Friday, 23 February 2018

Smell...one of the senses

As I sit and write this tears are in my eyes as some of my late husband's favourite music is playing. I was okay whilst the rock and roll played (I had a jive with the door handle), but what finished me was 'At Last '.....so my senses are still attuned to memory. Such it is with the sense of smell .

Aromas can quickly transport us to a different place, a different time.....a distant forgotten memory wells up from the past.

Smells can be uplifting. Recently its been that faint aroma of spring growth. It's not a perfume. It's more subtle. It's a newness. A reawakening. It lifts the soul and gladdens the heart. The weight is lifted from our shoulders and we shrug off winter's heavy mantle. Each season has it's 'smell'. Warm summer days smell of warm undergrowth. The evenings bring a tang of the sea (if one lives by the shore) or a peaty scent from the mountains. Autumn brings faint smells of decay, that is intense when we kick through the leaves under our feet. Winter is fresh and tangy. Does cold have a smell ? Well anyway we wrap a scarf round our mouths and are enveloped with the smell of the damp wool as we inhale.

Sensory gardens are wonderful for partially sighted persons (in fact for everyone). Each season brings different perfumes and the gardens are planted specifically with scent ...and texture...in mind. As many plants don't exude their perfume until they are brushed or crushed.

As for myself , I have a favourite perfume - Bronnleys English Fern (not available now as I've searched high and low ) ...but I have a stash stored away and the products are used on special occasions. It has been my favourite since I was 17, when I received it as a gift. So that takes me back to those teenage years, those early loves, those days when I didn't visualise getting older!

My father was very proud of his garden, which was laid to the growing of vegetables, with flowers relegated to the front garden or under the kitchen window. Every year he sprinkled 'stock' seeds and on warm winter evenings the aroma would drift into the house.

 Of course not all smells are pleasant and we quickly wind up the car windows if they are muck spreading! As individuals we can find different aromas pleasant or not. For me I can't stand the smell of parsley - especially when being chopped. This wasn't much good for a cookery teacher. I actually find the smell nauseous ! I don't like 'heavy' perfumes and often have an allergic reaction manifesting itself in serious sneezing. So again that can be difficult in the dance hall!

Cooking smells can make us salivate and in fact improves digestion and enhances the eating experience. It's complimentary to express "That smells good", to our hostess.

Animals use smell and they have a much keener sense of smell than we have. Search and rescue dogs use this when working. They greet each other by sniffing. It's thought that some dogs and cats can detect illnesses. My disabled friend has an assistance dog who detects when he is about to have a Potts attack and brings the medication. So just how ?? Do we give off some change in chemicals that alerts the dog ? It's a science still under review....

My poem today was written in 2014 and is about the senses.

     THE SENSES

      That certain piece of music
      Evoking distant memories -
      Childhood, family, dancing,
      Love, despair, laughter, grief.
      A tune stored deep in my soul
      Steps forward - makes me remember.

      That aroma briefly caught in the air
      Evoking distant memories -
      A forest, a building, a person,
      A love, an ocean, a cut lawn.
      A perfume stored deep in my soul
      Comes to mind - makes me remember.

      A touch, the sensitivity of my fingertips
      Evoking distant memories -
      A pet, a garment, a wall., a tree,
      Tall grain, a lover's skin, seashore sand.
      A sense stored deep in my soul
      A feeling recalled - makes me remember.

               
 
My picture is of gorse which grew in profusion on the cliff below where I used to live and smelt of
desiccated coconut......

Thanks for reading..breathe deep... smell the coming warm days ! Kath

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Smells - From Childhood Memories


I lost my sense of smell some years ago but I’ll always have the fragrant memories on instant recall.

We were on an overnight stay at one of the pubs I’d lived in as a child, The Peels Arms in Padfield near Glossop. Any changes have been for the better and it still has the ‘olde worlde’ charm and warmth that my late father adored in the only proper country pub to be included in his long list of establishments.  He had two favourites, this one and any pub on Blackpool promenade. Once inside, the familiar smells were with me, furniture polish, Brasso and the sticky-sweet mingle of lemon and cherries at the bar. Upstairs, the smell of green Palmolive soap filled the bathroom along the corridor and also our en suite, exactly as I knew it should. Whenever I think of The Peels Arms, the fragrance of Palmolive comes to me. A less welcome odour from those childhood days was the silage pit on farm land at the top of the lane. It was an amazing adventure playground for children, even though it was out of bounds and the farmer always chased everyone away. I only went there once and I remember the great fun my eight year old self had, jumping from the stone wall into the soft, springy, stinky wet grass and getting all green and messy. And what a hiding I got, not only for playing in the silage but for denying I’d been there.

