Buying a Morris Minor.

Quick Recap

My friend Jess and I found ourselves at the edge of Exeter looking at a Morris Minor 2dr saloon. A few days before I had been looking at classified adds on Gumtree…Classified Classic Car Hunting

Running? 

 With a battery attached the engine was coaxed into running for a few seconds. Whilst I might not know much about Morris Minors, I do about the A series engine and this one was sweet sounding.  Assessing a Car

Dashboard & General Condition
After wrestling  a seat into the empty cabin, I sat behind the wheel, the dash being very different to the later ones. The iconic central Morris Minor Speedo not only stylish but also very practical as it allowed both right hand and left drive vehicles to be made much cheaper.  

Yet here was a dash that looked much less 1950’s and more 1940’s. Cream painted tin, chrome, and bakerlite with Banjo 3 spoke steering wheel… The lighter  panels offset  by the rich blue of an earlier window out respray.  

 All the tyres would need replacing and to be honest the amount of welding needed scared me silly. Yet…  Welding One Small Patch?

Jess and I went back for a little chat beside Bel, my MX 5. He said it was bad, but it could be far worse. The expense being the body on a Morris Minor as the rest is fairly cheap.  Yet the engine was good and we gambled on the transmission. He went on to say, Morris Minors seem to have either good oily bits and poor bodies or the other way round…  

From the floors up she was solid.  

https://youtu.be/q9WvF7gD_3M

https://youtu.be/_5qK4wW33Mk

Negotiating a price.  

As Jess looked over the Moggie again I sat down with the seller. 
 

We have all watched those shows where people rip the seller off and flip the car for a big profit. Others have described them as sharks with smiles… 
I’m not like that, but when I do low ball, I’ve learnt that if we are getting on it is much easier. 
After telling the seller that I was going to the mickey and that he wasn’t going to get upset. He wasn’t, told me up the price by £100 and knowing he was being a gent, we didn’t shake hands, but I gave him a £200 deposit… I knew it that he had come down a long way and I wasn’t going to insult him any further.  MX5 Goodbye.

After visiting a nearby supermarket, taking the rest of the money out I paid the seller.  Arranging to pick the car up soon, Jess and I left to see a friend locally for a socially distanced coffee before heading back down the A30 to Cornwall roof down… 
I’d bought a Morris Minor, and early one, but what had I actually bought? 

Classified Classic Car Hunting

Classified Hunting. 

Late night classified add looking is never a good thing. 
Hunting that bargain, odd wording, fuzzy pictures or lack whereof spark the interest.  

Requirements

As I’ve already mentioned, the car to replace Bel would have to be an historic one, tax and mot free with cheap insurance. Also, the parts would have to be plentiful and cheap.  That immediately discounts anything with a VW badge, as yes there lots about but you pay a premium. http://www.classicaraddict.com/mx5-goodbye/
 

My requirements meant an older British car, ideally an MG MGB GT, but they are little expensive. To be honest I’m horrified how much once cheap cars are now worth, Ford Capris as an example, a few years ago bangers now anything is worth thousands. After this shock I found myself looking at adds and this is when living in Cornwall is an issue, for many Bristol is the far southwest, Exeter might as well be France  and Cornwall Outer Mongolia. Combined with the amount of salt in the air here, especially near the North Coast we have to travel.  18 months ago I found a MK1 Toyota Rave 4 Auto for a friend at Honiton and felt I’d got away lightly.  Finding a Unicorn Car for a Friend.

 What To Look For In An Add.  

After looking on Facebook Market Place and eBay I tried Gumtree. Lots of  adds full of clear pictures and well written and with each one my heart sank a little lower. Then one stood out, a single fuzzy picture not too far away by our standards as only 100 miles, well 96 away. After getting used to how gumtree works I contacted the seller and asked if we could have a look at the weekend. It would have to be Sunday as I was towing a car back from Plymouth for a friend on the Saturday.  https://www.gumtree.com/

Initial Contact With The Seller.

