DAYS OUT: Stradsett Park Vintage Rally, Pt. II

WordPress kept crapping out on me! So I deleted and reinstalled it… twice! I also decided to split the Stradsett post in two. Was it causing the problems? No idea!

So, I left off as we were sat under a big old oak… and now I resume there, again. Plus some more small steam engines.

Next, cars…

And the tractors…

Here’s a bunch of military stuff:

MEDiA: Saxondale

Watching this terrific little series again. What fun! as Miranda’s mum liked to say. Saxondale really tickles my funny-bone. And laughter is great medicine when you’re wrestling with a St. Bernard’s sized black-eyed dog.

The ageing quite clever and quite articulate ex-roadie turned pest controller is a great creation. Struggling with anger issues, and having to deal with the excruciating Vicky (Morwena Banks) to get jobs.

He encounters a Top Gear presenter, his ex-roadie pal Deggsy, animal rights protestors who object to his pest control methods, and a plethora of other characters, from the occasional appearances of hapless shopping centre-salesmen (Tim Key), to regulars, like Vicky, Raymond, his girlfriend, Magz, and his anger management counsellor, Alistair (James Bachman).

Vicky, Raymond, and Tommy.

In a similar yet different way to Coogan’s sublime Alan Partridge, the whole attention to detail thing with Saxondale’s music-obsessed character is a real pleasure for those who, like me, share similar interests.

And, again, as with Partridge, we love him as much for his myriad foibles and failings, as for his ‘good qualities’ – be they his ‘Stang, ready wit, or ‘classic rock’ schtick – all the while squirming in embarrassment when he goes off on another misplaced tanned-genital rant.

The scenes with his daughter and her beau are great, as Saxondale battles with his responses – whether natural or conditioned – and piles mistaken assumptions on top of angry prejudices. And all the while Focus or Tull, and similar ‘70s sounds, pump up the irony of the disparity between an ageing rocker’s dreams and visions of himself, and the humdrum reality.

Vicky, perma-tanned denizen of a Stevenage industrial estate.

The rapport with Vicky, via whom he gets his pest control jobs, is truly and deeply and excruciatingly excellent. Indeed, all the relationships are really well observed, teetering between very broad humour, and finely nuanced observation.

There are just so many moments that resonate: the comfy old slippers, the lines of coke with Deggsy whilst lamenting the follies of the world, the inadvertent self-harm at the gym (and the hilarious drive home after), and the struggles with ageing.

These latter range from Saxondale’s quirky facial tics and odd snuffling noises, to his inability to hoist himself into a loft (as his young assistant Raymond does), the glasses scene with hooker, the need for Viagra, and limitations on sexual positions due to a body that’s gradually wearing out.

Another dimension to all this, besides the 70s rock thread, is the general cultural milieu, with Tommy quoting Zulu, and frequently harping on about everything from Isambard Kingdom Brunel to Barnes Wallis. A set of … eugh! tropes (spits and washes mouth out) that fit a certain demographic, to which I belong, like Cinders’ glass slippers.

It’s humour that cuts pretty close to the bone, for some of us viewers. And, I think, is all the funnier for it.

Tommy smoking a dolphin bong. Brilliant!
A fab scene from Tommy’s anger management group.
Several fab scenes from Tommy’s anger management group.

I love the scenes at the anger management group that Tommy attends, at the local library. His humour and sarcasm are tragicomic, and, as with much comedy (also very much so with Partridge) he says out loud what many might think, but either then think better of, or at least choose not to say out loud.

Teresa isn’t so keen. ‘It’s a boy’s thing’, she says. And maybe she’s right? Still, I love it!

CAR: New Old MX5!

I recently got back in touch with a friend, Melanie de Smith, who I hadn’t seen for several decades. We found each other via another mutual friend, on Facebook, How they know each other I’m yet to find out.

