The Anonymous Widower

Memories Of Deauville

With the G8 summit being in Deauville in the next few days, I’m reminded of a few stories from  the French seaside resort.

The first time, C and I went, we drove along the coast after taking her first red Lotus Elan over on the ferry. It actually was the only overseas trip we did in the car, before she replaced it with the one that I still own.

We did all of the usual touristy things, like seeing the Bayeau Tapestry, the Mont St. Michel and the port of Honfleur, but two things stand out.

When we went to the races, we parked the car next to a Ferrari Testarossa.  It was immediately surrounded by French kids, which I think says a bit for the pysche of the French, who tend to prefer the small and perfectly formed like Piaf and Sarkozy. 

We also were sitting in a cafe in the main street, enjoying a good lunch, when a guy drove up on the opposite side of the street in a BMW convertible and showed everybody how to park a car in a space that was a metre or so too short. He just shunted the cars in front and behind until the space was large enough. Everybody in the cafe enjoyed it and gave him a good Gallic cheer, when he locked his car and walked away. Unfortunately, we had virtually finished lunch and had to move on, so we never saw the end of the story.

We did go to Deauville a couple of years later in my Cessna 340A with our middle son and his friend, Andy, for a day at the races. We had a good day, but at the end of the day we were treated to one of the worst displays of bad manners I’ve ever seen.

When you want to leave a small airport, you fill in all the appropriate paperwork and then go to your aircraft, request permission to start your engines if required and then when that is complete, you request permission to taxi. Deauville was quite busy that day, with several aircraft wanting to leave. So as you do, we just formed an orderly queue until ATC gave us permission to enter the runway and takeoff.

But this wasn’t good enough for one American.  He just passed the queue in his private jet and to various cries of “Sacre Bleu!” and “You don’t have permission!”, he just lined up and took off. What an idiot!

When the man died a few years ago, I actually felt relieved that such a rude man had gone.  It is very rare that I do that!

Sadly there are many more rich, famous and very rude these days.

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Business, Sport, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Range Rover Evoque

I went to a launch on the Range Rover Evoque at Earl’s Court last night. In some ways it was a bit of a waste on me, as I don’t drive, but a friend thought ashe might buy one, so she thought she’d take an engineer along.

I won’t comment too much about the vehicle, but I think it will sell well, especially if the 58 mph claimed for the diesel is obtained by real drivers. If I hadn’t had the stroke, I would probably have at least given one a test drive to replace my X-Type Jaguar estate. But it will never match the style and panache of my Lotus Elan.

What annoyed me was the presentation.  It was all about style, with plenty of scantily-clad boys and girls, lots of lights and very little substance about the tjings that matter in a car.  They didn’t even have any brochures!

Ten or so years ago, the lights would have caused me to have a headache and lose my vision.  But since, I’ve been gluten-free that doesn’t happen anymore to me. So perhaps, it was a good test that my brain and eyes are working well in unison. But if I had needed to leave the presentation, it wasn’t obvious how I would have done it.

When I was shown the Discovery 2 or 3, it was an invite to a nice hotel and then I was given a map to take it for a drive.  I didn’t buy one, but it was much more persuasive than a horde of scantily clad ladies.

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 6 Comments

Memories of Wymondham

I actually passed through Wymondham twice today and not only is it the nearest station to where my Lotus Elan was built, but it has precious memories of the time in the 1960s, when I was courting C.

For two summers she worked as a mother’s help for a family called Wright, who lived at Hingham, looking after their three children Amanda, Caroline and Timothy.

The two girls were bridesmaids at our wedding in 1968, but we lost contact with them all over the years, despite living only an hour or so away.

November 28, 2010 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Did Anybody See Top Gear on Sunday?

If you didn’t, it’s repeated tonight on BBC2 at 8:00.

They asked the team to buy three reasonably priced UK-built sport cars and Richard Hammond turned up in a Lotus Elan like mine. What he didn’t say about it, was that Elans are second only to E-Types, when it comes to pulling posh birds of a cerain vintage!