We agreed a time, this was Thursday evening, on Saturday I confirmed that we would be aiming to be there at midday and if we came to an agreement £200 pounds would be a suitable deposit.  Just before we left on Sunday morning in Bel my soon to be sold MX5 I messaged to let the seller know we were on our way. 

Arriving / Initial  Impressions.  

Aiming for midday I rang 2 minutes passed to let him know we were outside. As he opened the gate, the seller said, “the price is not fixed.” Not the thing to say to a buyer…  The seller is a true gent and to see his lifetime collection of pushbikes, cars, and paraphernal was amazing.  He showed us his much loved 1925 Citroen Cloverleaf  looking just like Brum the children television series and not that much bigger.   

Three generations of petrolheads together all sharing the same passion. The seller, myself and my mate Jess in his early 20’s. Those who know Jess would have guessed the car now. For those who don’t, Jess has two cars on the road, one 1956 2dr  rat rod and the other a very original 1966  4dr and this was the reason he was with me.  Both Jess’s cars are Morris Minors and the car  was a one, except it was a little rarer than many.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/importance-of-gut-instinct/ 

A Morris Minor, But what Type? 

I’d found a 1952 split screen 2dr Minor, listed as a series two and needing a lot of work. She had been stood standing for over 10 years the seller having rescued it from a possible destruction a few years back.  Yet not having the welding skills, he never managed to get her on the road. With the arrival of the Citroen it was time to let her go. 
To be honest my first impression was oh bugger as the interior was stripped out and clearly both sills and lot more needed doing. Yet as Jess clambered all over her, and we managed to make her fire up she spoke to me. Running enough to let me know she wanted to live.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/33/

This is the first of a whole series of posts, and yes there is little hint there…

MX5 Goodbye.

 

Lock down… What a few months.  

The world seemed to  go into what I’d been dealing with from mid January. When I write this, I mean the social isolation and dealing with unknowns.  Thankfully, the nature of my work meant that I was allowed to travel for it. Working outdoors with my own tools for once had a few advantages.  

With the operation to my knee being far larger than expected the recovery was equally longer. 2 1/2 month after my knee brace coming off is my leg beginning to feel a lot better. 

So … Apart from going back to work what have I been up too…? 

After looking for a long time for a cheap longboard type paddleboard I found a bargain, less than 2 miles away. This being well within allowed travelling distance during the initial stage of lockdown. I will admit to low balling on an offer, what was already a bargain became a steal. The board, oh, it is an older Drops Spirit. Made and sold around 2009. The board is a classic longboard type shape, a little narrower than many later boards at 28 inches wide and fairly long at 10’11.  https://www.supgower.com/2009/11/drops-paddleboards/

I’ve been using my other boards to surf, like the lovely Fanatic Ray 11ft wd that I bought from Julie, my bothers wife. https://standuppaddlemag.co.uk/2015/06/05/recreationally-versatile-fanatic-ray-pure-11ft/Yet for a long time I’ve wanted a more authentic and manoeuvrable  sup surfing experience. After getting this board it fulfils 95% of my paddleboarding requirements with one board. Nice to paddle on the river, on a calm sea, yet in smaller surf, after getting used to it, simply amazing. I even did an accidental 180 when paddling out on my knees the other week.  The board started going backwards and then did a 180 degree turn, I stayed on. Opinion is divided if I can call this as my first. 
I’m sliming down my quiver to 4 boards, and one of those is only staying because one day I might be good enough to use it and I have the magazine which my brother wrote and article with  photos of him using it.

