hirez: (Challenger)
In this month's Hotrod Garage Tony Angelo, the presenter, seems to hit his stride with an instruction on how to get a car that's been standing for nearly two decades running again.

The surfpunk incidental music is also very fine.

Meanwhile, Roadkill gets both silly and meta at the same time. A modern drivetrain in an iconic shed of a car, plus bonus wholesale deconstruction of the entire 'reality' car-telly genre. It's like they'd been watching Charlie Brooker or something.

In re. the Corbyn/media gubbins, I can hear Adam Curtis in my head: '... and just when the media conglomerates believed they were in control, everything changed. A previously overlooked backbench MP was elected leader of the Labour party, which they had not allowed for.'
hirez: Humppa! (Humppa!)
Boo. For a stupid set of reasons (While I like pottering in the garden-thing, I don't much care for the feeling of being observed doing same. Since we live in a terrace, this feeling is near permanent and yes I know at some level that no-one gives a bugger, but when I'm somewhat tired I don't want to be able to feel another mind within a half-mile radius and would you all please just fuck off) I've left the bag of courgette plants just long enough for the flower/bud things to have been consumed by bloody slugs.

Yay. On the other hand, the rescued strawberry plants that time forgot have been shooting runners hither and yon, so I have been placing strategic pots under where the runners bend and having a bit of a propagate. I estimate that by this time next year, the entirety of the garden will be waist-deep in strawberry bushes from before television.

I think I'm beginning to process EMFcamp. It's mostly a week later and I still want to build Mr. Swearybot, keep some sort of a tech blog (http://ops.failcake.net/) and get the work c0dez out there on the github.

Mr. Swearybot? A tinplate robot that's had its clockwork brain replaced by some motors and an Arduino. It beetles up to you, goes 'Twat!', 'You useless tosser!' or 'Hopeless fucking shower!' and then steams off in search of other people to insult. A simple matter of robotics I'm sure you'll agree.
hirez: (Challenger)


I mean, there are probably people out there who look at me like I'm some demi-god because I may (or may not) have piloted a SIIa Landie while the balance of my mind was disturbed (Three gear levers, no synchromesh on 1st & 2nd. Oh. And a Fairey OD. Four levers, and it was generally considered a Bad Idea to shift into OD in 1st and 2nd) because they're used to old-skool slushboxes or modern semi-autos.

Yer man in that there Kenworth? Respect due, as they used to write in the NME when it was relevant and interesting. (October 1982)

There's probably an amount of semi-overt gatekeeping in that post. See also complexity/convenience and the place of useful tools in a modern and inclusive society.
hirez: (Happy cycling)
For reasons of Elves and the safety thereof, Bath council have closed the majority of the river path. It transpires that the one bridge across that section that isn't completely ugly had been carefully ignored until it rotted enough to need proper money spending. At which point panic and hi-vis jackets everywhere. I assume it's been covered in Private Eye at length, because it's the sort of idiocy they'd adore.

Speaking of idiocy, if you're pottering home on a mixte that looks like it came from the bike reclamation project opposite what was the laser-tag building next to what was the bus station, it is perhaps a jolly good idea to buy a set of frigging lights. It would also be a good idea not to wear your anorak hood up such that you can't see behind you. That way, when you sort of wobble left a bit, then wave your hand like you were shaking a set of bangles down your forearm and swerve right at the same time, you will be less surprised to discover that there's a cyclist following you. Me? Not surprised at all.

Speaking of empty buildings, Bath is filled with the things. I should probably wander about and take pictures of them. It's a bit shit really.

Because the river path is closed, I have to take my life in my hands and belt in on the A4. It's pretty crap. I have become used to cycling at a reasonable sort of pace (12-15 miles/hour, when there are batteries in my Aldi value bike-computer) and being able to look at things while getting a good dose of fresh air. On the main road, I have to peg it along at what feels like double that rate while avoiding all the manhole access covers in the world and keeping an eye out for cement trucks, homicidal Transit drivers, homicidal female noddy-car pilots and Firstbus drivers looking for a new and interesting bonnet ornament. On the other hand, I suspect that going that hard is doing me more good than less effort over a longer time. On the other other hand, I think I prefer having the choice of meander or big ring.
hirez: (Challenger)
227mph in a Skoda. Fine stuff.

(There are something like seven parts of a couple of minutes each, which is a bit tiresome.)

It is also refreshing to see random rugby-shirted English chaps (you know the type.) not being entirely useless around cars. Being a bit useless in the Topgear style does not make you non-threatening and Labrador-like to the people who're not your demographic - it makes you a bit useless and a bit more of a tosser.
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: (Lard)
... Don't point it anything far away, then. You'll wear 'em out faster.

You should either do a doctorate or a startup. All-nighters on no money are character-forming.[1]

I stumbled across Phil Bond's Flickr-thing. There were old Wired World strips. Now I feel all wistful and smiley. I wish I'd known people like that at the time.