He was also unable to show, how it is still one of the fastest cars across country. Read some of my posts from last year about the car.

Interestingly, I am now driving the car again, in and out of its garage and round the yard.  I can’t do this with my Jaguar as the clutch is too strong for my gammy left leg.

Perhaps, one day I’ll be back on the road!  But it will be in the Elan!

August 3, 2010 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Digital Radio

I generally listen to the radio through SKY or Freeview, except when I’m in the car.  The government wants to switch off the AM and FM signals, but they don’t seem to be getting far according to this BBC report. People just won’t switch.

I tried an add-on digital radio for my 5-year-old  Jaguar, but I couldn’t get it to work. As the radio for that car is fully integrated with Bluetooth and my phone, I doubt a proper replacement will be available, especially as the car is being discontinued.  An add-on for the Lotus Elan is probably easier, as that car has a replacement modern Sony radio with a USB connection.

So what would owners of cars like my Jaguar do to get radios, if the AM and FM signals were discontinued.  Probably moan a lot and not vote for the government next time. You wouldn’t spend several thousand to change your car, just to get the added safety of a radio on the move!

AM and FM may not be as good as digital, but this does seem to be rather a bodged and badly-thought out change.

By the way, when I’m in the near-continent, I get the BBC on AM.  Are the BBC doing to abandon, the many people who listen to Radio 4 on LW?  It looks like they are!

July 8, 2010 Posted by | News, World | , , | Leave a comment

Medical Progress

I got my driving licence back on Thursday and yesterday I went to see my stroke doctor at Addenbrooke’s.

So how do I feel both physically and mentally.

Take yesterday.

I needed to get the Lotus Elan back from having the MOT from Newmarket and as everyone was busy and my secretary was not in, no-one could give me a lift.  So it was get out my trusty Brompton and cycle.  It should have been easy as although the trip was about sixteen kilometres, most of it is downhill.  Or at least it is if I go the shortest, but not the car-friendliest route.  But the Brompton slipped into fifth and couldn’t get anything lower than fourth.  And then there was the cold strong headwind.

But even so I made it easily in an hour.  I suspect I would be a lot quicker on my proper bicycle with the wind the other way.

On Wednesday the stroke doctor had told me that I had a leaky valve.  Now sometimes I think I can tell when it starts to leak.  Or am I imagining things.  I just push myself too hard and then I get a bit breathless, but if I get a rhythm going, I can pedal for over an hour.  Especially in Holland, where they have abolished hills by law.

It was nice to get back in the Lotus, which is now all pristine and clean.  I must take a few photos before it gets dirty!

Mentally perhaps I worry, but then who wouldn’t after what I’ve been through.

But as to brain function, it all seems to be working.  Word functions such as spelling are as good (or bad) as they ever was but I can only type with two fingers.  But then I never used more.  I do various memory functions when I collect my Zopa statistics, and these are just the same.

So far so good.

Except for one curious thing.  I do the Sudoku in The Times every day and have always found that the Super Fiendish were beyond my powers, unless I resulted to a process of elimination.  That in my book is almost cheating.

But since the stroke, I can do these without problems in just a few minutes.  I would never accuse such an august newspaper as The Times, of dumbing down, but they have just introduced a new section called Mind Games.

I should write to them.

My GP asked me how I was getting on mentally.  After all, to lose one of your close family is perhaps normal or bad luck, but to lose two is catastrophic and a downright disaster.  And then having a stroke doesn’t make you feel better.  Does it?  I don’t know, but I sometimes wonder that I now I think it can’t get any worse, so I just l0ook forward to the future.  She asked me to fill in a form about how I was feeling.  I scored very low.  But then that was good.

So what did the stroke doctor say?