Early in the lockdown  lots people started posting lots of top ten lists, me being me, albums, films, etc… No, so I did my top ten cars. Yes, I’ve done that before on here I know… My favourite being Bel, with a very close second the Triumph Spitfire. Yet, Bel is an expensive car to keep. So sadly, is time to time to let her go. Soon she will have a fresh MOT and now is the right time to sell. Hopefully another person will enjoy her as much as I have.   http://www.classicaraddict.com/my-top-5-cars-ish/

 

 Bel costs me, even on a limited mileage policy £240 a year, and road tax is £275, mot £45. That is £560 pounds a year before she turns a wheel. A lot of money when you have none. If she was my daily driver and could carry a hard paddleboard there would be no question. She would stay, but time to let her go…  

Bel will be replaced, with a tax and MOT free car, or what DVLA call an historic vehicle.  Here in Cornwall, there a lot of these running about as daily drivers. Some young people appreciate the lower costs, yet, without an annual road safety check, I can but wonder how safe a lot are. Older cars require  a methodical approach to  maintenance  . Like for example a printing press it takes time to learn what but once you have it becomes more a question of noticing what is wrong, rather than right. 

I’m pretty fussy about the structural  and mechanical aspects of my vehicles, and far less so on appearance. Whatever she is replaced with, will still have a check over at least once a year by my trusted garage. That second set of experienced eyes worth so much.  

Having mentioned to the last owner of Bel that she would soon  be up for sale, I’ve been gently hassled since. With her booked in for an MOT next week she soon might be gone.  Bel has been my favourite car I’ve ever owned, like the close run second, the much missed Triumph Spitfire 1500, she wasn’t super fast, yet could cover ground like nothing else. 
Sadly, the combination of running costs and being unable to carry ridged paddleboard means she has to go.   

 

As I’m writing a friend has sold her little motorcycle, we are both grieving for lumps of steel, alloy rubber and plastic that have touched our souls.   

Dropping the Veil of Society

Dropping the Veil of Society  
For the first time the modern world has shut down.  Like the coyote from the Road Runner cartoon, we are still running, but now in thin air.  The veil of society has been removed and we find what behind is lacking.  


Globally, everyone has become interconnected. We all have, use and consume items from almost every corner of the planet. The economic model has been exposed.  Most of the wealth is owned by very few.  The harsh reality for many is that we are one or two pay cheques from poverty. 
Let alone what we as a species are doing to the planet. 

 

What is the aim of society?  

 Do most of us work to help the elite gain more power and money?  A couple of weeks ago I said goodbye to a client, we have been friends for 5 years. His widow says, “like two peas in a pod.” He died at home with his lifelong partner beside him. Almost 10 years ago I said goodbye to my father. To lead a good life and to die with those who care around us is all we can ask for.  

What is happening now? 

Typically, there has been mass stupidity at all levels. Governments not doing enough or acting fast enough. Selfish arseholes panic buying. Those same muppets not understanding that social distancing now has to be the norm. If we don’t, those overworked people of the medical and emergency services will become overwhelmed. The most vulnerable in society will be hit the hardest. 

 Other countries are facing total shutdown. At the moment, the UK has only partially done so, yet soon like Spain and other parts of the world we will only be allowed out for essential journeys.  I expect shortly after we will face rationing of everything including fuel. To get through this we need to start pulling together. Every time we go to the shop, we need to ask if really need to do so. 

What will happen? 

The disruption has only just started, things will get far worse before they get better.  Yet now is the time to start asking questions. Do we want to return to the old way? Thankfully we can communicate with almost anyone else around the world thanks to the internet and mobile phones. It will have to get really bad before those in power shut down our access.  I doubt any western government will risk doing so. 

 

What can we do?  

 First, heed medical advice.                                                                                                Second, look after those closest to us, our families and our communities. We need to skill share for the good of all. Working locally, but thinking globally.
Third, we really need to have a worldwide  discussion. All of us have the power to change to the future. Now is the time to set aside the differences and see the similarities.  Instead of distracting ourselves, or posting memes of cats, let’s have a proper farsighted discussion.
In the words of John Lennon, lets imagine.

The world after the coronavirus is up to us. 

 

 

My name is Alex Small, 48, I live in Cornwall by myself. Read for BA in English with Creative Writing and an MA in Professional writing later in life with Falmouth University. Better known online as The Naked Writer, or the Classicaraddict.  A dear friend who once was a New York journalist, christened me an Honorary New York wise arse, it should be ass, but I’m British.  

   
 

Old Friends.