I wear perfume and I like to indulge myself with lovely bath and shower crèmes, but the scent is non-existent, just in my head. I like delicate fragrances, Dioressence, Miss Dior, Rive Gauche and nostalgically, Faberge’s Kiku.

Having no sense of smell has benefits sometimes. I don’t notice anything unpleasant and while others are wrinkling their noses and reaching for some air freshener, the reason is lost on me.

I met someone recently who had been through the same treatment regime as me, chemo, radiotherapy and medication. We discovered we shared the same side effects, including the loss of sense of smell.  This was the first confirmation to me that chemo or radiotherapy or a combination of everything could be responsible.  Maybe in time it will return.

When I was a young child, I enjoyed spending some of the school holidays with my paternal grand-parents. They didn't have a pub, they had a bungalow which fascinated me and my Nanna Hetty was either sewing at a treadle machine or busy in the kitchen.

My own poem,
 

Hetty’s yellow kitchen in the sunshine,

Smells of scrambled eggs and baking

The most delicious Parkin loaf

And currant buns for the taking.

Carrots and peas and Bisto gravy for

Yorkshire puddings and Sunday roast,

And she made my favourite breakfast,

Peanut butter on perfect toast.

I loved to have a dot of Pond’s Cold Cream

From the top of Hetty’s night-stand

And sniff the flowery fragrance

Rubbed in on the back of my hand.

My Nanna Hetty, how I adored her

And loved her looking after me.

She passed away when I was eight

Leaving me love and memories.
 
 
 
Thank for reading, Pam x

 

 

 

Saturday, 17 February 2018

The Colour Purple

Along comes the fifth blog of the week about the colour purple! Are you sick of it yet?

What can I add? I know it's the title of a Pulitzer prize winning novel by American author Alice Walker (1983) though I must admit I've not read it; and it's the subject of a very witty poem by Jenny Joseph that has received some additional welcome exposure via the Dead Good Blog page in recent days.

As it happens, purple was the dominant colour of my school uniform as well - actually, purple and black striped blazers, caps, scarves and ties; purple and black rugby and hockey jerseys and stockings; pure purple blazers for the prefects; purple and black bruises for poor tortured pupils.

It featured large in our hippy lifestyle of the early '70s. Many a pad or bedsit was painted purple (along with more black and smatterings of red and orange); I must confess to having sported a pair or two of purple velvet loon pants in my time; and somebody once told me that I have a purple aura - but I tend to dismiss that kind of talk.

Enough of the superficial stuff. We shall deep-dive on the subject and discover an amazing purple netherworld...


What you're looking at is a stupendous undersea colony of 'Dragon Eye' Zoanthids, a particularly colourful and allegedly dangerous variety of coral.

Let's get the taxing question of whether they are animal, vegetable or mineral out of the way first. If you were to plump (following good panel show protocol) for 'animal with mineral connections', you'd be pretty much spot on. Zoanthids are animals, simple polyps which can accrete small pieces of sediment (sand, rock) into their beautiful structures as they go about reef-building on bedrock. Consequently they are among the most durable corals as well as being some of the most glorious to look at - akin to an underwater flower-garden.

When it comes to diet, Zoanthids are hybrids and sustain themselves by a combination of photosynthesis and by capturing animal matter: plankton, krill, brine shrimp and bloodworms (yeugh).

As to the danger these beauties pose, some species of Zoanthids contain palytoxin, one of the most toxic organic substances known to man and mermaid. Concentrations of the venom vary by species and experts argue as to the health and safety threat posed to human beings who come into contact with Zoanthids in the sea or in aquaria. Aquarists are advised to wear gloves when handling these corals as most damage is done when the toxins enter the body via broken skin. The majority of Zoanthids would probably only cause localised skin irritations - but given that one gram of the most deadly Zoanthid venom is enough to kill over a hundred grown men if administered intravenously, it is wise to be cautious and to know what you're dealing with!

