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…

Classicaraddict Meets Classic Britain.

 

Classicaraddict met Classic Britain…

Before Christmas, I stumbled upon a Youtube Channel called Classic Britain. First what attracted me was the content, the presenter, Sheldon was clearly a grade A Petrolhead and his scruffy Rover P6 (Kismet) is a really interesting car. After a little while, I also worked out they are based in West Cornwall.

The Mentor… 

Oddly we never get to see Sheldon, but we do get to see Lucas,  his friend, and Mentor.  Their friendship is clear to see, and infectious.  Lucas, smart, funny and has lived a life. He gives no shit’s about what others think. Yet, and having met him and his charming wife, what is clear, they are both good people.  Caring about those who are privileged to enter their world.
He also knows his stuff when it comes to old cars.

 

Man Behind the Camera.

Now I will admit that on air, Sheldon comes across as far older than he is. From his voice, I’d of said he was late 20’s or early 30’s… Right up until the point he got in  Bel and I suddenly realised he was in his early 20’s.  Sheldon is one of those characters who have a power to them, a good-natured force of nature. Others become attracted, his passion infectious. They start chatting, remembering times past. More than once, someone came up and spoke to us as we worked on Kismet, the Rover. In this way, he reminds me of my friend Jess, who at 20 decided that a 1957 Morris Minor was his ideal first car. They share a strange magnetism that makes others want to help, and perhaps remind us of who were or could be once more.

Sheldon and those around him have an old-fashioned sense of decency that is sadly passing into another time. Perhaps being based in West Cornwall, helps, for time does more slowly down here. We have a different culture and the rules that go along with it.

Classicaraddict met Classic Britain, not for the last time…

Magic Moment.

The rider was leaning slightly forward as the large bike swept around the corner towards us.

I was about 14 years old and a passenger in my mothers’ car. That rider on that sunny afternoon in Cornwall has defined motorcycling to me ever since.

This was mid 80’s and the bike as an older Kawasaki Z1000, painted matt black. The rider was wearing Doc Martin’s boots, black jeans, old black leather jacket,  gloves, shades, open face helmet and the biggest grin I’d ever seen. The speed was not excessive, but enough to be making progress. He was riding for pleasure, fully present to every aspect of the moment.  

I’d already started helping my mother’s friends husband restore vintage, veteran and pioneer motorcycles. This was before at 16 that I could ride on the road. At this time, we lived in a bungalow in Perranporth, there was a private lane system from the bottom of the hill to the top. This was relevant because it meant I could legally ride the moped I acquired after saving up from my paper round. One moped led to another as addiction finally found a way of expressing itself beyond every magazine and book I could lay my hands on.

One of the sons of mechanic opposite came past one day as I was tinkering. He was a good guy, but in the past had taken something that affected him. He knew what was lost, and that it was down to him. Yet, he was a gentle soul.  We greeted each other, and then he gave some advice that has stayed with me ever since.

“Stick to the bikes, once I used to ride, now I can’t.” He spoke with sadness and wisdom.

Oddly 10 years later I was meeting friends in Perranporth, at the time I had an orange Triumph Dolomite 1500. I had been enjoying it fully and she smelt of hot car, warm brakes, etc.
As I parked, I heard, “It just had to be you, didn’t it…!” There was my friend who had given me the advice years before, with a smile on his face. I grinned and waved. Clearly, I’d listened to his wisdom and that moment I hope showed my appreciation.

There are times that help define, guide and create our understanding. Those two very different ones have stayed with me. 

Bel, MX5 Update.



Now that I’m writing again, it is time to do an update on the fleet. The first is Bel, my little MX5.  So, after 8 months…

Small. scruffy red sports car on top of a hill overlooking a wild beach Cornish beach with waves crashing in.
Bel near Porthtowan

First, I never intended to buy a sports car, but then that goes for a lot of us… In other blogs, the buying and MOT process has been covered.  Since then we have shared about 3000 miles. Some longer trips, once even getting caught in the snow and of course lots of local driving.