We sat across from each other. Old friends, once been closer, but over the years a little distance, perhaps more than we would have liked. It had been over a year since we last had met.  http://www.classicaraddict.com/motorcycles-and-renewed-friendships/

Far warmer in the pub, beside warm log burner. Coffee, good and cheap. About 15 years ago when I had my Kawasaki Z1000 MK2 my friend had gone for 15 mins and came back 45 later. He later bought a Suzuki Bandit 1200 and now has a collection of bikes that many would envy. Our shared connection being first bikes and then all things with an engine.  

My relationship with bikes, well motorcycles has always been a lot more  ambivalent. When younger, they were my life, freedom at its best. Yet now, and despite having two in the lock up waiting for me to get around to fix them I don’t ride.  

With the brace still on, we chatted about dealing with injuries as we get older. My friend spoke about driving, and how thankfully when he had his wrist problem a while back, he still could. Likewise, now I can drive again, far easier in Tug (Vitara,) than my MX5, yet I can. http://www.classicaraddict.com/no-driving-for-6-weeks/ 

We spoke about what we missed when restricted. For me it is the water. My friends and I despite all of us growing up fairly close to the wild north coast of Cornwall never really got into water sports. My older brother was one of the local surf gods from an early age. I was never that good and to be honest bigger surf scared me. Yet the water and the beach has always there. I moved to the South Coast of Cornwall 25 years ago, here it was more swimming and sailing initially.  For a few years I had my own little boat, sailing all year and every condition.  It was only 3 years ago I fell in love with paddleboarding.  

I’m writing sitting in Beerwolf Books, Falmouth http://beerwolfbooks.com. Across from me there are a couple of students in deep discussion about post modernism and Marxist theory. They remind me of how I used to belong to that group when I reading for my undergrad. Even then, I approached it from my default perspective of pragmatic cynicism. I belonged, but didn’t when studying. Someone once commented that I was too practical to be truly academic. I think they meant that when using a hammer, I didn’t hit my hand.   

I  can drive, which is truly amazing with my leg in a brace. Most days and timing it for 2 hours before low tide I head to Swanpool beach. There, a little group of regulars surf the gentle swells we get. Long boarders and paddleboarders together. What has really amazed me is people know who I’m, they chat before heading to the water. The last few years have seen an explosion of those of in and on the water. I belong to that group, much more than I expected.  http://www.classicaraddict.com/one-more-wave/

As we sat drinking our coffee, catching up. My friend spoke of touring on his bike and how mutual friends also had done European tours on theirs. I laughed, bikes could never be practical, for how could I carry a board? My travels consisting of looking stretches of water and rideable surf, not too big or crowded.  

Two old friends catching up, seeing the difference yet understanding some things are the same. For him, the open road calls, for me, it is the water. 

 

SAAB TOO FAR…

This is the first in number of short stories best entitled, this really did happen… 

 

LOUD KNOCK…
A loud knock on my door woke me from thoughts… It was 10.30 pm and to my shock there were two policeman…

“Mr Small, do you own a blue SAAB 900 convertible?”

“Err, yes why?”

They then told me that it was now hanging over a wall in a local car park. No, not joy riders but simply the handbrake failing and this was it’s resting place.

Where I live, we play the parking lottery every day. There is a free car park behind the main street. It is steep and despite being mostly rectangular at one end cars can park at an angle. This was where I’d left the SAAB an hour or so before…



Assessing the situation. 

I followed the Bobby’s down and there was my car. Resting on the wall it was sitting partly on the petrol tank and across the back axle. We were all amazed that it didn’t touch another car during its 60ft passage. With one wheel was about 3 ft over the wall. The damage was minimal, yet unless I was careful much more might be done moving it. The police told me that couldn’t get an Hi AB in to pick the car up. Did I have any ideas…

The Saab rolled from where the blue car is parked past the garage on the left to about where silver car is. Quite a distance and how steep the car park is clear.

Solution. 