You'll be happy to hear I've not attempted a poem based on any of the above (though Purple Zoanthus, slayer of bloodworms did hold a momentary appeal and eventually suggested - somewhat obliquely - the battleaxe in today's poetic effort).

I've risen to the challenge of finding rhyming words for purple, supposedly difficult to do (though not as tough as rhymes for orange, apparently). Some of the words were pre-existing (though archaic); others are newly coined by your Saturday blogger. (You could have some fun figuring out which is which!)

I never imagined I'd write a poem about Miss Marple, of all people, but here it is for your reading pleasure. I hope it both amuses and makes some kind of sense:

Crazy Jane* Does Jealous Rage
Looking homely as a curple
locomoting with a hirple,
Marple stomps in tweedy surple
out among the purple heather
as some most inclement weather
rends the sky.

Saturated to her nurple,
she keeps up a keening churple
fit to summon up a whirlpool
on the spectrum beyond blue
as indigo shades into a violent hue.
The reason why?

It seems the town of Weston Turple
will be twinned with Oudekapelle,
home of Monsieur Poirot, Hercule,
Belgian sleuth of high renown -
so crazy Jane must plan his comedown
on the sly.

* with acknowledgement to W.B. Yeats

Thanks as ever for visiting the theatre of my mind. Have a good week, S ;-)

Thursday, 15 February 2018

The deep purple falls.....

Unlike most bloggers this week I am not fond of the colour purple . I have never been fond of that range ...from mauve to purple. When I was 16 I made a lilac crimplene skirt with a blouse to coordinate (the blouse was in cheesecloth type fabric with multi coloured flowers). Well, I wore it once and I did not feel good all the day! Ever since I avoided that colour range.

My late husband abhorred purple too, referring to it as funereal....much to the annoyance of a friend who relished in decorating her home in various shades of that colour.

Having said all that I recently made a dress in crushed velvet-- it's the colour of the wrapper used for Cadbury's chocolate. Does that class as purple?  I think it has a blue tint to it. This time I'm quite happy to wear the said garment, as it's warm and ideal for winter wear.

Sorry to be so contrary, everyone.

PS ...last week I bought some Scottish tweed, in a heather mixture. NO , it's not purple...

Sad to say I've no poem about purple- except if it refers to heather! (and I've done all those on the blog in times past). So no poem this week..sorry.

Instead I've searched my photo albums and come up with this...enjoy on this winter's day.


Thanks for reading my small contribution, Kath.

The Colour Purple - worn with pride.

The word 'purple' comes from the Old English word purpul which derives from Latin purpura, in turn from the Greek πορφύρα (porphura),. For centuries, the purple dye trade was centred in the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre in modern day Lebanon. The Phoenicians' “Tyrian purple” came from a species of sea snail now known as Bolinus Brandaris, and it was so exceedingly rare that it became worth its weight in gold. 9,000 molluscs were needed to produce just one gram.

Roman Emperors chose to wear purple to reflect their power and the wealth of the Roman Empire. The colour was worn by rulers throughout the ancient world but also became associated with spiritual and religious leaders. 

Famously Queen Elizabeth I refused to allow anyone outside the royal family to wear it. Sumptuary laws during her reign regulated and restricted the colours and fabrics that could be worn by the different English classes. Purple attained regal status and it was not until the mid-1th century that a scientist experimenting to find an anti-malarial drug found a synthetic way to make the colour that it came into popular use.

All this brings me seamlessly to my own connection to the colour purple.  I attended Elmslie Girls’ Independent Grammar School here in Blackpool, founded by two sisters named Brodie and sited on Whitegate Drive in a substantial double-fronted detached house.  The school grounds were filled with Elm tree (hence the school’s name) and also abundant with crocus every spring, from which came the splendid purple and gold of the school uniform.

Attending an all girl’s school had its ups and downs. The atmosphere was great. Sports were very competitive and many students excelled in music, sciences and the arts. I hazard a guess that this was probably due to a lack of distractions by boys but it was also due to a great sense of camaraderie and identity.