Mel and I have now met a few times. The first time was at Amy Ellis’ last birthday party. And it there that we discovered we both have MX5s, of similar style and vintage. Hers is 19 years old, and has done about 110k, mine is 20, and has clocked up over 190k!

They’re neither of them in tip-top shape. Mine has the ubiquitous rust issues. Hers has those as well, although (poss’?) to a lesser degree, and, she tells me, needs a new clutch soon. Judging from how it drives, she probably needs rear brake callipers as well.

And, rather tragically, both our cars have had the CATs stolen in the last 6-12 months! I only just had mine (and most of the exhaust) replaced! The idea is, with the two MX5s, I might just get one that’s a runner. And keep the other for spares. Or poss even a project re-build?

Southbound platform at March Station.

I took the train from March to Cambridge, and then a bus, from the rail station to Cavendish Avenue, where Mel and her car are/were. I always feel a bit like tourist when I’m on public transport!

View from March rail station foot-bridge.
Nice shadows!

That was all yesterday. Today I fitted a new number plate holder. Mel had broken the old one, in a bump. I also gave the car a light partial wash, in the muckiest areas. Just to spruce her up a bit! Need to get her declared SORN now.

MiSC: B1101 Crash Update – First Fatality

I spoke to Mark Raftery, pictured, at the scene.

A few days ago I was driving on the B1101, and I passed the site of the awful crash I witnessed on Dec’ 8th, ‘22. I noticed a floral tribute on the side of the road where the crash occurred.

Rather tragic and depressing.

A bit of ‘Googling’ and I found this, which reveals that the driver of the dark grey VW Golf has died, about three weeks after the actual collision (Dec’ 28th). The man’s name, Mark Raftery, of Elm, Wisbech. Various articles online give his age as either 48 or 49.

I spoke to all three of the victims at the scene. Mark’s cries of pain and anguish were the most harrowing thing about the experience. He even said ‘I’m gonna die’. Which, it now turns out, was prophetic.

Apparently a silver Audi had sped past a van that was heading towards Wisbech, and Mr Raftery attempted to do the same, only to collide head on with a lady who, although she has serious – possibly life changing – injuries has said (via a local Facebook page) that she’s ok.

What was the role of the silver Audi in this appalling crash, and Raftery’s subsequent death? From what little I saw and heard – I only saw the impact itself from a distance; more detail came from the driver of the van, who was so nearly caught up in the collision – it seems that it was Mr Raftery’s overtaking manoeuvre that caused the crash. Was he racing or chasing the mysterious silver Audi?

Raftery’s passenger (30, but unnamed) has also been left with serious ‘life changing’ injuries. And what about the gaffer-taped number plates on the car Raftery was driving? That was weird…

A little bit of online digging revealed this. It seems Mark Raftery has previous for dangerous driving, causing the death of his brother Kevin, in 2008. As a result of which, in 2010, Mark was sentenced to five years in prison.

It must be awful for all involved. Perhaps especially for the Raftery family, who have now lost two brothers. Hopefully all who know about this tragedy will learn to take care whilst driving.

Some time later… Whilst not wishing to speak ill of the dead, as the saying goes, during my ongoing searches for more info’ on this accident online, I first discovered that Mark had killed his brother in the aforementioned 2008 crash, and then read this, which includes the following:

‘The court heard that Raftery had 19 previous convictions for 41 offences. At the time of the crash he was driving at around 90mph whilst around three times over the drink drive limit.’

… sheeit! I just hope the other two victims of this event survive and are ok.

MiSC: Lazy Sundays

Chester grabs hold of my arm, adorable!

Today was a terrifically relaxing Sunday, after a rather odd Saturday (about the latter*; least said, soonest mended!).

What a funny boy!

For once we actually got properly stuck in to doing next to nothing. And boy was it worth it! It’s actually incredibly hard to really stop and do very little. Modern life has this way of making one feel permanently plugged in to myriad little chores and worries.