The SAAB being front wheel drive and those wheels thankfully were on the tarmac… So, in theory I could drive it off… Mentioning this to the police, they expressed concerns about the tank rupturing. As I’d helped my banger racing mates, I knew how tough the tanks are. As it was  a pre General Motors SAAB, which meant the tank was super strong. Also, being an older design, the back axle was about 3ft from the rear of the car, or a lot to catch on the way off.

The police agreed that this was the best option. Then told me to take it gently. I sat letting the car warm up for a couple of minutes. They gave me the OK.

This was the point I dumped the clutch at 4000 rpm. I didn’t see the faces of my audience, but as the rear wheel hit the far edge of the wall the suspension compressed and then rebounded. This bounced the rear of the car up as I planned. Clearing the wall, no further damage to the car was done and with only a few scratches in the render of the wall the police told me not to worry about it. Then came the question of where to park it until I could get it fixed. The only level parking space was taken by a scruffy Triumph Spitfire, my Spitfire…

 

Afterwards

After admitting to owning it the Spitfire, I swapped the cars over and in the morning drove it less than a ¼ of mile to my local tyre and exhaust centre to get the back box replaced. Then my local SAAB Specialist fixed the handbrake. Anyone who has owned a proper SAAB knows that they are very well engineered cars, but it takes a while to learn the idiosyncrasies. So easier to get someone who knows what they are doing than to struggle for hours.

It could have been so much worse. Sadly, the one thing that could kill the car did a few years later. With an odd engine and gearbox design, this was the weak spot, and when second gear went, I drove the car to the end of its mot and then sold it to my mate the specialist.

Oddly this car, despite being well made, comfortable, more economical than expected, very stylish, and with good handling I never truly bonded with it.

Having had another front wheel drive, four-seater convertible, a MK3 VW Golf, that one I still miss. The SAAB, glad I had it, but somehow it was less than the sum of its parts.

Oh, and every time I’m in the car park, I remember and grin.
And the Spitfire has its story… Well lots, but there was one story that relates to this one that will be told.

 

No Driving For 6 Weeks!

No Driving for 6 weeks…  

 

Fog of anaesthetic was wearing off fast. swimming for the surface, mentally fighting the effects of the drugs I sought awareness.  

 

Water was provided, a sip to ease my dry throat. I even managed to thank the surgeon as he left. Then then propped up, hands still attached to various tubes. My leg felt locked, secured, I assumed to ensure that I didn’t move it as I came around.   Fully awake, Tigger was itching to go, porters were called to take myself and the previous patient back to our rooms. Catching a glimpse of her as she was wheeled away, clearly the operation was far harder on her than mine. 30 minutes later the nurses decided to wheel me up, before I made a hobble for it…  

 

There, Rebecca was waiting for me, worry on her face soon replaced by exasperation… Having brought my own food in the form of oatcakes, I asked for them along with some water. A nurse popped in and out a few times, checking I was OK. Apparently, my heart beat dropped down to a level where they wondered if I’d become a tory.  

The physiotherapist knocked and entered, after detaching my arms from the monitoring equipment she pulled back my bed sheet. Rebecca said my face was a picture at this point.  My leg was encased in a brace. ¾ length and clearly meant to be worn for a while. 

I’d been taught to use my crutches before the op to save time. Knowing that I was expecting to have either a piece trimmed away or my meniscus repaired. The two options having different recovery periods. For one the brace would been worn for a few days and the other, weeks… .  The surgeon had repaired my knee, which meant no driving or paddle boarding for 6 weeks.  Needing to keep me in for 4 hours to check that I was OK. A cup of tea was brought and then an oversight on my part. No shorts, so it was time to cut a leg off my jeans, fashion… !  

Compared to when my back and knee had been bad in September this was far less of a nuisance, more a question of logistics…   

Another nurse came in to discharge me, we soon worked out we had a mutual friend in Jasmine, who co owns and runs Daaku. Soon I was up on my feet, rucksack on my bag heading towards the car. As I was leaving the nurse wished Rebecca good luck. 

This forced break means that I’m going to start looking at my using my education. Time to change careers for something a little more financially beneficial. Writing once again, and perhaps having the confidence to submit my work. 

