By Mike Peake
Saturday morning found me winding down a country lane looking for the Brooks who needed a lift in. Needless to say, Gladys the sat nav wasn’t very helpful and I was reduced to asking the local postie for directions. I finally found them and whisked us all to the NEC, trying to blank out the continuation of last night’s micky taking.
The 1st hour and a half in the halls is a bit of a haze for me as I was a quivering nervous wreck with my time split equally between the “facilities” and hiding behind Apollo blubbing like a little girl.
Mrs FB arrived with my daughters and then bolstered my confidence by beating me around head and telling me to “pull myself together”.
It was time to head to the stage and I felt like a man on the “gallows walk” but I made it there and mounted the stage with my fellow death row inmates from the Jowett club and 2CVGB.
I perched on the ridiculous “boy band” bar stools and just waited for the axe to fall in the shape of the rowdy chorus of “who ate all the pies” that I was expecting from my friends. It didn’t happen and I felt a modicum of relief and thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
Danny Hopkins (Editor of Practical Classics) introduced the segment and we were off. He then asked the 1st question … directed at … ME! It was quite a simple question. He asked me to tell everyone my name and which group I was representing. Of course I immediately forgot the answer to both but it didn’t matter because as I tried to stutter out something, anything, bumbling incompetence struck. My microphone didn’t work. I don’t think it was my bumbling incompetence as I really hadn’t had it long enough to break it, but it wasn’t working. It was soon swapped for a functioning one and having accidentally gained some thinking time, I finally stuttered out the correct answers.
Between trying to maintain my balance on the ridiculous stool and concentrating on the questions and my answers, I forgot my nerves and made it all the way to the end without completely embarrassing myself or the club. There wasn’t even the slightest heckle from my friends! I’d like to think this was out of respect for me and my position with the club, but suspect that it is far more likely that they were scared into good behaviour by a glaring Mrs FB and the threat of the withdrawal of cake privileges.
Well, with that ordeal over and done with, it was back to the stand for a celebratory slice of cake and a cup of coffee. Everyone was polite enough to say that it had all gone well and I’d done a good job, but I was holding a knife at the time.
With my adrenaline levels ebbing I could relax and mooch around the halls for a bit with my family and we had a very nice time of it. The highlight for Emily-Fleur was when a celebrity even higher in the lists than me actually spoke to her. It was Lewis Hamilton’s Dad and I don’t think she’ll ever forget his words. He said “Oh! Sorry! I didn’t see you there.” I’m sure that this was all down to my own new found celebrity status.
My celebrity status also made it possible for Tosh Brooks to smuggle Nick and I into the VIP auction area. I could really get used to this. However, he soon had me thrown out again when I started bidding on an SS Jaguar using his auction ID number.
Jaguarless, I returned to mooching the halls with my family having a great time discussing which cars we would take home with us if we could. Of course Anita and Emily were going to take all the minis home but Sophie was torn between the TR7s and MG Midgets.
Me? Well almost everything! However, this little gem caught my attention.
Yes, I’m sure it’s not to everyone’s cup of tea but holds a place in my heart as it was my Mum’s 1st car. Hers was a Talbot Horizon, but otherwise identical to this one. Mum learned to drive later in life and actually only passed her test (1st time) a year or two before me. Therefore my Mum, me and my younger brother all learned to drive in this car. The poor thing. My brother is the only one in our family, including my daughters, that didn’t pass his test first time, but we barely mention it these days. We barely mention the fact that there wasn’t a single undented panel left after he’d finished with the car either.
Whilst on our mooch, we bumped into fellow member, Andy Gardner on the TR youth stand where amazingly, he’d actually remembered to bring his classic car with him this time. It’s a jolly nice TR7 that he has shoe horned a really, really big V8 into. He immediately fell back down to young idiot status again when he admitted that both Harris Mann and Lewis Hamilton’s Dad had been chatting to him on the stand but he forget to get photos with them or get Mr Mann’s signature on his boot lid. Like I said, Idiot! He’s even got a rosette to prove it.
Of course there was plenty more to see in the vast acreage of displays and here are a few of my favourites.
No selection of my favourites would be complete without me boring you with yet another pic of that 1930’s Triumph Dolomite. But no! it’s not the red coupe this time but a black saloon showing off that incredible waterfall grill.
Oh OK. The red coupe was here again too.
Another car that grabbed my attention for personal reasons was this absolutely mint Vauxhall Viceroy with its 2500 straight six engine that I believe it shared with the Bedford vans. Only 2290 of these cars were made by Vauxhall. Not out of any ideas about limited editions, I just don’t think it sold very well.
Why do I like it so much? Well I had one. It was my 2nd car when I was 19 or so. It used to waft me effortlessly between Swindon and London to see the future Mrs FB in velour clad luxury. Nothing puts a rose tint on your glasses more than nostalgia, but I did love that car. I had to sell it in the end though, because I took a job in Reading and I couldn’t afford the petrol bill this monster was producing on the daily commute from Swindon. Ahhh… happy days. Mine was white with a black vinyl roof registered RLF 410W and sadly, hasn’t survived. I hadn’t seen another one in the flesh since I sold mine back in the early 90’s so this was a real treat for me.
It was soon time for my ladies to head to their various homes and I headed back to man the stand for the last couple of hours and eat cake before a pleasant evening meal in a Harvester. I had a much more relaxed evening than the last one.
To Be continued …
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