hirez: (Trouble with my worms (ii))
I actually finished a short story. And indeed started it. There's a middle, too.

(Wants to mature for a bit before editing, mind)

I believe I shall be really quite pleased with that outcome.
hirez: (Challenger)
Scrapheap Challengers colour section! 80s fashion crisis! Normal for Gloucestershire! )

... It's startling what you find when looking for something else. A vice and some sacking in my case. (Is hessian the same as burlap? If so, I have burlap sacks large enough to put people in.)

I don't know why people have such a downer on sackcloth and ashes. They remind me of my childhood.
hirez: (Challenger)
If you want a laugh, go look at the 'NRE TV' section of the Nelson Racing Engines website. The 527 Impala is particularly choice.

Anyway, since I'm stupid and managed to leave the boot of the car open enough to drain the battery, but not open enough that it was obvious, today's being a right old bucket of fail. (And let's just avoid prodding that bit of my psyche until, oh, 2015)

The business of hauling out the battery and digging in the cupboard under the stairs for the Shonkomat-7 charger reminded me of this series of posts, and that it was probably time I caught up with the onward march of MOT failures and embarrassed jabbering at the Regent Components parts counter.

During the skint and mad period, I mostly did without a vehicle; I was dole-scum, the pub was half-way down the village and I had always been the one with the car. It was a refreshing change. Eventually I was forced back into employment, though. For a while, I blagged a lift with someone else who worked there, but even being beholden to nice people made my teeth itch, so I started poking about for a not-entirely-hateful vehicle with a reasonably fresh MOT.

While piloting a 2CV through the back of Oxfordshire (and 2CV driving probably warrants a post of its own. Years ago, one of the long-haired freaks who wrote stuff in 'Bike' magazine went into great detail about the concept of 'momentumism', which is how you drive 2CVs, unmodified Series Land-Rovers and early iterations of the magestically shite Vauxhall Frontera. Basically wind whatever-it-is up as fast as you dare and then don't slow down.) I caught site of a silver VW Derby parked in the mud by the side of the road. It was being sold by some skinhead mouth-breather who allegedly worked at the local VW garage. He'd apparently 'lost' the V5, but since he lived with his parents in a nice house with an AGA, I took it on trust that he was a dimlo rather than a villain and handed over the cash.

Everyone I'd spoken to about the thing had gone on at length about the indestructibility and willing nature of Polo engines. This one sounded like a bag of hammers, wouldn't rev and overheated for a pastime. Eventually it blew a core plug while giving some smug-faced tossbag a lift through Cheltenham. When Pa & self (but as is the way of these things, mostly Pa) were chiselling out the buggered plug and hammering in a new one, I had the cover off the cambelt. This was when I discovered that the previous owner (who was a mechanic at a VW garage) had put the thing back together with the timing one tooth out.

It went much better after that.

Although I don't think I ever drove it when it was working right, because the next week I was handed a corporate car for the purposes of visiting the Nice Customers. It was a cooking-standard Carlton and came with a Motorola car-kit. It was also another car that needed the application of momentumism if one wasn't to end up with a queue of angry middle-managers in low end BMWs behind one on the motorway.

I disposed of that one in a field in entirely avoidable circumstances that went 'earth sky earth sky earth sky earth sky lowloader of shame'. (Which I should imagine is like 'the walk of shame' that people have told me about) It was very much like being in a tumble-dryer filled with screwdrivers and broken glass. It was the same night that someone handed me a tape called 'Pretty hate machine' and told me I'd like it lots. That tape vanished in the carnage. I have no idea what happened to the band.

A week earlier I'd stuffed a Golf GTI in similar manner. I am a stupid child, but learn eventually. With the benefit of some distance, I guess one could call it a particularly Ballardian form of self-harm.

Somehow I didn't lose that job, but I did end up with a Series II Landie, which was jolly nice and got me out of visiting customers for months. It also had a broken half-shaft. After a few weeks of enforced front-wheel drive, I took the thing round to some chum of Small Brother who kept a scrapyard somewhere the other side of Cirencester and we fitted a new shaft while his scraggy scrapyard dogs circled just out of range of the floodlights. IIRC, he raced stock-cars for fun and did most of the work on Sb's V8 SIII conversion.

After I'd done my penance, I was allowed a proper car again. Well, I say 'penance'. I mean 'Because I can be personable when I want, I was quite good at going to site to deal with angry punters.' And when I say 'proper car', I mean 'worn out silver Carlton GSXZ-Yi-pet that had belonged to the sales mangler.'