The uniform was distinctive. A deep purple blazer, trimmed with gold braid and a brimmed, purple felt hat with a taffeta band adorned with a fabulous enamelled badge bearing the Red Rose of Lancashire and the crossed keys of St Peter, topped with the bishop’s mitre.  I really wish that I still had by hat badge. If anyone has a spare please feel free to contact me. 

On the downside, we Elmslie girls were affectionately called, The Purple Virgins. Needless to say that I have no comment to make on that score. I know what I know and I promise ladies my lips are sealed. We have a code of honour. We have a school song with a Latin motto. Attending Elmslie was a little like being a student at Hogwarts. We had our secret passageways, spooky staircase and archaic sick bay too.

I am proud to have been an Elmslie girl and loved wearing my purple regalia. It carried a certain kudos and on through my lifetime it has opened a few select doors.  I am still in touch with many of my school friends and as 2018 would have been the school’s centenary, (sadly it closed over a decade ago and the building has been converted into luxury apartments), we are celebrating with a weekend of events in May.

Hundreds of former purple virgins will be gathering in Blackpool in the spirit of friendship and reunion that we sang in the school song so many years ago.  Eat your heart out J K Rowling.


Omne bonum, dei donum

Is the motto of our school

All good gifts they come from heaven

To be grateful is our rule.


Midst the splendour of the elm trees,

In a shady place and cool,

Towering up above the branches,

Stand our much loved Elmslie School.


Omne bonum dei donum

Omne bonum dei donum.



Joys and sorrows both are known there,

Battles are both lost and won.

Fearlessly we all press onwards,

Happy when the task is done.


When our schooldays are behind us

And fresh duties we pursue,

Memories then will crowd upon us

And old friendships we’ll renew.


Omne bonum dei donum

Omne bonum dei donum.


"It matters much more what a girl is than what she does, and if you have learnt to work hard, play hard, keep faith, forget self, help others, you will have begun to be, in the highest sense of the word, a useful member of society. I would remind you of the famous words, "To labour and to love is the sum of living".

Miss Elizabeth Brodie
July 1928


Thanks for reading. Adele

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Always The Colour Purple

I can’t think why,* but I was asked whether I wanted to come back as a guest blogger this week.....
 
I’ve always loved the colour purple. I think it might be something to do with it becoming popular during my formative years. The richness of the different hues of red and blue, blended together, has always appealed to the artist in me.
 
When I was fourteen I got myself a Saturday job at Dakins, a local grocers. I was allowed to work four hours only, as I was under 16, but those four hours (and the 10/- wages) began to open my eyes to a whole new world. There were no uniforms - this grocer was obviously ahead of his time as the tiny shop was already being converted into a ‘self service’, unheard of in suburban London in the sixties - so I was able to hone my (slightly outrageous) fashion sense without fear of reprisal.
 
The colour purple - along with lime green and orange - was really in vogue at that time. Perhaps it was a kick back at the dull browns and beiges of the war years, but whatever the reason, those colours immediately jumped out at me and became instant staples of my Chelsea Girl wardrobe.
 
Poor Fred, the grocer, probably dreaded those Saturday mornings. I would turn up each week in some different combination of bright purples, greens and oranges, and spend much of my time ‘out the back’ supposedly filling a basket to replenish the shelves, but actually looking at my reflection in the darkened windows, adjusting the length of my mini skirt, pushing up my 30aa bust and retying my leather thong sandals, whose laces were supposed to end at my knees but frequently fell down to gather around my ankles. I apparently considered these outfits totally suitable attire for a young shop assistant, up and down ladders and bent down at low shelves.....
 
It came to the Christmas do which was to be held in a local hotel. I needed to push the boat out and catch the eye of the handsome young delivery lad who, up to that point, hadn’t given me a second glance as he dashed past on his way to the kitchen - more interested in getting the best cake than eyeing up the mad Saturday girl.
 
My mum, as always, came up trumps. She was going to make me a shift dress (oh Mary Quant, eat your heart out!) It would be purple, and it would match the flat purple Mary Janes that I’d seen in Dolcis. Coloured tights had not yet seen the light of day, so American tan would be the stocking of (very little) choice.
 
