by Mike Peake
It is November 2015 and the date for our groups much anticipated Coventry meet was fast approaching. I had been keeping an eye on the weather forecast praying to the classic car gods that it would be one of those bright frosty winter days, but it didn’t look like my prayers would be answered.
So the Friday before the meet found me back at the lockup struggling manfully to erect the hood. “But Herald hoods are easy to put up” I hear you cry. Well not so with Poppy. You see, as some of you may remember from previous chapters, Poppy’s hood frame has suffered the tests of time and is broken above the driver’s door and where it joins the header rail on the passenger side. All this means that I need to have a compliment of arms commensurate with a Hindu goddess in order to successfully erect my sad hood.
Some hours later and the hood was up and I was ready for any inclement weather. Or so I thought. Walking back round the car I discovered this:
What was I to do? Well, go back home in a huff to start with, but a quick interrogation of Mr Google turned up a local boat chandler that could furnish me with the necessary clear vinyl and glue to effect a repair. (Well I do live in Royal Wootton Bassett don’t you know and Chaps do need to go boating on the local River Thames)
I was soon back at the lockup cutting out the old window and measuring up for the new one.
There was nothing else for it; I would have to resort to bodgery. The best fitting scrap of clear vinyl was offered up to the window hole, and stuck on with copious amounts of duct tape.
Well the day of the Coventry meet dawned and it happened to coincide with the arrival of Armageddon. Horizontal rain was lashing in on force 18 gales. Leaves and litter were being blown all over the place along with fence panels, half a tree, the odd shed and small children. (OK, maybe some slight exaggeration here, but the weather really was bloody awful!) The thought of abandoning my trip never even entered my head though. I’m a proper tough guy ex prop forward.
So with a boot full of tools and spares I set off to Cricklade where Poppy would meet her travelling companion for the day. This was a red MGB MK1/2 christened Johnny (after the Johnny Cash song “one Piece at a time”) and piloted by Chris Ball, a friend and colleague from work. I know Chris and his MG quite well having shown him how to service the car when he 1st had it and changed his clutch for him. Obviously this was before he’d read any of my blogs and realised what an incompetent bumbling fool I really am.
Anyway, with the MG leading because Chris had a sat nav, we set off up the A429 dodging floods and low flying trees along the way. (I’m fairly certain I saw Dorothy’s house spin by too.) It was as we were approaching Morton in the Marsh, our epic expedition took another turn. The MG suddenly emitted showers of golden sparks from underneath. “Oh that’s pretty” I thought “and how appropriate so close to bonfire night”. I was just starting to think that I ought to draw Chris’s attention to the fact that his car was on fire and had started beeping my horn and flashing my lights when he pulled into a petrol station. He’d realised he had a problem as his electrics were “doing funny things” but then cleared at about the same time I’d noticed the sparks had stopped. Of course, I then proceeded to scare him a bit more with tales of the firework display I’d been treated to before we decided that we had better assess the damage.
We accosted two strapping passers-by to hold onto the open bonnet and anchored ourselves to a handy concrete bollard so we weren’t blown away. We then peered into the depths of the engine bay and saw…absolutely nothing amiss! “Oh well, let’s crack on then” we decided. So Chris jumped back in and turned the key. We were greeted with silence. “Your starter’s had it” I shouted. “I’ll get my tools” he shouted back. He appeared back at the front of the car clutching a large hammer. (You can tell he’d been learning from me can’t you?) I let him give his starter a good beating, partly to let him work off his frustration, but mostly for the entertainment value it gave me. You see, I’d already cleverly worked out that the starter hadn’t returned to rest after starting the car at Cricklade and had been “driven” ever since, destroying the brushes which was the cause of the firework display.
When Chris had finished beating his starter, I regaled him with my expert diagnosis. The 2 strapping passers-by and I bump started the MG and we continued our intrepid voyage with nothing else to bother us except the weather.
I have to admit that I was starting to worry that Poppy and the MG would be the only cars to turn up given that the end of the world was in full swing. However, as we approached Coventry, we fell in behind a rather nice blue Vauxhall FE and decided to follow him in. I was just starting to have visions of pulling up onto Vauxhall chaps drive and being arrested for stalking when it turned out that he was actually going the meet after all.
You can imagine our relief when the museum frontage hove into view and there was Gar Cole doing his best Fat Controller impression and herding us into formation amongst the plethora of shining, windswept, rain beaten beauties already present. (Some of the cars looked a bit forlorn in that weather too.)
More and more cars just kept turning up, the weather cleared somewhat and the event was buzzing. It was without doubt the friendliest car show I have ever been to and the museum is a great venue. Best of all? There was free CAKE. Thanks again, of course, to Gar and all those who helped make this show so good.
After a great day and bump starting Chris’s MG again, a trouble free cruise back home ensued and Poppy was snuggled up in the garage for the winter again. Save for those mythical bright and frosty days.
Oh, and the reason I had noticed that the cabin was a bit draftier than normal with the roof up? My bodged window repair fell out after driving less than 30 yds!
Chris did eventually fix his starting problem. Whether I tell you about his efforts or not in a future blog, depends entirely on how much he is willing to pay me to keep quiet.
And that pretty much brings us up to date so what better way to finish it off in this group than with a cake my daughters made me back in 2008 for my Birthday. (When they were very young.)
Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read about my journey through life with Poppy. I hope you have enjoyed and not lost the will to live too often.
Also, a big "Thank you" to Paul Sweeney to for his support and patient editing.
I shall continue my tale as and when material is provided by my incompetence in dealing with the jobs still on my to do list (roof repairs, paintwork, etc) or anything else that crops up.
I am really looking forward to attending all four of our real world group meets in 2016 with Poppy, so see you there. I’m rather hoping that these meets will provide more material too.
See you soon
Fatbloke and Poppy
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