up with this ‘remnants of my mad youth’ I have no idea since I was forty-eight when I bought her. I suppose some people’s mad youth hangs on more tenaciously than others, but . . .
^ And conspicuously consumptive, even if a B is a cheap thrill.
But the amount of tax money our precious government has shovelled into this tumefied spectacle makes me sadder.
Hee! I see you have gone native in this fair kingdom of ours.
When you’re paying taxes^ you do start feeling rather personal about how the money is spent.
Agree with you about being thoroughly demoralised about the Olympics however. I was quite pleased (since I don’t live in London) when I first heard we’d got the games.
I nearly lost a (n American) friend who asked me why I didn’t want the Olympics to come here. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
But all the administrative shambles, security theatre,
I can’t even . . . as the saying goes. It seems to me we could solve current unemployment in about forty-five minutes. Sign up the 2 million (or so) jobless to be Olympic security personnel. Two large squawking birds with one cream pie. And maybe we could put G4 Security out of business. Hmm. Although that would mess up our perfect unemployment solution. No, it would be worth it.
strong-arming of Olympic-themed trademarks (which other people have been using for decades) by corporate sponsors,
Some of this is so extreme it’s funny—since I have no intention of going.^^ You have heard, I assume, about how you are not allowed to consume x comestibles unless they bear the logo of y Olympic corporate monopoly? In some cases you may remove your choice of brand comestible from its native packaging and bring it to the Olympic grounds in a Plain Brown Wrapper. Snork.
celebrity torch-hogging (at the expense of ordinary people – some of whom had been promised a turn with the torch and were then turfed off so some irrelevant ‘celeb’ could carry it instead),
I did want to put in a word here for some local councils, including ours, who really did hand it round to ordinary people. We had some very ordinary people who were so life-enhancingly excited that I felt positively curmudgeonly. For about thirty seconds.
and the waste of money have totally soured me on the whole deal. I am clinging onto a tiny shred of hope that once the sports actually start it might get interesting again, but for now I am sick to the back teeth with it all.
I’m interested in the Jamaican eventer and the British dressage team. And that’s pretty much it.
I’ve done my little tap-dance about having been to the Tokyo Olympics as a kid, haven’t I? My father was in the US Navy and he was stationed in Tokyo, and his posting at the time was such that he was able to nail some good tickets. He and my mother went to more than I did, but I did go to the opening ceremonies ( . . . and the show jumping). And it was amazing. Some of this no doubt was being a kid. But some of it was just that the whole corporate sponsorship—or the security—thing wasn’t quite the monster fifty years ago that it is now.
^ Especially at a rate that your upbringing declares is communist
^^ And there are a surprising number of me—and, I assume, you—around: there are tickets to pretty much everything still available, including the opening and the closing ceremonies.
†† This is another of those things that makes me feel like a curmudgeon. For thirty seconds.
It seems we may get a bit of ‘normal’ summer soon, if the Met Office is right about the Jet Stream finally shifting north a bit and so also shunting further north all these low-pressure systems that have been hitting us. I certainly hope so – I’m distinctly damp and mouldy round the edges myself at the moment.
I’LL BELIEVE IT WHEN I SEE IT. ::wringing out hair, All Stars, hellhounds::
Previous generations’ alcopops. Feh.
Oh I say, that’s not quite fair. One can have Pimm’s that isn’t unduly sweet, it just depends what you mix it with. I used to enjoy the No 3 as well as the No 1 (which is good made with soda water and with borage flowers and cucumber chunks in it).
CUCUMBER CHUNKS? IN A DRINK? Ewwwww. To each her own. Although I think I may have (a) been exposed to the Wrong Sort of Pimm’s when I was still a tourist^ and (b) shot out of my depraved early experiments with rum and coke^^ and Scotch and ginger ale^^^ with a Bad Attitude.#
Have you read last week’s ‘The Ringing World’, with the front page article about the mania…er, devoted handbell ringers who have completed long lengths of Minor, Major, Royal and Maximus in one day? I thought this was a lovely way of putting it: “This would need over 18 hours of ringing: a fairly full day.” I am not sure that humans who can do that are really of the same species as the rest of us.
I as you might say failed to read it. I ring handbells. I don’t want to know. I don’t even want to know that Niall and Colin are going to be ringing a full peal of bob major with a couple of other loonies next Thursday . . . which is just fine with me, Peter and I are going out for our anniversary dinner. Our relationship is twenty-one on the 26th of July and old enough to vote. It will not be voting for David Cameron.
^ Possibly because I was a tourist.
^^ This is the only time and occasion in my life I did drink coke, mind you.
^^^ GODS. The things one does when one is culpably young and even more culpably stupid. This was before I discovered single malt, however.
# And I do like my cider somewhat warmer and furrier than extra-dry. But . . .
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