Bel has proven to be remarkably reliable, well to anyone used to a British sports car she would be. I can feel confident even after leaving her for a week or so she will start up. For a cheap car, one that was saved from the scrapyard, this is amazing. After checking her fluids, she is safe to drive 500 miles.  And each one will be with a smile, roof down most of the time. Cruising at the legal maximum without strain. Even a lower spec 1600 is plenty fast for the overcrowded roads of Britain. 

Here in Cornwall, on the narrow lanes, she has the right combination of speed, power, size, and grip. Every mile is a grin and when safe, even with narrow 14inch tyres she can carry a lot of speed. Her heater makes going top-down easy on the coldest of days. Yes, we did get caught on the edge of the snowfall. After my Vitara had passed her MOT in the morning, I was asked if I could do a Penzance to Newquay airport run. No problems, except I’d not checked the weather. As we went around the Hayle bypass we started to notice cars coming towards us with snow on their roofs, this did not bode well.  As we headed towards Avers roundabout near Redruth the snow on the ground started to get thicker. I made the decision to come off the A30 and either drop my friend off at the train station or go and get Tug, my little Vitara.  This being Cornwall, no one had any idea of how to drive in the conditions. Once we managed to get up the slope, I had worked out that you can drive an MX5 in the snow if you are careful. After dropping my friend off at the train station I popped the roof and tried to fight my way out of Redruth. With traffic moving slowly the technique I found was to go from grippy spot to grippy spot. sometimes resting her rear wheels on speed bumps to get a little momentum on the gentle hill. Bel seemed to be connected to my nervous system. The feedback was amazing. We managed to climb out of Redruth and carefully drop into Lanner, by the bottom of the hill the snow had cleared. If I wasn’t impressed before, I really was now. We had become a team. We were even spotted by a couple of friends, roof down…

You don’t drive an MX5, you bond, become one.

I’ll cover some of the work and the non-performance upgrades I’ve done in another post. In an earlier blog, I covered my favourite 5 cars I’ve owned. The best being the little Triumph Spitfire 1500. That spot is now shared, with Bel, my MX5.

They share the same essential essence.

And rust issues…

Finding a Unicorn Car for a Friend.

I’d put it off for far too long.  Early January and my friend wanted to replace his very high mileage Toyota Yaris with something a little better.  To be fair, we found him the Yaris about 5 years before and it had provided amazing service yet now at almost 200000 miles, the end was nigh. That amazing little engine had developed a death rattle…

Over the last year or so my friend had mentioned how he would like a 4×4. Now I’ve had Tug, my little Suzuki Vitara at that point for 18 months. So, I do feel that  I can comment. The trade off for 4×4’s is the extra weight of the internals, extra driveshafts etc… That some have separate chassis, the fuel consumption is bad. They handle worse on road. Now if you have a use for one, like I do, they are amazing… But.

I’d already talked him out of a Jeep Cherokee… Too big, expensive to run, and Jeep reliability.So not ideal. 

At this point. I thought I’d put him off the idea… Yet, once again here he was asking me to help. We are good friends, what could I do? The gardening doesn’t really start until the first full week in the new year. So first it was research time. The only choice that really covered the bases was another Toyota, this time the Rav4. Oh, and just to make life a little more interesting, my friend wanted an automatic.

Why a Rav4? Simply because Toyota made its best cars from the 1990s to the middle of the first decade of this century and they were the most reliable in the world.

We both live in Cornwall, which means that once you find a car, the chances are that it will be at least 2 to 3 hours away… I found a couple of auto MK2 Rav4’s listed, one near Taunton, the other near Bristol. The closer one had just been sold, the seller in Bristol didn’t get back to me… Facing a dilemma… Then I found an MK1 Auto Rav4 at a dealer in Honiton, in the pics it looked really clean… My friend now was in a meeting for a couple of hours… So I rang the garage, explained the situation. They said they would hold it until 1 pm.

We left at 1.30 in Bel, my little MX5, roof down, of course.