Timulo, too.

Actually, I think I did. :)

Ceremony are really rather good. It's an utter bugger searching for any of their stuff though. In the old days, it was important that your band's logo/name could be inscribed on the school issue haversack (gas mask/respirator). These days it's best if it's a Googlewhack.

Has anyone done a steampunk PLCE corset yet? Such a thing wants a story writing around it anyway.

Justina Robson is really very good indeed.

[1] Which could be viewed as educationally privileged on my part. Since my sole technical qualifications are a City & Guilds (224 Electronic Servicing. If you want yer cat welded... Ask someone else.) and an ONC Electronics, that view would be incorrect.
hirez: (Challenger)
I'm even less sure than usual that I know what day it is, so much of the following is probably just me making stuff up.

I can be reasonably sure however, that Chevrolet won't be getting any of my money for the rest of my natural. With sitcom timing, the horrible lardmobile expired properly when called upon to transport us back to the airport. I said some jolly rude words, called the help-desk and firmly suggested that Alamo might like to pay for a taxi. Things got worse after that. In the future, if I'm given the choice between an Alamo car and walking, you may rest assured that Shanks' Pony will win.

Or perhaps one of these. I'll leave it to [livejournal.com profile] mr_tom to perform the 'Dude. Dope frames.' joke.

See, the thing is that I like to potter through life in a cheery bubble of Dawkinsian altrusim and naivete[1]. People are basically good and only the sort of tiresome right-wing fuckheads who still believe that game theory maps well onto the human experience should be avoided. Thus I've never bothered with traveller's cheques, money belts and getting several quotes from taxi firms before setting out on an important journey.

(Well, ok. There was this one time where I was to be found at silly-AM, haggling very loudly with Nigerian cab drivers. However, I was somewhat drunk and wearing a miniskirt[2])

Anyway. Shitbag cabs of (I dunno. Lake-something?) are big on all that game theory rubbish and can't drive. The Iranian rally-champions that drive for Eurocars in London are much better value and probably much more use should the balloon go up. Better English, too.

It only struck me after I'd taken the 9k for a bit of a thrash just how crap that Moskvitch was. For instance, should I want to go around a corner in the Saab, I point the steering wheel in the relevant direction and the vehicle goes where I want. Should I be going too quickly, the understeer is progressive and there's none of that feeling you get in a wanker-sportscar that unless you prove your manliness by getting your cock out and jamming it in the lighter socket, the sodding car's going to exit the corner arse-first and upside down.

The Moskvitch, by contrast, cornered like you'd a load of cannonballs rattling around in the boot: move the wheel, wait for an indeterminate amount of time, then the car would make a sickening lurch sideways as the alleged suspension reacted to whatever it thought was going on. The linkage between the loud pedal and the (Bloody GM Ecotec, according to wikkidywikkidywack. I hope that's not the same six-pot that's in the bigger 9Ks. That would be shit.) engine-bit was similarly tenuous. I mean, I've driven rubber cars before, and I've driven actually dangerous MOT-failures, but that was easily the least rewarding driving experience I've encountered thus far.


Southern Wisconsin is quite startlingly picturesque when the sun's out. What I'd wanted from this particular trip was a quantity of two-lane blacktop, strange motel archictecture and enough cultural disconnects to make me lie awake at night and wonder how much of anything was real.

Job done, by and large. Met some lovely people, too. It's just...

... Maybe it's because I'm older and/or more self-aware than the last time I did anything like this, but there were one too many times when I wanted to stand up (or stop the car), walk out of shot and berate the scriptwriter for the terrible cliche I was having to deal with. Bleach-blonde single parent waitress, both types of music, you guys are from ing-er-lund, notch in the horizon where the road went, Fox 'news', cheese, Denny's, Applebee's... I know that stereotypes exist for a reason, but...

... On the other hand, our plumbing is much better than yours.

Final jet-lag scores:

Wednesday: Fine.
Thursday: Fine.
Friday: Bugger. Awake at 4AM.
Saturday: Bugger. Akip 'til 1PM.
Sunday: Thrice bugger. Pass out at 6AM.

[1] I seem to have an utter blind-spot regarding the spelling. It still looks wrong.
[2] I think. I was drunk.
hirez: (Challenger)
Dear ChryslerChevrolet

Piss off out of my nice country and go bankrupt as soon as you can manage, there's loves.

Your latest alleged advert lives somewhere beyond hateful. No-one wants SUVs. Not even the emotionally stunted bullies and apprentice sociopaths that's it's clearly pointed towards.

Or do I mean GM? I can't tell recent attempts at vehicles apart these days. God knows what I'm going to do when all the proper Saabs wear out.

Edit: So it turns out I do mean GM after all. Aptiva? Captiva? One of those.

