TRUE CONVERSATION AT THE CENOTAPH
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.