Of course we didn’t literally do absolutely nothing. It was Chinese New Year, so we had a Chinese meal, partly from the local takeaway, and partly home cooked. We ate at the dining table. A rare event! Mainly because it’s usually overloaded with detritus.

The Sunday Scrabble board.

We also played our usual game of Sunday afternoon Scrabble, after taking some turns on Crash Bandicoot 2, on my ancient but still functioning PS1. Whilst playing Scrabble we watched The Fast Lady, starring Stanley Baxter, James Robertson Justice, Leslie Phillips and Julie Christie. Goodness me, Christie really was something!

What a great poster!**

I think we must’ve watched this movie before? Either that, or it’s almost identical to another we’ve seen!? The weird thing is that I have memories of watching a film with almost exactly the same plot (and possibly even the same actors?) but in black and white, not colour. And with a different car at the centre of the action. A car with all kinds of weird pipes coming out of the engine? Or am I conflating two different films into one? But of a mystery either way!

Screen blankets…
… prevent frosting.

And talking about cars: my Mazda needs these protective window doodads Teresa bought me, which keep the two main screens frost-free. And I’ve also been putting a blanket in the boot, to wrap up the battery, and prevent it causing no-starts!

-3° according to my iPhone weather app.

* This little asterisked note is a much later (23/3/‘23) addition to this post; only much later – the gravity of the situation at the time eluded me – have I come to realise what a complete effin’ nightmare might ensue from my getting thrown out of our local ‘Spoons, aka The Hippodrome.

Teresa and I used to be model customers, and regular patrons. Not because of Tim the Twat’s appalling politics, or the enlightened way in which he runs his business, but because it was just good enough on the cost/benefit scales, when it came to eating out as an occasional treat, to work well for us.

I am now a leper pariah, barred entrance!

A sporran affair: ‘Och, worra lassie!‘

** If misleading: Leslie Phillips, his babes, and JRJ all really take a back seat to the two stars missing from this poster, Baxter & Christie!

CARS: CaRSE!!! Pt.2 – Further MX5 Battery Stuff…

The battery in my MX5 is in the boot!

Having had to postpone my Wednesday teaching to today (Thursday), I had to cancel it altogether. On account of the car still being a frozen block of ice!

However, the sun was out today. And despite the temperature remaining zero or below, it meant I could more easily defrost the car.

This thing seemed to (eventually) do the trick.

Not only had the Arctic conditions drained my battery. They had also meant that the door locks weren’t working as the should. Somehow the electrics for the door locks were going mental, or just seizing up altogether. Squirting WD40 into the locks seemed to ease them a bit.

Around midday I decided to try to start the car again. I’d defrosted it, partly with the sun’s help, and the locks were now responding to my keys (at one point the locks had been so seized up I couldn’t even insert my keys!).

Our local Halfords gave the battery the all clear.

And, lo! The car didst start!! We drove to Halfords, where I’d bought this battery (prob’ about three years ago?), and they tested it. Somewhat to our surprise they told me it was fine. Fine!? Oh well… saves us some more unwelcome expenditure. I just hope tomorrow she’ll start up on, as it’s fookin’ freezing again!

CARS: CaRSE!!! Pt.1 – Dead battery on MX5 (again!)

Not a great pic. But car is all frosted up!

Aaargh! For the second time in about one week, my MX5’s battery appears to have died/drained.

First time it happened I was in the middle of nowhere. Luckily for me there were a few houses about a 1/4 mile away, and I was at a scenic spot where folk walk their dogs or just stop to look at the riverbank.

A local chap tried to help me start with jump leads. To no avail. So I enlisted the help an older guy sat in his Merc’, no doubt relaxing, and we all three push-started my little motor. Since which time she’s been running fine.

And then this morning, at about 7am, getting ready to take Teresa to work – on account of the train strikes (which I wholeheartedly support; up the workers, and boo-sucks to our crypto-fascist Tory state), nada… totally dead!

Tried to jump start via cables again, with two neighbours pitching in. But no luck! After a bit of anguished searching, we located a small battery charger I got via Amazon Vine.