Good job, really. I won't have to swap out the Challenger usericon for a Camaro.
hirez: (Cooper-Clarke)
One or other of the Existentialists will likely have said something pithy about bicycle fettling, so assume I've cribbed the thing and put it here.
(Or make something up, find out for yourselves or just cut&paste from Hatchjaw's treatise on de Selby.)

Which is to say that I've scraped a disturbing amount of glass and thorns from the front tyre, patched the tube and pumped the bugger back up to rock-hard. We shall see what sort of state it's in tomorrow morning.

Elsewhere: SLF and Mark Stewart & the Maffia! YMO! Seated venue! Tickets wil go in seconds! While we're in Whitby! Arse!
hirez: (Challenger)
Top tip: On your ride home, do not try to keep up with the cyclo-cross enthusiast on the Ti road bike when it is your first day back in the saddle after a month of lung-bugs and you are riding the hybrid with the panniers and the BFO U-lock.

Still, all good fun and gosh but doesn't the world smell nice? Damp earth, wild garlic, diesel, creosote, organophosphates, rusty steel... Hurrah for Sustrans and the Bristol-Bath cycle path.

Anyway. A random sort of conversation with mater (as if there were any other sort) brought to mind road accidents. When I was tiny, we used to live about equidistant from Winchcombe and Andoversford. Andoversford had a cattle market, a couple of pubs and Victory Mechanics, who were the local (Ford/New Holland) agricultural engineers. As a result, we'd go there fairly regularly.

You'll note from the Google link above that the section of A40 there is a dual carriageway. That's relatively recent. This is a pre-Beeching picture of the place.

Anyway, when the post-Beeching bypass was instantiated, there were no traffic lights on the A40/A436 junction, or indeed a haven for cars turning right off the A40 in either direction.

There were A Lot of messy road-accidents. Since this was before proper seatbelts, safety cells, decent brakes and paramedics, I suspect all the fire brigade could do would be collect the body parts, hose the blood off the road and then tow the twisted wreckage to the forecourt to Tubb's Garage. (bottom left in the second picture) Which as a small child I would goggle at from the Land-Rover, Renault 16 or Ford Corsair window. I don't remember what I thought about them. More than likely I would try to identify what the mangled heaps of tinwork had been. Were I more of a lying bastard than I already am, I'd claim some Ballardian coincidence and make out that I was trying to work out the relative trajectories of the vehicles involved. However I was five or six, indeed probably even younger.

I don't know where I'm going with this. [livejournal.com profile] ladymoonray jogged something related in the back of my head the other week, and I'm not even sure I'd thought about that other thing properly before then.

Strange business, life.
hirez: (Challenger)
Well, obv.

The parents turned up for early Christmas malarkey, so I gave them a case of wine and we laid waste to the garden. Or rather, there was ten minutes of violent pruning (The bushes scream, etc), followed by some mug sawing up the huge pile of ex-bush into sections that would fit efficiently into the council-provided garden refuse sacks.

I ran out of light and grip in my fingers at about the same time, and there's still half a pile out there, lurking.

There's also the front to do, and then attacking the ivy that's now visible behind where the flowering redcurrant was.

(I'm turning into a stereotype Guardian-pilot)
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)
No. Just no, ok?

I'll concede that a throat full of nastiness might not be an ideal accompaniment to cycling into work on a freezing morning, so took the car instead. However, that's the limit. I have stuff to do this weekend, and since I don't wish to mither about spreading germs over strangers you can either piss off or you can piss off.

Boomshanka, JH-R.
hirez: (Riiight)
In which I go on at some length )
hirez: (Challenger)
I've just been watching a splendid film in which Ian Curtis rebuilds a bull-nose Morris, aided by a beatnik child. Meanwhile Zefram Cochran, disguised as a rag and bone man, attempts to steal some of the parts in an odd kind of cross-dimensional scrap redistribution plan. At the climax of the piece, Ian drives the newly restored Morris to the local garage, where, in a triumph of sensible tweed sports-jacket over badly-piloted Austin Healey, he cops off with the young woman driving the office typewriter.

Obviously, had the film been made twenty years later, the Morris would have ended up lowered and fitted with a blown small-block at one end and a Jag IRS at the other.

Mind, 1964 looks like a reasonable sort of place to holiday.
hirez: (Default)
(Via the Viable Paradise mail-list)


'Garden cities of to-morrow.' Featuring children's cottage homes the far side of the allotments, a farm for epileptics, more allotments and industrial schools for industrial people the wrong side of the railway tracks.

A lovely idea, and no more mad than Le Corbusier's Radiant City that I was looking at this time last week.

They had a crack at the idea with places like Letchworth and Welwyn, and I think on a smaller scale with Hampstead Garden Suburb. It still seems to me that they don't quite work as places (I shall start waving 'The geography of nowhere' and demanding an updated edition), if only because they've become dormitories for London where all the good gigs and strange shops are to be found.

(Oh and: http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/11/11.001j/f01/lectureimages/6/image14.html is certainly not July '01. I'd guess an October afternoon in 1973, myself.)
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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