WB Rumblings, December 2005

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The picnic-like VSCC event at Madresfield Court, with driving tests on the long drive of the house which inspired Evelyn Waugh when writing Brideshead Revisited  (can we have a rerun of the TV version, please?) and where speed trials once took place was an enjoyable occasion in September. Michael Crehan In his 1922 5-litre Fiat made best performance, with a loss of only 43 points, and that well-known competitor Maggie Shapland with her 1925 10/23 Talbot won the Ladies’ Trophy with a loss of 88 points. Commendably, with a loss of only 15 points, John Brydon on his 1896 Salveson steam cart took the Montagu Trophy.

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One thing I missed in life for many years, until I bought a 1929 Sunbeam, was substantial running-boards. They are quite comfortable to sit on at picnics when the supply of chairs is inadequate, they can be used to carry a tin of spare petrol (if this is not now illegal) and a piece of extra luggage if you can secure it. They can sometimes fend off minor side bumps by careless cyclists, and as you get older they provide an extra step when alighting. Also, if at a race or sports meeting the crowd is in your line of vision, you can walk round to the other side of your parked car and stand on them to see over the heads of those in front. How on earth do owners of modern cars do without them?

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The New Year’s Day meet of the BMW OC will take place on January 1, 2006 at the Royal Oak Inn at Much Marcle near Ledbury. Last year it was attended by 800 people. The club’s meetings continue at the Trumpet Inn on the last Thursday of the month.

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Once upon a time I used to do a ‘Cars in Books’ item, at first in fiction, trying to identify the makes of cars authors had disguised, but then finding real cars in biographies and autobiography of more interest. I have just found a very apposite reference in the biography of Sir Patrick Hastings (Heineman,1948). The famous advocate and Attorney-General tells of the big open mahogany-bodied Hispano-Suiza he had, which attracted so much attention that he parked it round the corner from his residence in Shepherd’s Market in London, outside Michael Arlen’s flat. This annoyed Arlen, who, in revenge, said that this was why he made a fearsome Hispano the hero of his book The Green Hat.