A quick thank you to my Doctor, Mr Mathews the surgeon and all the staff at the Royal Duchy Hospital. We often moan about the NHS, but in this case I couldn’t have been treated better. Thank you.

Suzuki Vitara MOT, 4th Time.

Another year, another MOT…  

Wow, where has the time gone? Can this be Tug’s forth MOT with me?   

At the time I was doing my masters in Professional Writing and had decided to write about what I knewcars.  Well, among other things as well, but classic cars have always been there. It could be said people became hooked on hydrocarbons during the last century.  I was and still, I’m among the worst. Well in regards to cars and bikes anyway. My last post spoke about surfing and car culture. My passion is a mix of situation, work, marital, financial, environmental and my own often dubious mental state.   

The picture of Classicaraddict is just after I’d bought her. I’ve written about this in the past, but it sums that moment the brain catches up with consequences of the latest impulse buy. It didn’t start off well with the fuel filler pipe collapsing the day after I got her legal… 
My friend Nigel recommended that I should look at one. At the time, his project Vitara was a bare shell exposed to the elements.  Tug has changed how I work and after 4 years I’m still constantly amazed about how capable she is. I’m also constantly shocked at the fuel consumption, aside from that, they are just what Nigel said. MK1 Vitara’s are amazing little off-roaders.  
 

Oddly they seem to be creeping up in value once more.  A lot seem to rust like well, Suzuki Jimny’s and MK1 and 2 Mazda MK5’S, (Oh bugger.) Also, because they were cheap, plentiful and good off-road, many got used and abused.   

I do use Tug off-road a lot, but don’t really abuse her. She is my workmate, my colleague, my friend. In the last 3 ½ years I’ve only welded her twice. The first time was around the rear seat mounts a month after I bought her. The second was two years ago and a little around the driver’s side tow bar mount.  Last year when Dan at Dan CB Tyres fitted the exhaust, I checked under her…  We were both were amazed at how good the floors and chassis are.  I know how bad they can rust as Nigel’s didn’t have any floors at the time of me getting Tug.   

Over the years I’ve done the fuel filler pipe, cambelt, plugs, leads, air filter, radiator, exhaust silencer, petrol filter, battery,  two sets of front brake pads and rear shoes. Two clutch cables, one clutch, rear brake cylinders (both sides,) front to rear brake pipe, cylinder head gasket, one injection unit, two internal door handles, passenger external one, both door catches, two passenger mirrors and lots of oil changes.  Oh, and all the transmission fluids. 

It seems a lot, but over those 3 ½ years and 31000 miles, it isn’t.  Checking the old MOT’s, I’m averaging about 9000 miles a year… Wow! A lot of gear is carried which means at least the weight of another full-size adult, and then towing a trailer as well. No wonder the brakes take a bashing… 
In my keeping, she has failed two MOT’s first time and passed two… I always try to prep a car properly and joke it is the only time I get to see the back seats. They are still there but hardly used.  

 

Considering the time frame, she hasn’t been expensive to run. Well apart from fuel…  

Now worth more than the £350 I bought her for. About £800 to £1000 with the fresh mot, if not a little extra at the moment. Apart from fuel, insurance, and road tax I doubt that anything else could have been so useful and cost so little over the years. Now that I have Bel my little MX5, Tug does far fewer longer drives which is one reason I’m shocked at the annual mileage. She is used most days for work and pleasure, often with trailer in tow and paddleboard on the roof.  

There is no reason that she shouldn’t keep going for years to come with a little TLC and I’ll keep her until I change my work and then I’ll struggle to part with her… I’ve never been bored driving. Scared once or twice yes, but never bored. 
The smile is there every time I get in and then it dims a little as fuel is needed again

Thank you Tug, my Spanish lady with a Japanese heart.  
You are the perfect example of a practical classic…

One More Wave

One more wave… 

After the last post, what have I been up too?  

Recovery was slow and it wasn’t until about mid-October that my back was good enough to consider being almost back to normal. The other scars will take far longer and for the second time, my younger brother and I are no longer speaking.  