I have a black and white picture of all the Dakins staff. Fred is in the middle. I am at one side, looking shy. Handsome delivery lad is about as far away from me as he can get. When I look at the picture I remember nothing about the night apart from the conversation I’d overheard as we gathered together for the photo. Fay, my adopted grandma figure, had tried to persuade HDL to stand next to me - with a bit of a nudge nudge, wink wink - much to my embarrassment. The only part of the conversation that I heard clearly amongst the muttered response was, ‘I hate purple....’ That was the end of that little romance before it had even begun.
 
I did have a bit of a run in with the colour purple a few years ago. It was icy and I’d left the house to buy a new kettle. At the top of the five steps going down our path I slipped on a thin patch of ice and bounced down the whole flight, whacking my backside on each concrete edge, landing at the bottom with a final crack of my head and my phone flying across the garden. I crawled over to the phone and rang my husband, crying. The bruises that appeared over the next few days were spectacular - every one of those popular colours from the 1970s - and a few more thrown in. I had yellow, brown, green, orange - and of course, the inevitable purple. The bruise covered the whole of one cheek of my backside - and that’s no mean area.
 
I made the big mistake of sending a picture of this monstrosity to my daughter, who not only showed it to everyone she worked with but promptly posted it on Facebook. When I subsequently had to go up to the hospital to have it checked my daughter offered to come with me. She was about to go to work and was in her police uniform, which obviously confused the medics, who seemed to be under the impression I was a criminal being escorted. When the consultant was about to examine the bruise he asked me if I wanted the PC to leave. I told him wearily that it was fine - she was my daughter and had already made me (or rather, my behind) quite famous online....
 
*If anybody’s interested, Crazy Color Hot Purple, Crazy Color Pinkissimo..... I might be an OAP but I’m not going down without a fight....
 
 

And of course, the only poem that can possibly go with this piece is Jenny Joseph’s which I have always loved for obvious reasons.... 

When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Thanks for reading.....Jill

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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Colour Purple - Red Hat?


“When I’m an old woman I shall wear purple…”
My friend and I said this in unison then giggled like girls. We were in the back of our friend’s car, picking up another friend to go out to dinner. The four of us had previously worked together for at least ten years until the fourth friend, older than the rest of us, had moved away. It was always lovely to meet up again. This time she stepped out wearing a purple coat and a flowery patterned mauve scarf.  My friend and I didn’t mean to be rude, we simply shared a thought out loud.
I’m becoming increasingly fond of the colour purple, so maybe I’m already there age wise. My favourite used to be a deep, berry red, not quite burgundy. I considered it to be rich and warm looking, where purple was flat and made my complexion very pale.
 The purple thing started with my hair, ages ago. I wanted a bold colour under my longish three shades of blonde. I wanted to be very trendy for a forthcoming Moody Blues tour, so my first choice was blue. It would only be seen properly when I wore my hair up, and the colour would just peep through when my hair was over my shoulders. My hairdresser put me off, explaining that the blue would quickly fade to an unflattering grey. Red, then, I’ll have a deep red, to match most of my wardrobe. I liked it until someone was concerned that the back of my neck must be bleeding. Someone else suggested chestnut brown was very classy under blonde, but everyone has brown and I wanted individuality, not classy. Somewhere down the line, purple turned out to be perfect. It was very me, the flash of purple in my long hair and my red shoes, always red shoes. I kept this fashion going for years, until the approach of my sixtieth birthday.
I wanted a new look to mark the occasion and there were other things happening that year including the birth of our first grandchild. I was beginning the next era of my life, being someone’s nanna. There are now three beautiful grandchildren to dote on, but this was then.
The main decision, or rather, mistake, was the short hairstyle. Goodbye to long, blonde locks and goodbye to purple. It seemed a good choice at the time, but the next day I was back in the hairdressers, unhappy that it wasn’t right, and then a few days later I was in another salon with my tale of woe and having some improvements done. Reminder to self, I cannot style my own hair so keep some length and keep it simple.  I’m a few years on now and wonder about having the purple hair again. Who said ‘With age cometh wisdom’?
I have some purple boots, which I love and some purple-ish jeggings which don’t match with them but I have my eye on some dark red pixie boots. I think I’m ready for a red hat now, as well.
 
Jenny Joseph's poem,
Warning
 
When I’m an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens.
And learn to spit.
 