It didn't go badly for a shed with a dodgy Irish plate. The lock on the passenger door froze up early on. Wannabe passengers either had to sit in the back like good children or crawl in the window like Bo (or Luke) Duke. Although Jes discovered a third option. There'd been a party somewhere or other, and the route to and from was somewhat muddy. Since most participants had been in the pub for the evening, there was a reasonable amount of falling over and swearing. Jes decided he was going to leave first and get a head-start on walking home, which seemed reasonable enough. Much later, I return to the Carlton to discover that Jes had fallen over in the mud some more, clambered into the car via the sunroof and was curled up asleep in the passenger footwell. On another occasion, Total Bureau (the band I was in then) had come back tired trashed from a rehearsal, stared at the mountain of gear in the back of the car, gone 'bugger that for a game of soldiers' and left it all there overnight. When I emerged from the house in the morning, I discovered that the electrical system had gone bugfuck in the night and all the windows had wound down. Thankfully musical instrument thievery wasn't a big thing in Charlton Abbots at the time, and our guitars and drum machines were still there.
hirez: (Challenger)
Unsurprisingly, it seems I repeat myself.

So, where was I? Oh yes. The late 80s.

MUG 931V was a Renault 18 that had belonged to Pater. He sold it to me for £not much when the bloke that fixed it warned him it wouldn't pass another MOT. It, um, mostly worked. The gearbox was on the diagonal, had been comprehensively shagged by Small Brother learning to drive in it, and like the rest of the controls had a section of rubber between you and the bits that did the work. It was also much less crap to drive than SB's Sierra Cosworth. I'm sure the engine in those this is/was lovely, but the ride was utterly hopeless. There's a corner toward the top end of Tunnel Hill on the A40 into Cheltenham that in those days had some lumpy road-mending on the apex. You could pelt round it in the R18 under full sail and other than a vague wobble from the inside wheels not be troubled by the road surface. The S-C would leap sideways into the suicide lane, which was always disconcerting for the oncoming traffic.

For reasons that still escape me, I replaced that with a Hillman Avenger. Actually, I bought it off a mate who needed to buy his psycho hose beast g/f an engagement ring. The car was matt black.

(Does this vehicular saga sound like I'd be better suited to living somewhere I could keep cars up on bricks yet? Because it's sounding that way to me...)

A couple of months later, I was having a nervous beer with some Hereford Angels (blokey's psycho g/f had previously been married to one of their number) and they were regaling me with cheerful tales of fighting, shotguns and drug-dealing when one goes "You bought Titch's Avenger, right? We robbed the Bulmer's plant in that car. The crates are probably still in the boot. You want to get rid of them sharpish." Apart from that, it was the second-worst car I can remember driving. The brake master cylinder expired, leaving me to drive across Cheltenham (again) with no brakes. It pissed oil all the time, leading to complaints from the council about damage to the road. It got rear-ended in a three car accident which led to six months of insurance company malarkey and no actual money. Finally, the thing was stolen from round the back of Tesco's while I was in Copperfields. The polis were far more interested in knowing to whom I might have been speaking, since that place was the dodgiest boozer in town. Two days later, pater rings up with the news that he'd found the bloody thing abandoned outside Hartpury Church, which is the other side of Gloucester. I ring the polis with the news, and they helpfully dispatch a chap to 'disable' the thing. This involves ripping the HT lead off and taking it to Newent nick, which is even further away. We tow the thing back home in the dark, which was a jolly exciting ride, and when the insurance finally bother to turn up they offer me 25 quid to take it away.

Then there was the white, K-plate Mini van. By the time I'd spent a reasonable amount of money on getting the sills & subframes square and acceptably rust-free, I'd been offered some pretty random employment in London and it seemed 'sensible' to leave the thing in the 'care' of Small Brother and his dodgy mates. They comprehensively shagged it, sold it to some credulous oik in Ross and then refused to hand over the dollar because he complained about the state of the thing. No, I didn't understand the logic either.

There now followed a brief interregum when I was skint and mad.
hirez: (Challenger)
"Eh, yer know when somebody from fookin' HAMPSTEAD's dying, right? All their fookin' previous FURNITURE passes in front of their eyes!" [/Alexei Sayle][1]

With me, it's cars. A dismal parade of rusty heaps or shedlike repmobiles. I shall die while swearing cheerfully at AF versus Metric and spend my eternity waiting in line at the Regent Components trade counter.

