TRUE CON­VER­SA­TION AT THE CENO­TAPH

This England - - News - ROGER HARVEY

Ateacher took some pupils to the Ceno­taph on Ar­mistice Day soon af­ter Tony Blair came to power and got into con­ver­sa­tion with a war widow. The Prime Min­is­ter sud­denly ap­peared and the fol­low­ing di­a­logue took place:

“Oh, I see you are wear­ing your hus­band’s medals. You must be very proud of him.”

“Yes, Prime Min­is­ter. I am very proud of him but am glad he is no longer alive to see the state of the coun­try to­day.” Mr. Blair was shocked: “But Madam, your hus­band died to make Bri­tain safe for you and I and our chil­dren to live in.” ( bad gram­mar. Ed.)

“No, with re­spect, Prime Min­is­ter, he did no such thing. He didn’t die to make Bri­tain safe. He died to keep Bri­tain free .... but it is no longer a free coun­try!”

The PM promptly took to his heels. the com­mer­cial selling of news­pa­pers, it of­fers an ideal op­por­tu­nity for both praise and pic­tures, what­ever the re­sult.

Why shouldn’t chil­dren’s sport be cov­ered in the local media? Can any­one of­fer me a se­ri­ous ob­jec­tion as to why learn­ing how to lose is not ex­cel­lent train­ing for adult life? I can do no bet­ter than quote a for­mer chair­man of the Welsh Schools F.A. who made a bril­liant speech to the play­ers the night be­fore his team played England in an in­ter­na­tional match which I was priv­i­leged to or­gan­ise: “On the field it’s do or die but as soon as the fi­nal whis­tle sounds then you’re all friends again!”

1. My mother taught me about a job well done: If you’re go­ing to kill each other, do it out­side be­cause I’ve just fin­ished clean­ing! 2. My fa­ther taught me about time travel: Do that again and I’ll knock you into the mid­dle of next week! 3. My mother taught me about os­mo­sis: Shut your mouth and eat your tea! 4. My fa­ther taught me about irony: Keep cry­ing and I’ll give you some­thing to cry about! 5. My mother taught me about re­li­gion: You’d bet­ter pray that stain comes out of the car­pet! 6. My fa­ther taught me about logic:

Be­cause I say so, that’s why! 7. My mother taught me more about logic: If you fall off that swing and break your neck then you’re not com­ing shop­ping! 8. My fa­ther taught me about hu­mour: When that lawn­mower cuts off your toes, don’t come run­ning to me! 9. My mother taught me about re­ceiv­ing: You’re go­ing to get it when your fa­ther comes home! 10. My mother also taught me about hypocrisy: If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a mil­lion times — don’t ex­ag­ger­ate!

priced be­low even the cheap­est mod­ern car. Run­ning them can be sur­pris­ingly eco­nom­i­cal since costs of ser­vic­ing, and es­pe­cially in­surance, are dra­mat­i­cally lower. For ex­am­ple, I in­sure two clas­sic cars — one a sports con­vert­ible, the other a high­pow­ered lux­ury sa­loon — for less than half the cost of in­sur­ing one mid-range mod­ern car; and that in­cludes un­lim­ited mileage, Euro­pean cover, agreed value and other valu­able fea­tures. Pre-1975 cars are ex­empt from tax. Parts are read­ily avail­able from an in­creas­ing net­work of sup­pli­ers; ev­ery re­gion has its expert re­pair­ers and mo­torengi­neers spe­cial­is­ing in clas­sics. The cars are sur­pris­ingly green, too. It has been cal­cu­lated that con­struct­ing, selling and main­tain­ing one mod­ern car for a year pro­duces more waste and green­house gases than keep­ing 10 his­toric ve­hi­cles on the road for a sim­i­lar pe­riod. I am sus­pi­cious of fig­ures, es­pe­cially sen­sa­tional ones used in ar­gu­ments, but I have lit­tle doubt that ev­ery clas­sic car en­thu­si­ast is a model of good re­cy­cling and con­ser­va­tion prac­tice. Com­po­nents are re­stored, re-en­gi­neered and re-used, while bits and pieces emerge from dusty slum­bers in garages to shine anew.

So the cars are vi­able, sustainable, and eas­ier on purse and planet than might have been thought — but that’s not why we love them. We love them be­cause they are beau­ti­ful pieces of sculp­ture, fas­ci­nat­ing ma­chines, part of our her­itage, icons of style and lots of fun. If driv­ing the cars is a kind of po­etry in mo­tion, at­tend­ing the shows is a re­lax­ing idyll. Dap­pled sun­light on lus­cious paint­work, the gleam of polished chrome, the clink of pic­nic cups and glasses, the stately sway of great trees in their full green, high sum­mer in a ro­man­tic land­scape. Lovely! I can hardly wait to pol­ish the bumpers and pull on my string-backed gloves and see my wife tie her el­e­gant head­scarf the Ital­ian way. Who needs a sat­nav? We’ll take the old road. The car prob­a­bly knows the route any­way.

But you don’t ac­tu­ally need a clas­sic car to enjoy the shows. The venues of­fer a good day out for al­most any­one. If at a stately home or her­itage site, there is al­most al­ways access to the at­trac­tions of the house and grounds. A show­ground site may of­fer amuse­ments, events and demon­stra­tions. There is in­vari­ably a pic­nic at­mos­phere, ex­hibitors and vis­i­tors min­gling eas­ily with ami­able chat­ter. Peo­ple of all ages seem to love the day out. There is an in­fec­tious at­mos­phere both tran­quil and ex­cit­ing about strolling round the grounds of a beau­ti­ful venue ad­mir­ing clas­sic cars that so ob­vi­ously give plea­sure to their own­ers and other peo­ple. The word — not one we might use ev­ery day — is in­sou­ciance. The cars come from that de­lib­er­ately ill-de­fined golden time just be­hind the shoul­ders of our mem­ory, when per­haps hopes were higher, sum­mers were sun­nier, hol­i­days were proper treats and life was less com­pli­cated and more fun. Their glam­our is real and ac­ces­si­ble. They bring a po­tent mix­ture of in­no­cence and con­fi­dence, polished and work­ing, into our own less cer­tain times. Their nos­tal­gia value has never been higher, and the plea­sures of en­joy­ing it have never been bet­ter served. Go to the next clas­sic car show you can find and see what I mean.

Mor­ris Mi­nors and more mar­vel­lous mo­tors at Walling­ton Hall in Northum­ber­land.

(con­tin­ued) Left: Vin­tage three­wheel­ers gather at Up­per Ar­ley in Worces­ter­shire. Be­low: The au­thor's wife meets a ca­nine mo­tor­ing en­thu­si­ast at the Cor­bridge Clas­sic Car Show.

A much-loved Mor­ris Mi­nor Trav­eller at the Good­wood Re­vival. DAVID TUCKER

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.