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
 
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
 
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.
 
Jenny Joseph (1932 – 2018)
 
 
Thanks for reading, Pam x

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Of Cars And Men...

I could almost be singing in paraphrase of Steinbeck or Virgil - but I'll leave the somewhat bombastic literary allusion just hanging there and get on with the blog. Our theme this week is cars. For Blackpool, it could only be the TVR (aka the Blackpool bomber or seaside sports car) and the men who have made and driven the marque in its various incarnations during the best part of sixty years.

Blackpool's iconic TVR (350i Tasmin from 1980s)
Here begins a short history lesson, none of which I knew before I came to live in the jewel of the north. It's as chequered as a racing flag. Apologies to any automobile experts reading my trimmed-down resume of TVR's stop-start journey through the decades. I've kept it brief for general consumption; and for anyone not really interested in cars, I urge you to stick with it. By the way, I drive a Vauxhall Corsa! Although I enjoy driving, I find that getting from A to B reliably, comfortably (with a good sound system) and economically is good enough for me.

TVR is reckoned by those who know and care to be one of the most prestigious of independent British car makers. Indeed at the height of its success it was the third largest specialist sports car manufacturer in the world - and it was based in sunny Blackpool.

Founded in the town in 1946 by local lad Trevor Wilkinson, Trevcar Motors gradually evolved into TVR Engineering and by the early 1950s was producing its first 'kit car', the TVR sports saloon for DIY enthusiasts. It retailed at £650. TVR sports cars began to gain a reputation on the racing circuit and in 1955 new investors made possible the acquisition of larger premises in Layton, Blackpool, which move coincided with interest from America and the launch of the TVR coupe.

Feedback from the American market led to changes in styling and the next venture was the Grantura, a fast-back sports car with a Coventry Climax engine and leather upholstery which was well-reviewed in Autocar magazine in 1959. The real problem for TVR was production capacity - it was only managing to complete one car per month and the order backlog was growing! With more staff (increased to 43) and a new production manager throughput improved but the changes led to the departure of TVR's founder. More attention was then paid to TVR making a name for itself on the international racing circuit but that proved a costly venture and coincided with the American importer defaulting on payments in late 1962. The workforce was laid off and TVR moved into receivership (not for the last time).

A restructuring and financing deal gave it a new lease of life for some months but by the end of 1964 the company went into liquidation. Arthur and Martin Lilley purchased the assets of TVR to mitigate their personal losses of TVR shares and a new era was born. Success would have to be achieved by bringing new marques to market and so the TVR Tuscan and Vixen were launched upon the swinging sixties, TVR's fortunes began to rise and the company moved to larger quarters in Bristol Avenue (see below - photograph courtesy of John Bailie) where production rose to between five and eight cars per week!  

New vehicles outside the Bristol Avenue factory in Blackpool
In a publicity move that would be rightly frowned upon today, nude models were hired to disport themselves on the bonnets of TVR cars at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1970 and 1971, a ploy which drew international attention to the vehicles but nearly got TVR banned from the event.

The company continued to grow throughout the decade. Order books were full with the Vixen, Taimar and the M series proving popular in both Europe and America. The Tasmin (pictured earlier) was intended to consolidate TVR's reputation into the 1980s but its high price didn't sit well with the recession that hit the UK at the beginning of the decade and with TVR once more on the brink of financial collapse, the Lilleys sold out to wealthy Blackpool businessman and TVR customer Peter Wheeler.

Wheeler was at the helm for the next twenty years, overseeing the emergence of some of TVR's most popular models - the Griffith (2,300 built), Chimaera (5,200), Cerbera (1,490) and revamped Tuscan (1,700). He finally sold the company as a sound concern for a reputed £15 million in 2004 to Russian businessman Nikolay Smolensky. (As a footnote to the Wheeler era, when he died his wealthy widow Vicky married Karl Oyston of Blackpool FC infamy.)

There had been talk at the turn of the millennium of grand plans to move TVR to new premises (see the artist's impression below) but the reality was more sobering. Behind the scenes, Smolensky split TVR into a number of companies - smells like asset-stripping spirit? - one of which, Blackpool Automotive, held the factory and manufacturing assets. By the end of 2006 it was in administration. Half-built TVR shells lay degrading in overgrown yards. The Bristol Avenue premises has since been demolished.