He explained that the leaky valve wasn’t probably trivial and that he would refer me to the cardiology team.  But then I now feel that I’ve had it for years.  I don’t think that my stamina was any better in 1980, than it is now.  In fact sometimes I think it is better.  But I’ve always had this problem of being able to walk miles and not being able to run more than a couple of hundred metres.

He also said that the heart monitor had said I had an irregular heart-beat.

Because of these problems, he suggested that I go on Warfarin or rat poison.  This will then the blood and make it less likely that I have a repeat occurrence of a stroke.

On the positive side, he felt that the research from Amsterdam on B6, coeliacs and strokes was interesting.

So I feel a lot better this morning, as we have a whole set of reasons, all of which it should be possible to overcome.

As I like to say – The Struggle Continues!

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 13 Comments

Cambridge to Holland via Paris

I left Cambridge at 19:00 hours on Tuesday and took the Dover Dunkirk ferry, stopping overnight on the A1 to Paris. It was a crap Mercure and I’ll be posting something later on my blog about it and the non-Eclipse of 1999, where a Belgian weatherman told me to go to the wrong place. I don’t think they’ve given it a proper once-over since.

I then drove into the centre of Paris, did Montmatre, had a meeting and then left at 4:17, only to get stuck in traffic on the Periphique. I arrived at my destination five minutes over five hours later having done about 625 miles from Cambridge most of it at about 130 to 140 kph. How many 18 year old cars could do that? Most of it during the day was with the top down, which was perhaps a bit ambitious, but then top down is the only way to travel for safety, as the visibility is so much better.

The only problem was the peage, as to get the ticket, I had to get out. And I had a very irate Belgian behind me. They always seem to be in a hurry. And then around Lille and towards Gent, the Belgian road signs leave something to be desired. It’s called logic! Like the signs say follow Gent and then they call in Gand or even miss it off completely. They even manage to give Lille in France a completely different name!

Perhaps, I should write to that nice von Rumpy Pumpy, who heads the EU and complain about his country’s signage. On the other hand, perhaps the Belgians drive like lunatics all the time, as they are forever getting confused by their signs?

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Toy Oh Dear

Toyota has a few problems. Not only do accelerators stick on some models, but now the Prius has a brake problem.

These may be serious and they are probably hurting Toyota’s image and the company will suffer for years to come.

The problems are very different.  The accelerator is a mechanical design fault and the brake is a software one. But if you have the first, here is excellent advice from the BBC. I know you’ll be unlikely to be able to access this advice if you have a problem, but make sure that you read it.

The trouble is that we assume are cars are perfect, the roads are perfect, the weather is always fine and nothing untoward will ever happen as we drive along in our cars listening to the Beatles, smoking fags and eating sandwiches.  I don’t do the last two as I abhor smoking and can’t eat bread, unless I make the gluten-free variety myself, but I hope you get the point.

We must have more driver education to make the roads safer and dare I say it allow everybody to enjoy driving more.  It’s a great pleasure to drive a car fast and legally down a challenging and empty road.

I have two cars; a Lotus Elan and a Jaguar X-Type Estate. 

The Lotus is simple with no-ABS, no-traction control, no-air conditioning and very little electronics to go wrong. It incidentally has a full electronic control system on the lump that does the work under the bonnet.  The Jaguar has all these, but other than body styles, the two cars are both manual gearboxes, front-wheel drive, full leather etc.

Now when it comes to bad roads, the Elan is in a class of its own compared to the Jag.  The ABS and traction control cuts in on the latter and makes things more rather difficult rather than easier.

So is one of the problems of modern cars, that they have just got too complicated, too heavy and we isolate the driver too much from the road?

I know that on bad days, I take the Lotus and enjoy that drive.  Perhaps, if we all learned to enjoy driving, we’d do it better and have less accidents and breakdowns.

February 10, 2010 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Lotus/TVR Meet at Brands Hatch

I went to a meet between Lotus and TVR owners at Brands Hatch this morning. 

Here are the pictures.

It was a good morning.  I did skip the drive and lunch afterwards though.

