Time flies when you’re having fun. What happened to the summer of 2004? Last thing I seem to remember it was February, it felt like I spent forever waiting for the Pom to arrive. Now all of a sudden we’re battening down the hatches for Christmas, trying to work out where to have the Christmas works do and whether the Christmas cards should be a floral pattern or a bit more fun than that. I suppose we fitted a lot in this year with VSCC racing, Monaco Historic, International Rally, Next Generation Rally and our little private junket off down to Lyon and across to Angouleme a couple of weeks ago – oh and of course I forgot Goodwood. Bugattis in the Brooklands race and the first time I’ve ever felt enough responsibility in a racing car not to drive it as fast as I could. Goodwood was also notable for my father’s return to a racecar for the first time in years, possibly even ten years. Yes the red car and all that was more than ten years ago. As I said time flies when you’re having fun! His Alvis Grey Lady flew and was one of the stars of the event and although fairly standard was perhaps a little bit more modified than the Bugattis have been in the past. We also got a B Type Connaught to Goodwood after rebuilding the engine and the fuel system and – well that seemed to take a long time so it probably wasn’t quite as much fun, but it finished and finished quite well, so altogether it was a pleasing event.
The best fun so far this year has got to have been that Angouleme trip though. Three Bugattis, best part of fifteen hundred miles in ten days and apart from the fuel, oil and plugs no major problems. In fact the biggest hold up to the trip was the short range tanks on the drivers rather than the tanks on the Bugattis. We stayed at some wonderfully eccentric chateaux and on a lake which was quite stunning. I hope that Hugh, Mike, Charles and Alan enjoyed it as much as I did and that Heike can forgive the French their cuisine and us for our references to Bavaria. I’ve left Louise out for a special mention as shepherding us across France and back again was left to her, an onerous task at the best of times and late at night, when panic set in with certain people about eating, she managed to keep her calm which I thought was rather impressive. I hope all of that didn’t spoil her enjoyment too much either.
I started the year with high hopes of getting some of our outstanding projects behind us. Finally the Type 40, 37 and 44 cylinder blocks will be very useful as the engine for my Type 40 is coming on, I am looking forward to see how it works as a trials car next year. The 46 blocks have been disappointing in as much as there doesn’t seem to be anybody out there who wants any, but I am sure once John gets his car back on the road again interest in the big touring cars will be rekindled. The overdrive gearbox which is waiting to be fitted to Fitzroy’s 46 may prove a useful addition to 46s and 50s when they’re used on international tours.
Despite almost continuous nagging the website is still much as it was at the beginning of the year, although we have managed to download our parts list and we’re working at newsletters. I am hoping to employ a new PA fairly soon, which may mean that we’ll be able to start pushing ahead and getting the website fully up. I am thinking of adding a new section to it: places to stay, or in some cases places to avoid like the plague.
So summer has gone, the days are getting shorter; we’ve got the long slog of winter ahead of us, interminably long and frustrating Christmas period. Sorry Charles I am sure there will be lots of fairy lights, the inevitable snow early next year and England coming to a halt, while all the time the spin aimed at the general election will come at as thick and fast from TV and radio. If the summer has gone in a flash certainly this period won’t feel anything like the same, but I wouldn’t mind betting that February feels like it’s here before we know it, and everyone is going to want their car done in a mad rush.
One of the funny things about our peculiar way of life is that every year we go to the same places at more or less similar times. Probably the most notable of these is Beaulieu in September where my father has a stall which sits across from the Vineyard, every year when you go to Beaulieu it’s as if you’ve never been away; the same place, the same view, a lot of the same bits, memories of Scrumpy Jack and interesting half remembered conversations. I guess the mind works with certain triggers, and in time Goodwood, with it’s year in year out sameness will give similar stimuli. This year I had that same feeling of never being away. We were in Monaco and it was late and I was walking back on my own, past the parking de portier and it felt just like it did the first time I’d been there. That first time there were posters everywhere of a ghost kind of intermingled with a no entry sign. It said, “They’re coming to save the World”, it was the big film of the end of that year. I watched it the other night, Ghostbusters, 1984. As I say, walking past the parking de portier it felt like I’d never been away. Time flies when you’re having fun.