The manual for the charger (a Noco Genius 1!) says it’ll take 9 hours – trickle charging, I guess? – to recharge a 12V battery, such as our MX5 has.

So, it’s no work, as we’re stranded at home. And instead I’m going to do lots of practice pad stuff. Finger and hand technique: fast finger rolls, open-close, push-pull, Moeller, etc.

MiSC: Shocking Accident!

On my drive home from doing a spot of Amazon Flex deliveries I witnessed a car crash. I’ve often seen the aftermath of accidents. But actually seeing one happen is pretty shocking. It’s all over in a flash!

I’m guessing it was about 3.45/4pm, on the B1101 March Road. What I actually saw, of the accident itself, was a puff of smoke and a car spinning off the road.

A Van very close to the collision was unscathed, even though it had driven through the debris of the collision. I spoke to the driver of this van, and he said that the grey VW involved was the culprit, speeding past his van in an overtaking manoeuvre that went horrifically wrong.

The other car involved in the collision – a silver VW – had been spun off the road and into a field. The lady driver was in shock, and had a visible bleeding leg injury. Given the proximity of trees and deep ditches either side of the toad, it was miraculous that things weren’t far worse.

I was the closest car in the southbound lane, and dropped and approached the scene on foot. There were two men from the grey VW, both moaning and calling for help. An overweight middle-aged guy was behind the wheel, and a skinnier younger guy was laid out on the verge, having managed to exit the car.

Several factors – besides the shock of seeing injured/distressed people stuck in or near their vehicles – really struck me: first, the source of the smoke/steam, which was the engine of the VW. This had shot out of the car, and lay on the verge, about 50-100 yards from the vehicle. The impact must’ve been massive to cause that!?

Second, the VW’s plates had only been held in place by gaffer tape. The rear one wasn’t on the vehicle any more. Nor was the front one; the whole front was totally trashed, and mostly missing. A sole reg plate, with some gaffer on it, lay near the van. Was this the front or back plate? I’m guessing it was the rear one, as the front end was in hundreds of pieces all over the road.

After calling 999 – which the van driver on the scene had also already done – I talked to all the injured parties. I couldn’t offer any aid, as I’m totally unqualified to do so. Bit of a shock that; makes me feel I ought to know more.

The copper on the 999 call got me to take certain info – registrations, etc. (difficult re the grey Golf, for reasons alluded to above!) – and wanted to use my iPhone camera remotely. But that didn’t work.

As already mentioned, I talked to the van driver. He told me that another car had sped past, overtaking him, and then the grey VW attempted to do the same, but lost control, and collided with the silver VW in the oncoming lane.

The gaffer taped number plates, the race or chase scenario, and just a general vibe off the VW occupants – trackies and super-bling jewellery – lead me to suspect they may be criminals, perhaps in a stolen car.

Whether this proves to be the case, or not, I just hope their reckless driving hasn’t harmed the lady in the other vehicle too badly.

The emergency services arrived pretty promptly. The police first, then the fire brigade, and I’m assuming an ambulance, although I don’t actually recall seeing the latter.

The van driver who so nearly got caught up in the accident, myself, and several other people got involved, talking to the car occupants, calling 999, etc. It was pretty horrible. Esp’ when the two guys in the grey car were moaning, the driver semi-screaming, calling out for help. I think he said something along the lines of ‘I’m dying’!

A salutory reminder to always drive carefully. And – however carefully one drives oneself – to be as aware as poss’ of other road users.

UPDATE: In the aftermath of this accident I was constantly googling for info, and I even posted about it on a local FB discussion group type page.

The latter lead to the lady in the accident posting, to say she was injured but had survived. It was good to hear she was, in a way (see below), ok.

But nothing official appeared in the media about it for over a week. Eventually a slew of identical ‘features’ appeared in the local press, from where I take the following:

Police are appealing for witnesses after a collision left a woman with life-changing injuries and two others seriously injured.