The dream that never materialised
However, that's not quite the end of the story. In 2013 Smolensky sold his ownership rights to a new British company TVR Automotive. In 2016 it was announced that TVR would build a new factory in Ebbw Vale with investment from the Welsh government and a new marque of the TVR, dubbed 'God's own sports car' is set to be unveiled this year as the latest TVR Griffith, positioned as a rival to the Porsche 911. If you need to ask how much it will cost, you probably can't afford one.

It's a sobering tale, for sure, an account of the decline of British manufacturing industry in miniature; and a small part of me is momentarily sad that TVR is not part of Blackpool anymore. So it goes for boys and their toys, but real livelihoods have been lost in the process.

Before you read this week's poem (a twist on the tale of the 1970 Motor Show as I strike a blow against sexploitation), I need to tell you about an American colleague of mine on assignment in London in the 1980s who wondered why people in the office smirked every time they walked past her desk. It had to be explained to her that the little book lying on top of her in-tray was the culprit: 'Everyday Fanny-Shaping Exercises'. We culturally sheltered Brits didn't realise fanny was merely American slang for the posterior (of course).

Okay, this is still a work-in-progress requiring a bit of fine-tuning, but here's the Mark 1 version:

Sex Objects
I'll thank you
to shift your fanny off my bonnet.
What would your mother say?
You've got it all on display,
for goodness sake!
You're a naked distraction
to the main attraction -
which is supposed to be me,
by the way.

What's that?
It's not a competition?
All the boys love a fast car
and a curvy girl?

Who are you fooling?
Get out of here
you shameless hussy!
This is about my body
not yours,
so stop cavorting on my chassis,
it's just pervy.
Put some clothes on
and skedaddle won't you?

Let the people see the product.
With my mighty V8 engine, water-cooled,
ceramic brakes, heated seats,
tinted windows and leather tooling,
I'm the model to set them drooling;
you just need to catch a taxi home.

Thanks for reading. Keep your hands on the wheel. Happy motoring, Steve ;-)

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Cars - Driving Is Fun


My father loved his cars and nursed his Jaguars like they were babies. He polished them inside and out and tweaked engines until they sounded perfect to him. Before joining the Licensed Trade, he was an engineer for many years and still liked to involve himself in machinery. Wherever we lived, he always had a meticulous work-shop set up. I was very much a ‘daddy’s girl’. Wherever he was, I was, as much as possible.  That would usually be down the pub cellar, in the garage, work-shop or in the car park. I inherited his fondness for cars.

I had a cherry-red Tri-Ang convertible, my favourite colour at the time. I copied my dad. I polished the bonnet until it gleamed and tapped the tyres. My car didn’t have the twiddly, interlocking bits that make an engine and it didn’t need the smelly liquid that Dad poured down a funnel into something under his car bonnet. I could get it going very fast round the car park and I didn’t scuff my shoes that much, despite what my mum said. I had that little red car until I grew out of it.

Dad bought me my first real car when I was seventeen. It was an Austin A40. His choice, not mine. I would have gone for an emerald green convertible Ford Capri. Anyway, his choice for me was perfect and for sensible reasons like low mileage, and easy to manage. He taught me basic car care, checking oil, coolant, windscreen washer levels and tyre pressures.  Some things were learnt through necessity, like how to remove, dry and replace spark plugs, how to liberally spray WD40 or similar and how to use jump leads. Driving was fun.

I had my A40 for about five years and it served me well. I only parted with it when my grandfather gave up driving and wanted me to have his nearly new, very low mileage Hillman Hunter. I think he’d only used it to take money from his pub to the bank and take my grandmother to Chorley Market once a fortnight. It was a lovely car and I kept it for a long time.  It was the last of my decent cars for ages. 

One of my cars was at least fifty shades of green, which didn’t matter because if I wanted to cover up another blemish, any green would do. It only cost me £50, which was probably as much as I could afford at that time. I was driving along Garstang Road having turned off the A6 one night, yes,it’s always night time when something goes wrong, when the bonnet flew up. It scared me to death. The catch had broken off. I limped it home at no more than ten miles an hour, the bonnet down, but threatening to fly up again. By the time I sold that particular car, Dad had more or less replaced everything in the engine, piece by piece as each breakdown related to something else. I sold it for £50, the same as I’d paid for it. The person buying it wanted the number plate.