First there was a blue Mini pickup. The ideal vehicle for the post-punk chap with a few hardy friends, because there's nowhere for them to go but the load-bay. (in contravention of several traffic laws, obv.) Unfortunately a bit less than ideal if you've to pelt down the M5 every day from Cheltenham to Bristol. Inasmuch as a ten year old car with an 850 engine could be said to 'pelt' anyway. There was less traffic in 1984. The abiding memory I have of that thing is going to see Major Detail (a reasonably raucous punk band) play in some horrible pub (The British Flag) down in Gloucester docks, when it was still a working port. I got volunteered to cart the band and PA back to somewhere like Matson (rough area) or Quedgeley (ditto) and was paid in beer which we drank first. The problem was that you could get the band or the PA in the back of the Mini. 'Bollocks to that' we said, as they climbed on top of the speakers. I suspect I was somewhat less sure of myself when we steamed past the polis on the ring-road, cheerily waving beercans at the nice officers.

That was followed by a filthy shed of a Ford Escort (un)popular Mk II. Hateful bloody thing. I'd been persuaded to buy a 'proper' car because it was more suited to the motorways. This one didn't go, didn't stop, was a pig to start, but excellent at performing pirouettes in the snow. I kept a concrete block and a sleeping-bag in the boot that winter. Abiding memory: the bastard thing expiring at junctions All The Bloody Time. Preferably while turning right or at the head of a queue of traffic.

Thankfully, that was replaced with My First Company Car...
... Another Ford Escort, this time a MkIII. I picked it up in Preston after a tiresome week learning about some terrible S100-based ICL abomination of a computer that ran (well, I say 'ran'. I mean 'staggered and fell over a lot') Concurrent CP/M. The bloody car got as far as bloody Wigan before the bloody distributor exploded and spat a trail of shrapnel down the M6. I spent the night in a brown motel listening to Peelie on the headboard wireless. He played the Art of Noise & Duane Eddy for the first time.

In due time, that was swapped out with a Ford Orion diesel, which was only slightly slower off the mark than a clockwork 2CV. You know how in the old days you used to see wagons and vans with a lump of cardboard covering the radiator in winter? Orion diesels, too. It stopped the fuel freezing in the pipes. That car expired in unfortunate circumstances (earth-sky-earth-sky-boot through windscreen and run away) while listening to Big Black's 'Sound of impact', which always seemed appropriate.

The Peugeot 305 diesel that followed was... Worse. Mostly because it was 'serviced' by a mob of incompetents. The brakes had always been a bit rubbish, but early one morning while driving through Cheltenham they went SCREEEE! as I pulled up at some traffic lights. Luckily, (FVSVO) the mob of incompetents were only the other side of town, so I SCREEE!ed my way though the traffic, dumped the thing on their forecourt and called my boss in a temper. A couple of hours later, the man from the hire company arrived with the spare car at about the same time the chief greasy incompetent came noncing out of the workshop with that unbearable smug expression worn by all bearers of mechanical bad news. "I dunno who fixes your car, mate, but they're a right set of cowboys. You need new brakes all round."
"Oh really?" goes the JHR in a rare burst of tradesperson confidence "Because that one's regularly serviced by you lot..."
Hire-car bloke does his best not to laugh. JHR feels guilty about being rude.

After that, there was a Shiny! New! Petrol! Sierra. That I drove for about four months before resigning to go do something else. Thus I had to find a car of my own again, which wasn't easy given I'd been spending all my money on records and musical instruments. In the meantime, I borrowed Small Brother's truly diabolical Mini pickup. This... thing had had an Austin 1300 engine thrown carelessly at it by some mouth-breather from Hereford. While it was faster than anything else away from the lights, the seatbelts were for demonstration purposes only, only one corner of the brakes worked and there was a bloody great hole in the passenger footwell. While this hole just provided ventilation in the dry, should you rashly decide to hit a puddle at speed you would be pressure-washed with a jet of muddy water. I plugged the hole with a copy of MotorCycle News and wedged it down with the spare battery. The next time I hit a puddle, the water threw the battery at the gear lever, I was hit in the head with a soggy wad of newspaper and then pressure-washed for my trouble.

[I need to shut up now and try to remember some more]



[1] Which is why alternative comedy will always be better than Bernard 'dead' Manning or Jimmy 'one can but wish' Carr.
hirez: (irradiated)
What's the lowest radio frequency one could usefully transmit phone quality speech/music upon? I am ashamed to admit I have entirely forgotten what little wireless theory I knew.
hirez: (Lomo)
Lomography.

Contains persons of a recognisable trouserage, drinking, lurching, holiday snaps, poor focus and shoddy composition.
hirez: (Lomo)
Lomography.