At about 3.45pm on 8 December, a silver Volkswagen Golf and a dark grey Volkswagen R32 Golf were involved in collision on the B1101 March Road, between Coldham and March.

The driver of the silver Golf, a woman aged 50, was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The driver of the Gold [sic*] R32, a man aged 49, received potentially life-changing injuries and a passenger, a man aged 30, was left with serious injuries.

All involved were from the Wisbech area.

PC Joe Woolf said: “I am particularly keen to speak to the driver of a sports-type silver Audi who I believe witnessed the crash. I would also urge anyone else who saw what happened or believes they saw the vehicles in the build up to it, or has relevant dashcam footage, to get in touch.”

Anyone with information is advised to contact Cambridgeshire Police on 101. They can also report it via the force’s web chat, quoting incident 346 of December 8.

* Having already said it’s dark grey, I’m assuming this typo should read Golf!?

CARS: MX5 Nipple Reduction Surgery

I used plasticine to profile the inside of my ‘nipple’.

A few days back I posted about how annoying this particular little job was becoming: first I get two new parts, but the one that prompted the work – the ‘nipple’ for the really poorly fitting/closing latch – breaks almost immediately. Back to square one!

Another view; hopefully the different shapes are slightly clearer here?

So I order a new part. But it’s different, and doesn’t actually fit. It’s a more ‘pointy’ shape. At least this clarifies for me the type of latch and nipples (oo-er!) I had installed before, i.e. the more rounded type.

These differences in shape mean that the screw hole in the nipple doesn’t align with the threaded hole in the latch, necessitating either a different part, or making changes to one of the parts, so they do align.

The holes don’t align!

According to some sources it’s only the pointy type that are easily and widely available now. I don’t know if there’s any truth in that or not, as I definitely can get the other sort elsewhere. And, indeed, I already have done (on my first attempt).

The ‘male’ latch part filed down a bit.

Anyway, as I’m broke, rather than buy a third one (or pair), I decided instead to file the metal on the latch to conform to the ‘nipple’, instead. That took a bit of work, but I think it achieved the desired goal.

Viewed from t’other side.
After some filing, the two holes align nicely.

This job turned out to be a right pain in the rump. Firstly, with parts breaking or not fitting. Then, when I’d filed the latch to fit the nipple, I discovered that the entire soft-top frame seems somewhat out of alignment. I had to wrestle with it a fair bit to make everything align better.

Reassembled and back in place.

Is this the price I’m paying for loading my little MX5 with all kinds of stupid burdens over the years? I’ve had all sorts, from fence-panels, timber, doors, to trees, chests of drawers, fridges, and lord knows what else, on the back of Maisie. Often sitting atop the folded away roof. Have I bent it all out of whack?

After struggling with this latter issue for a while, and fiddling with the latch adjustments, so that both are quite tight, but neither are fully tightened, I’ve finally managed not just to close the top, but to eradicate the very large (and formerly plainly visible) gap, on the driver’s side.

Sooo much better! Green algae points to next job.*

I can’t find any before pics (although I’m certain I took some!?), alas. But above and below are some after shots. Trust me, it looks waaay better!

I’m hoping it’s improved the ride as well, as before the sound of wind coming through said gap was really, really, REALLY, REALLY annoying! It was sooo loud – it literally roared – that music or conversation were pretty much out at over 55/60mph.

Passenger side, looking as it did both before and after.

I’ll be taking her out for a spin later to see how all this nipple play has affected things!

… A bit later the same day… Well, I took her out, with Teresa, for a brief spin. And, my oh my, what a difference! No roaring airflow, nor can I even feel any draught. And – although we’re currently in a heatwave – this’ll mean no more ingress of rain. Wahoo!

* Next? Either adding some of the silicone pipes I got from BOFIracing a whiles back , or using the Auto Glym products I have to clean and re-waterproof the soft-top. Hmmm!??