Another car went ‘bang’ at the top of Crossley’s Bridge and rattled all the way down the other side, freewheeling.  Reconditioned engine required.

A car that I really liked, but turned out to be a very bad buy, used a great deal of oil and the repair would be more than the car was worth. At that time, I really wasn’t any good at buying a car on my own.

I’ve had decent cars again since those lean times. I fell in love with the Nissan Micra when it first came out in the early 1980s and currently, I’m on my fourth. I haven’t owned anything else for thirty-odd years. Recently I handed over the keys to my sister who is more than happy to use it for me. I don’t like to drive unless I have to these days.

The next car I buy, sometime quite soon, will be a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe and other things similar for my grandchildren to play with in our garden. It feels like I’ve come full circle. I’ll watch out for them scuffing their shoes.
 
High time for one of my own poems.
 
 
      My Cars
My first car, Austin A40,
Not so trendy at seventeen,
But solid and reliable.
I wasn’t sure but Dad was keen.
 
I would completely trust his choice
To buy a decent car for me.
Clean and tidy, and low mileage,
The A40 just had to be. 

Smart saloon, the Hillman Hunter,
Grandad’s car, his pride and joy.
Well looked after, fully serviced,
Now mine to care for and enjoy. 

Pink Floyd in my Humber Sceptre,
M6 motorway late at night,
Flying solo in the fast lane,
A ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ delight. 

Let’s salute the Vauxhall Viva.
A quiet ride and cheap to run
When the bonnet’s been mended and
Work for the MOT’s been done. 

Huge mistake, my Austin Maxi,
It had stereo and looked cool.
I always had the jump leads out
And it supped as much oil as fuel. 

How I love my Datsun Violet!
It never, ever failed to start.
Trav’ling every day to Preston
‘Til its bodywork fell apart. 

I’m on my fourth Nissan Micra,
I’ve run them for thirty-plus years.
I keep them until the scrap yard
Means Journey’s End – and lots of tears.
 

Pamela Winning 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Mountains Of Morocco

There is a saying that faith can move mountains. For faith, read belief and fortitude.

Yesterday Karl Oyston was finally stood down as chairman of Blackpool FC after a few notorious years. Such a move may be mere trickery on behalf of the House of Oyston or it may be a genuine sign that the Oyston massif is on the slide. Blackpool fans certainly hope the latter is the case. We shall know more in the next couple of weeks, which promise to be eventful.

One of the most amazing locations I have ever had the good fortune to visit is Marrakesh. I've commented before on how much I like the contrast between sand and sea and the evocative borderline between the two. In Morocco I felt a third element had been added. To have snow, sand and sea in such close proximity was something quite special and the old city of Marrakesh was pivotal, lying as it does on a sandy plain between the snow-capped Atlas mountains and the shimmering coast.

Marrakesh with the Atlas mountains as back-drop
Heat and cool, arid and green, flat and towering, sandy and snowy, not to mention the changing qualities of light - Marrakesh offers breath-taking contrasts on every side; a magical and inspiring location of which the mountains are a key element, both in terms of scenery and climatic impact; a truly lovely place. If you've ever visited, you'll know what I'm on about. If you haven't, it's a treat in store should you ever decide to go Morocco bound.

Today's short poem is in tribute to the High Atlas, a mountain range named after that titanic giant of Greek mythology...

Hi Atlas!
Keep it up, old chap.
It's a prodigious feat,
your shouldering of the sky
that wheels
from rose to blue
to blushing tangerine
then starry black and back
diurnally.

That it might
never fall in upon us
mere mortals here below
because of your titanic efforts
to keep this stunning diorama
in its appointed place,
we offer grateful thanks
eternally.


I wanted to link to some music again this week and was in two minds as to which to choose: Graham Nash's Marrakesh Express or Paul Kantner's excellent Mountain Song. In the end, because it's my birthday, you get links to both.

Crosby, Stills & Nash: Marrakesh Express
Paul Kantner: The Mountain Song

Enjoy and thanks for reading, S ;-)