Things To Do … Apart from Sailing (Unpublished Story From 2006)
Yes, strange as it may seem, there are other things to do apart from sailing. Being
a bit of a petrol head no doubt inspired my family to come up with my birthday presents
this year. Both came to me in the form of envelopes. Not very exciting I hear you
say but you would be wrong.
Lyn's envelope contained an A4 cryptic message ending with an anagram. Two reads
later I cracked it. Lyn had arranged a three day trip to the Monarco Grand Prix,
staying in Nice. This, of all the Grand Prix's is the most exciting, glamorous and
potentially dangerous. A 'must see' for all F1 fans and something that I've been
banging on about going to since I climbed out of nappies and stepped into my first
pedal car. Lyn even said she was coming with me … and not a mention of all those
designer shops, or am I being cynical? I mean what's wrong with a Ferrari T shirt!
Noel and Abby's envelope just enclosed a photograph of a drop dead gorgeous 1966,
Series 1, 4.2 litre E Type Jaguar fixed head coupe finished in British Racing Green.
My favourite car of all time and every red blooded male's idea of heaven on wheels.
What I expected next was a model in a box but what they gave me was a second envelope
which explained that the Jag in the picture plus a three night stay in a delightful
hotel on Dartmoor was all mine (and Lyn's). I'm not often lost for words but I was
at that moment. Me, an E Type, a blond and a hotel, I think my kids are trying to
lead me astray! That being the case, lead on, that's what I say!
P.S. I've driven quite a few cars over the years but nothing compared to the E-Type.
It's fantastic condition completely belied its 30 year age. Everything worked perfectly
and the 4.2 litre engine was as powerful as the day it was built. Its overall length
and turning circle left much to be desired and were amongst the first things to come
to terms with. Another was the heavy steering at low speed and the brakes, which
although efficient didn't have 'the bite' of modern ventilated disc units. The clutch
and gear change were 'industrial', again compared with modern transmissions.
Don't get me wrong, none of these things are criticisms, they are what driving a
classic car of this vintage was all about; but if there is one memory I will take
away it must be people's reaction to the car. Everywhere we stopped people wanted
to look at it, photograph it or talk about it. It was a people magnet. A design icon
that even today stands head and shoulders above its peers. It was a privilege to
drive such an automobile!