My knee… As I write it should have been operated on the 3rd of this month, (December 2019.) Sadly, the op was canceled and will hopefully get rescheduled for mid-January 2020. Some nights the pain is constant, on others I can cope. Work is a struggle, likewise doing anything to the fleet is difficult. I changed the front brake pads on Tug, my little Vitara just before my op was meant to happen. A job that normally takes 30 minutes max was over an hour with much swearing and cursing.  

In August whilst taking clean washing from my machine my right leg locked. Stuck, I had to pop my knee and after seeing the specialist it seems I’d torn and possibly detached my right meniscus…  

If my life was not so physical this would not be an issue. Yet walking on uneven ground, carrying off-balance weights, steps, kneeling are. All of which are a major part of my daily routine. At the moment, workwise I can do about 50% of what is normally possible, and then only for 3 to 4 hours before it becomes too painful.  

Thankfully there is one thing that I can do. 

After ringing my good clients in the morning, I’d told them I’d be there for 12…  I arrived at 12.30…  

“One more wave?” was their greeting, we have a mutual friend who got into paddleboarding very early. My clients understand, during the winter, on the south coast of Cornwall we often get rideable surf, not large, but to longboarders and paddleboarders, we can surf it.  

At Swanpool there are now a group of regulars. We have come to trust and respect each other. My weapon of choice, an old 14ft downwind board that turns as fast as supertanker, yet will catch ripples.  

Last year I wouldn’t surf in the pack, now I can. Maneuvering this 14ft board through the group is possible and a lot of fun.  

More than one regular has commented that Swanpool is among the most chilled outbreaks that they have encountered. Mostly free from ego, wave sharing is common, and mutual respect even more so. For a little while, on every wave I’m free, walking the board and reaching back to those early Hawaiian beach boys who reintroduced surfing to the world at the start of the 20th century.  

 

Growing up in Perranporth, on the north coast of Cornwall, surfing culture was a part of everyday life. Summer fashions being a mix of both Hawaiian and Californian.  Admittedly I tried surfing and really struggled. Then went back to bodyboarding. Yet, there in the racks of Perranporth Surf Club stood some of those original boards. Tall and elegant they were echoes of times past.  

Modern longboard type surf sups share similar lines, rightly so. Both those early Hawaiian beach boys like Duke Kahanamoku and the later watermen like Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama used essentially longboards with a paddle when they chose to SUP, (stand up paddle.)

Some aspects of car culture and surf go hand in hand. Hot Rodding originated in Southern California in the late 1930s and exploded into popularity after the Second World War. For instance, The Beach Boys were essentially a group of car guys and not surf ones.  

When I load the board up and head towards the beach the cultures combine. Instead of the woodies of old, now converted vans, for more affluent, VW ones, of course, gather.  

Out in the line-up, the mantra is one more wave and who I’m too argue. Even with my buggered knee…  

Thank you Toni for the pic of me paddling.

You Can Choose Your Friends, but…

Classicaraddict…

What a summer.

For the two summers previously, I got sucked into an unhealthy situation. In the process got manipulated and was accused of some things no decent person should.

Having finally cleared myself from that in April this year I had thought that lessons had been learned… Don’t be silly…

 

For many years I’d not had much contact with either my older or younger brothers.  I think that my older one and I never connected as children, and that continued into adulthood. Yet, over the last few years we have and with his recent change in career from big wave surfer, paddleboard instructor to now a very skilled potter we have become closer. Perhaps mutual respect has grown. I know I’m not surprised by his change in vocation, but very pleased by his passion combined with his talent.  The reason I’m still here is largely down to him. If it wasn’t for paddleboarding, I’d have become another statistic in the last couple of years.

 

My younger brother is a different matter. Whilst there is 2 ½ years difference between my older brother and I. There are only 14 months between myself and the other one.
A little too close for comfort and not helped my dyslexia which was not diagnosed until I left school. This meant that my very intelligent younger brother was often slightly ahead of me regarding school and such like. Making an already difficult situation far harder, yet things became more complex again.