The garage was a Rav4 specialist with mostly MK2 models. There in the furthest corner, she sat. Clearly had not been moved since before Christmas. Her body looked clean, and underneath, for her age, she was amazingly tidy.  The salesman came out and was about to start her, but I got him to open the bonnet. First, I placed my had on her engine, it was stone cold. Then a quick check of her fluids, all looked good… As I was doing this, I explained what I was looking for and why. The salesman made a joke about dodgy second-hand car dealers. Then he turned her key and she burst into life. No smoke, no hassles.

I jumped in and we set off on a quick test drive that included a blast down the nearby A30. She ran like a dream, at first the brakes ground a little, but that was just the surface rust coming off. We then swapped seat and my friend had a little drive.

Thumbs up…

We left with the car an hour later. I fear my I might have inflicted my friend with the classic car bug. We drove home in convoy, Bel in front and the Rav4 that now had been named Phoebe following. Inside I felt a sense of relief. I’d pulled another out of the bag.

My friend Andy with his new purchase…
Phoebe and Bel at Victoria Services.

Finally, Live, What Next?

Classicaraddict, why live now? How did I become the Classicaraddict, what has been going on in the very large gaps between posts?  Now it is live what do I intend to do with Classicaraddict?

Classicaraddict came out of the first few weeks of my master’s in professional writing.

We were asked what we really knew, arguably what we could be considered experts in… Now my friends would think, making a mess, perhaps bull sh tting, etc, etc. The lecturer assumed I knew about gardening. She was initially very dismissive of me and any idea I had.

Historically I’ve avoided writing about my automotive addiction. Perhaps considering it too easy, or maybe I’m just stubborn…  But, elsewhere within Classicaraddict hopefully my hands-on passion does show. After she accepted that I might know a little about the subject and that my local nick name of Petrolhead Alex was not meant ironically. She then used her very real publishing wisdom to guide me into a more traditional blog form. 

Of course, I ignored her and started creating this blog. About this time we had a tutorial on creating a specific blog site, during this I had a brainwave. Being dyslexic has its advantages sometimes, which when combined with instinct can lead to novel ideas. I always remember as she spoke about the importance of domain names the idea for the name Classicaraddict came about. She was very dismissive until it was clear that no one had misspelled it quite that way. Arguably it looks better than the correct way to spell it with the two c’s next to each other. There was a little a thawing between us as I quickly hoovered up the name and created the blog.

The lecturer was away the following week, during which I had bought Tug, my little Suzuki Vitara on impulse.  The following week was funny, as she asked each one of us what we had been doing for our blogs. She got to me, and of course, I  said, I’d bought a project car. Very classicaraddict.

I  even won her with my content, she said that my style was different to most and that it could lead to a publisher being interested.

The gaps are perhaps best explained with  the link to another blog, https://westcountrywriter.tumblr.com/post/183847615524/paddle-boarding-why.

Why live now? This one is much simpler.

Unless I can hit it with a hammer, I struggle to make IT work properly. The blog was there but I couldn’t share it on social media. When I asked for help it didn’t arise and as I was struggling in other areas it was one more thing that fell by the wayside. It  doesn’t mean that I wasn’t still owning, driving, breaking and fixing my little fleet, it just meant that I wasn’t writing about it.

What’s next?

This one is little more difficult, yet after two other blog sites have closed along with all my and other’s posts, I’m going to continue writing and publishing on here.

There are post’s I’m due to write on my little fleet.  After finding a friend an immaculate 1998 Toyota Rav4 auto in January this year, expect a few posts on that car. I’d also like to explore other aspects of owning an older car and the importance for instance of the friends we make. I’m going to start looking at doing Vlogs… But first I need to learn a little about that.

Finally, there is another idea to do with automotive history that I will try to launch here. But that is a story for another day.

Thank you for reading this and please feel free to comment below.

Alex Small , aka Classicaraddict.

There is a postscript to this.
I just want to say thank you to those kind souls who have comment on some posts. Your words of encouragement and support mean so much.

Thank you.