It was the first time I’d been to Brands Hatch for many years.  I actually told the story of one visit to see the Guards Trophy in Brazilian Farce.  The circuit has changed a lot and where we parked today, was where we sat on the grass all those years ago.

January 31, 2010 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Lotus Elan Therapy

Since my wife died in 2007, I have needed solace and perhaps some therapy.  But I have developed my own.  It is called elanism.  This therapy is unique in that it treats both the body and mind in many different ways.  The various methods are described in alphabetical order.

Better Sleep

Getting out in your Elan and driving round the lanes is a relaxing business.  You will certainly sleep better that night with a smile on your face.

Cancer Risk Reduction

It is well known that good vitamin D levels may reduce cancer.  Read this on Cancer Research UK.  What you need is casual exposure to the sun and Lotus Elans make this very easy, as you can raise and lower the hood much faster than those modern cars with automatic electric hoods.  So you need to get out of the car, but then this exercise is good for you.

Drive every day for thirty minutes with the hood down and you might reduce your chance of getting cancer.

Colour Therapy

This is another complete load of bollocks.  Buy an Elan in yellow, red, blue or whatever takes your fancy.  It’ll give you more fun.  If you have a serious problem, buy two or even three!

Enhanced Self Esteem

Lotus Elans are in a very small group of cars, that can be taken anywhere and get total respect.  We parked our first Elan at Deauville Racehorse Sales next to a Ferrari Testarossa.  All the French kids were looking at the Lotus, as they thought the Ferrari was a complete show off and the property of a total tosser.  They were right.

Elans are also the only affordable car, with the possible exception of a mint Morris Minor, that you can turn up in at a three-star Michelin restaurant and will get you total respect.  Even if it is totally filthy.

Feel Younger

Ask someone who doesn’t know about cars how old your Elan is and they will say that it is perhaps five or six years old.  As you might have owned the car for a lot longer this means you feel younger if you do his maths rather than those you know are correct.

G-Force Massage

G-Force massage is a form of passive massage, that has many of the benefits of traditional massage but without the expence of using a practioner or therapist.  You just need to find a suitable road like the A68 or some of those in the Fens and drive the car fast round corners and up and down hills.  Note that the latter is difficult in the Fens, but they have lots of wonderful and dangerous corners. Note that you should avoid the Fens if you can’t swim.

G-Force massage has been shown to increase blood flow and adrenaline levels, which contribute to general well-being.  It may also reduce blood pressure, as mine was higher a few years ago and has now reduced to a respectable 120/70.

Improved Eye Sight

Driving an Elan fast means that you have to look out for the Fuzz! So your eye-sight has to get better!

Improved Sex Life

It is a well-known fact that people and it’s not just women, are turned on by being driven fast in an open-top car.  This effect is also enhanced in Lotus Elans, where the superb aerodynamic design means that you don’t get your hair in a mess.  This advantage is not of course enjoyed by the follically challenged.

Lotus Elans have one problem though.  Sex is almost impossible in an Elan.  On the other hand, the rear spoiler is an ideal hand-hold for position 36.

Increased Muscular Coordination

As we get older, you tend to lose muscular coordination.  Lotus Elans are the ideal vehicle for keeping your motor skills up to date.

Make People Smile

Drive past someone in the street in an Elan and you get looked at.  People smile.  It is our duty to make as many other people happy every day as we can.  It’s easy in an Elan.

New Friends

Elans tend to congregate in friendly groups.  So you make new friends, which helps the lonely.  There is a slight problem with this in that you can sometimes suffer from elanborism.  But hopefully others into elanism will help you guard against this.

Reduce Environmental Guilt

Many people these days suffer from environmental guilt,  brought about by feelings that you are not doing enough to save the planet.  Lotus Elans reduce this feeling, as they last forever, give very good fuel economy for their performance and over their lifetime probably create less carbon dioxide than a modern car.

Conclusion

This is just a start and if you have any other benefits of elanism, please post.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments