Your continuing notes on the motoring adventures of O.J. reveal much fascinating detail of road conditions in those far off days. The novel mentioned in the July issue to which he took exception wad undoubtedly “The Fast Lady” by Keble Howard, published by Ernest Benn in 1925 and quite hard to find, despite going through at least 9 subsequent impressions. It concerns the adventures of the hapless Leonard Rabbidge and the rather superior Muriel Levendale on a honeymoon tour of the West Country, the other main character is the Flick (Flamingo Lighting and Ignition Co ) a fictitious two seater of some antiquity, which could be based on any number of Edwardian light cars of the more plebian type, the Pick maybe?
Our hero meets the car through a ‘friend in the trade’ at the premises of Milton and Poppett’s Garage, Peckham Rye. Harry and Ted are the essence of the 20’s Garagiste the various parts of the Flick are exhumed assembled and praised- “This ‘ere engine is ten-‘orse pahr Water-cooled. pre-war design. She’ll do forty mile per, and never turn a ‘air. All the work and mater’II in this car is pre-war. They don’t make cars like this terdye simply ter the reason as they ain’t got nor can’t get the meter’ll. The only way as they can get it is ter take it off another car same as this ‘ere”.
The book is full of droll humour, after a crash driving I ourse. literally. Leonard takes to the road. A reluctance and inability to change up to second limits him to the heady speed of 8 mph. Numerous escapades and near misses ensue, the streets and roads are populated with urchins. homely policemen and obstinate horse and cart drivers. a splendid book although one can understand O.J.-5 criticism such a supporter of the new motoring’ would not welcome the levity. good natured or otherwise, levelled against the brotherhood of the road.
Daventry. MIKE HILL
Vintage postbag, July 1962
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