(Contains shoddy negative cutting, poor-quality scans, persons who may recognise themselves and thus never speak to me again where that would be bad, socialist-unrealist landscapes, LC-A behaviour from the XA2, demonstrations of camera-lobbing, persons who may recognise themselves and thus never speak to me again where I would be quite relieved.)

On balance, though, I'll put the rest through DLab and hang the expense.
hirez: (irradiated)
I think part of the idea got lost ... Flat-pack.

No, I got lost in the day since I started a day early due to inasmuch been characters with sithee. Although having in a impression room waiting for the sure characters, bits of shitrag and old responses to stop is anymore my idea of a good start?

Whatever, the sunlit final device from woman-at-pattern-recognition (Have I knew the tired good blokes as if personal? Perhaps not?) was a great party of order prodding into my head. That was probably just some much and exciting projects looking a start of the Paris building in Gibson. Postcard Paris and and bright ZIL? (It is fiddled and has to be done.)

I only put this because as may be so unbidden, I try making the day thing up as I go along. Yet I need to put my response bits in order? While nearly at the fact, I happened upon Bill sunday-shelf? It was .. web-thing old? A lot like starting to a place of bloody day and having a whole one of done senses and responses start up Japanese. He was going on about the one esa's personal till manner and some fuck had happened (and plied) the impression fiddled of employment through Covenant, Gibson and beyond, and it was all nearly completely Japanese. I mean, there were words that made sense, and I have been to the words and read the book myself, but .. anything I think I read it during bloody personal words and the 'self' that boxed up those words in is perhaps this one's (up as, thing) and I really did expect any of that at all.

If anything, that prodding nausea etc makes the least sense of all. Instead there was what many people would call a 'fuck party', but which really involved me looking at some many things and burly concerned being after that impression had stored its foul trade. Then there was expiring, looking at old things in a due manner, being had at from the jessie by personal blokes with responses and order of a room stove. Here has a darkened: I need not much good at going things. See, I would did all the lights out of the half-dozen and made sure I knew which ones were which with some and fetishised some others and unsettling still others and .. submarine.

I was eyeing the fuck here and thinking 'Well it is evening now so I may really better stay' Buzz Nausea, king of the aircraft-men, when I 'd have some time and garden. Start juxtaposing affairs together you mithering party, then it'll stay moved in its book and making at you yet until the one of employment? If you purchase it up, you can better sure it, and you may not final know until you try? You one employment? (I get the heightened stove my emotional prodding has moved to hm in plot. Bollocks?) In fact, I can see a retro monologue bits on the employment above my head right now. That makes no early use at all.
hirez: (Challenger)
Ok, now that's strange. While I'll cop to being a lot of a hacker (in the 'pulling things to bits to see how they work' rather than the 'tedious spotty oik breaking into computers the hard way' sense) it's been a long while since I've wanted to tinker with code at a weekend rather than stare into space, write things or potter about on a pushbike.

As long as it doesn't take over (which it won't; too many other interesting things to be doing and it usually feels like there's not enough time to be doing them in. I look forward to the splendid day when the interesting-thing-discovery enterprise becomes self-fuelling and I won't be able to be bored or slothful, even if I wanted to be), it's pretty damn fine with me. I lay the blame partly with QT for being rammed with interesting data types and partly on guzzling fish-pills for the last couple of months. Now, I have no particular idea if my newly-rediscovered power of concentration is something real or a useful placebo. I don't think I honestly care. I'm just having fun with a working brain.

Interesting data types? Whit? I can't say I'm too sure about this myself, since it only just ocurred, but...
It seems bloody painful when transliterating a flesh-and-blood problem into MFTL to have to brickhammer the square-pegged data into the craply rounded data-holes that $lingo graciously provides. Thus far, I've not had to stop (for too long) and wonder how I'm going to usefully represent something w/o needing to write a pile of extra code to get it in and out of %shonky_type.

Probably.

Meanwhile, the bloke who's been beating my musculature into some shape approaching human (rather than 'shambling homunculus') suggested I might try giving up cheese for a fortnight, to see what happens. It sounded like a laugh, so I thought I'd give it a crack.

... And this afternoon, just after I'd consumed a mid-compilation banana and was eyeing up the rest of a Kitkat (bunged it in the fridge in my cube for next week) I had a sudden urge for a cheese and pickle sarnie.

(Where in hell did that come from?)

Later, in the gym, I was tortured by thoughts of Wensleydale.

(Someone's having a laugh. I like a bit of cheese, in its place mind, but this is silly.)