It can be said that the lesson’s learned when young are carried forward to help create the adults we become. None of us were angels, far from it. Yet, my older brother and I did learn a lot of positive ones. Later in life, they have certainly helped him become someone that I’d be proud to know as a friend, let alone call my brother. Hopefully, he now says, “yes, he was right brat as a child but has turned out OK as an adult.”

 

My younger brother and I got into a lot of shared trouble, in an ideal world we would have each other’s backs, but the world is far from ideal.

What comes next is my personal narrative or my own version of events, so it will be full of bias. The imperfect nature of language, memory and my own choices of how to express those will ensure that it is pure fiction. Outside a few very specific areas truth is at best subjective…

My younger brother and I did get into a lot of shared trouble… The lesson I learned was that no matter what was done I’d get the blame regardless of if I was responsible or not.
There was one occasion that involved an upright piano key. He dropped into it and I did not. Yet when found out it was assumed that it was my fault, he never owned up.  Far easier to let another take the blame, to lie. I still did tell stories as a young adult, that was until my life became strange enough never to make another thing up.
I also made the choice to change,  we all have it, sometimes it is the only thing we do have.

After 6 years at the beginning of June, my younger brother and I got back in physical contact. It would have been nice to have had time to slowly build the bridges. Yet suddenly there was a plan for him and his daughter to move to the north. I did my best, yet a week before they were due to move my knee popped. Luckily, I have a good doctor who I’d seen the last time about depression two years ago. He paddleboards as well, and as I was waiting to go in, my elder brother’s wife messaged to say that they had found a 14ft board at the bottom of the garden and it was mine if I wanted it… Try talking to a doctor about depression when all you want to do is go and get another board. When I did go in this time, he said that having seen me paddling regularly he never worried about me returning the last time. The result of this was he quickly referred me for an emergency appointment about my knee with a specialist and then advised me not to drive 450 miles and unload a van load of my brother’s stuff.

If it had been anybody else, I’d taken his advice, but due to deadlines and family pressure, I did the journey.

That was almost a month ago and the repercussions are still occurring. My mother and brother expected me to have dropped everything and focus on ensuring the move, regardless of what else might have been planned workwise or socially. Why? Family of course.  Sadly this reminds me of the person I finally got out of my life in April and my ex-wife. The way strings are pulled and unless things go exactly how they want, the reasons why it doesn’t is always someone else’s fault.

With a little distance, each new accusation becomes like a beat from a bad piece of music. I hear a bad impression of Vin Diesel saying, “but we are family….” In my head.

 

I had a choice, it has cost me a lot physically, financially and emotionally.

After traveling up there on Bank Holiday Saturday and making good time there was no one to help unload. Normally this would not be an issue, but with a buggered knee it was. In the process and after finally getting help my back went into spasm. I faced a choice. We filled the van up with diesel and I headed home. 920 miles in a day. The next few days I’d never felt such pain, even the most basic tasks were beyond me. It was total, and it meant that I couldn’t work or help my brother clear the rest of his house.

I’m self-employed, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

Yet the drama continued.  It seems like the other’s I have known.  My brother seeks to blame everyone else rather than take any personal responsibility.

Today, on my mother’s birthday I got effectively disowned and after not speaking to my younger brother following a few choice words 3 weeks ago it seems that I might have been able to bring his stuff back from the north next week. After messaging him the response was F ck Off you Sociopathic    C nt.  I can but ponder the potential and unintentional irony of his statement, in this he reminds me once again of that person from my recent past.

 

Now like Max at the end of Mad Max 2, I might be battered, beaten up, yet I’m smiling. I have a choice, as the dust settles, I choose to ensure good people are in my life. I know others who have suffered far more yet somehow still smile. Those people have a light even after being swamped by darkness. We all have choices and those inspirational people remind us of that.

What choices will you make today?

 

Oh, and the reason I’m going north next week… A friend is moving to God’s own country, (Scotland) and has asked me to drive her in a VW Crafter camper van. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it…