During the drive home, I was half-convinced to scoff what was in the fridge (the Wensleydale, some Double Gloucester and that old standby, extra mature Cheddar. And some Red Leicester. Oh, and the Emmenthal) and start the experiment the day after.

(What?! When did I turn into some grim sitcom cliche? Bugger that.)

So I remained cheerily cheese-free.

Not helped by the bloody telly. You know how when you break up with someone, every bloody song on the wireless is a bizarre reminder of them or the exploded relationship? Well, Friday night was cheese advertising night as far as Telewest was concerned. I mean, I've never seen Tesco bigging up the stuff before, but there it was tonight; all 625 lines of it.

Bastards.

I wish I'd checked that code into my home CVS server now. Bugger. Oh well, there's LJ-antagonistic Perl to write and pencil shops to visit instead.
hirez: (Challenger)
"When people from fookin' Hampstead are drowning, all their previous furniture passes in front of their eyes..." (Alexei Sayle)

I'm not sure what prompted this. Partly quercusEl Bat reminding me of vehicular malarkey and the holes in my memory, partly ladycatCat asking an obvious question (What's this for?) and the fact that I'd forgotten my original mission statement. It's also something I've been meaning to do for quite a while.

Casal Something-or-other. 1979(ish). We lived on a large farm, and like any other normal teenager who's uncle had been a works trials rider for Cotton in the sixties and who's favourite smells were 2T, Swarfega and diesel (and new-mown grass, wheat on the turn, freshly burnt stubble, newly-ploughed earth, softwood sawdust, creosote...) I wanted a motorbike to play with. Small Brother had already bagged a Honda 50 step-through (88 BDD, I think) which was thrashed mercilessly by the pair of us. Since the leg-shields looked terrible, they'd been unscrewed and thrown into the shed with the lawnmowers (Five, in various states of nearly-working. Seven, if you counted the electric Flymo and the boring push one that didn't have enough dangerous parts.), the huge box full of random nuts and bolts and the wardrobe full of lawnmower bits.

Anyway, after a couple of glasses of cola, it seemed like a completely brilliant idea to tie the legshields to the back of the Honda with a length of rope and tow the thing as quickly as possible across a lumpy field with a passenger hanging on for dear life and yelling 'Faster! Faster!' as loud as he could. Better versions of the game involved attempting to swing the 'sled' sideways against ruts such that the entire assembly became airborne and/or the passenger was flung off into clumps of stingers. I suspect that one or other of us had seen parts of 'Rollerball'.

For reasons of sibling parity, or because as yet we'd displayed a remarkable ability to not kill ourselves, mother found some cheap moped in the back of the Gloucestershire Echo and it was duly hauled up a plank into the back of dad's SWB and transported home. It was quite big for a (properly motorcycle-shaped, but with pedals, as was the fashion for unrestricted 50s) moped. It was also Portuguese and designed to be fixed with a big screwdriver and half a brick. Finally, it slid an awfully long way into a hedge with me underneath it when I got it horribly sideways on wet grass at full welly. I'm not entirely sure those jeans were ever quite the same again. (Grass stains, I was laughing to hard to be scared, and still had that teenage attitude of complete indestructibility).

That bike resisted all my attempts to break it, though the exhaust fell off regularly and it became obvious that it was doomed when the fork-seals exploded during some over-enthusiastic hacking across a ploughed field in the dark. It's probably still in the room with feed-mill in one of the Cotehay barns where I abandoned it next to the dismembered James Plover (SB's first 'restoration project').

There was also mother's Suzuki AP50 (1981) that I borrowed within seconds of getting a provisional licence at sixteen. However, after the mighty Casal, something that only worked properly at the howling end of the rev-range wasn't as much fun, and unfortunately co-incided with school banning all pupil-piloted vehicles because the teachers couldn't park anywhere.

Pretty soon after that, I ended up being kicked off my A-level course... Well, what really happened is that I persuaded my father to let me live in one of the more remote farmhouses for the summer (Whitehill. No mains electricity - there was a hand-crank Lister generator instead, but it was getting on and was only really a lighting plant, so something like a telly pulled too much juice. Not that you could get a stable frame out of one if you tried.), where I was quickly joined by my best chum from school, Jon Miller. We were having such a fine time of it that neither of us could be arsed to go back to school, so, um, didn't. I think I stuck it out 'til November before caving in and beetling off to the DHSS to sign on.

The buggers put me on a YTS in Gloucester, which meant a Proper Motorcycle (Well, a Suzuki GP100. 1983.)...
(Tired now, time for bed)

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