Matters of Moment, February 1968
The Back-Britain Crusade
With this small Island plagued by Devaluation, strikes, political unrest, mounting crime, foot and mouth, the influenza epidemic, freak gales, unstable trains, uncertain government, unrealistic speed-limits, savage taxation and other calamities, the Back-Britain campaign is opportune, if not considerably overdue. We as a nation are suffering from political uncertainty. Should we link with Europe, substituting vino and the omelette for beer and Yorkshire pudding? Should we be better off as the 51st State of the U.S.A., drinking canned beer or Coke and eating tinned food? Or should we follow Beaverbrook and continue as a proud if run-down land, with the inhabitants lazing in the sun and dreaming of a glorious past? Also, in the land of the mini-skirt there is precious little sun. . . .
Sooner or later we must decide whether we want to be a “flat-twin land,” “an all-power, all-automatic V8 state,” or remain a stolid individualistic “four-cylinder country.”
While we remain as we are, it may seem common sense to buy British, thus convincing the rest of the globe (and outer-space when it becomes interested) that we still make very good products indeed. The only worry is that we were brought up to believe that we could sell coal profitably abroad providing we bought de Dion Boutons from Puteaux; what will happen to our exports in 1968 if we stop importing foreign goods?
Providing, however, a balance can be struck, there is every reason for supporting the Back-Britain crusade. Certainly, efforts should be made by Britons to work harder, make better goods and give better service to customers wherever they may be. (A good example of proper service facilities are those provided in London by VW, with all-night working, waiting-room, station-transit, hire cars and even breakfasts available.) During those years when this country was winning the Second World War Motor Sport ran a series of articles on “Great British Achievements.” The British craftsmen who made such achievements possible have handed down a legacy which enables us to build thoroughly worthwhile cars, which, with some powerful propaganda and by setting the good example of using them ourselves, we should be able to sell throughout the World.
The Rolls-Royce is the finest status symbol there is and consequently one of our most valuable home and export assets, although we suspect that it is this and no more to those disc-jockeys, pop-singers, TV actors and sex-book authors who contrive to earn £50,000 in a year, whereas in the days of the Silver Ghost the people who bought these cars did so primarily because they wanted the finest means of road-travel obtainable – which may be one of many reasons why we are in our present mess. But, whether bought as status symbols or nice possessions, British cars are eminently exportable, from the ingenious Issigonis Minis to the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow of unchallenged excellence. From our smallest sports cars to the Jaguar E-type selling in America for 5,634 dollars. When Britain possessed more than just a remnant of Empire the Bentley had an enviable reputation as a race-winning car of high quality and good road-holding (sic.). Today the Empire has almost gone but the Lotus Elan is not only very fast and very safe but is definitely race-bred, in the F.1 field, where Lotus-Cosworth and other green cars dominate almost every race.
This is the kind of thing we have to tell the World. As a leading Sunday paper (while publicising a foreign car!) remarked recently, now more than ever before will car makers need the help of the Press in selling their wares. Other countries make good cars, too. Other countries need British steel, wool, aeroplane engines, sports cars and Rolls-Royces, etc. If we go all-out to make such products faultlessly, publicise them tirelessly, and sell them effectively, we may pull through. . . But not if we encourage or even tolerate government which considers civil servants before service and hampers our great motor industry.
A Lack of Courtesy
When we were very young it used to be a matter of common courtesy to reply to a letter within days, at most within a week of receiving it, whether to thank someone for a gift or to confirm a million-pound order. In the Civil Service “our obedient servants” regarded this as a way of life.
How different it is today! On December 11th we presented to Mrs. Castle that Petition which 280,000 people had taken the trouble to sign, asking her to review British speed-limits, particularly the motorway speed limit. This was accompanied by a letter, handed in by the Rt. Hon. the Earl Howe, emphasising the weight of this Petition.
Apart from a formal acknowledgement, nothing more has been heard about it. Mrs. Castle hasn’t replied. Soon there may be an opportunity for these 280,000 people to put, not their signatures, but just a cross on a piece of paper. When that time comes Mrs. Castle may wish that, instead of completely ignoring them, she had given us the courtesy of a prompt reply, and the explanation for which over a ¼-million signatories are waiting.
Brooklands Society News
Membership continues to grow. The bad weather and need to consolidate organisation have precluded any meetings and in this context it must be remembered that this is a Society, not another club, and that it was never the intention to hold regular or even very frequent gatherings. But discussions are taking place as to the most appropriate way of actively launching the Society. We deeply regret the death, last winter, of Mr. Dicker, the well-known painter-on of racing numbers at the Track.
The latest Member to join is F. Vernon-Jones, who raced a Coulson-J.A.P. at the Track in 1922, winning a handicap race and who, at the age of 60, sets an excellent example to all Brooklands enthusiasts, by preparing his 1937 Alvis Speed 25 for this season’s sprints and hill-climbs.
The Armstrong Siddeley O.C.
Following a Committee Meeting, David Goode relinquished the position of Secretary-General of this Club. Meanwhile, those wishing to contact the Club should write to R. J. Tredwell, 120, Wilkes Ave., Bentley, Walsall, Staffs or to A. Scholes, Meadow Head, Walshaw, Burnley, Lanes, pending the appointment of a new Secretary and Treasurer. Incidentally, a Sapphire which looks derelict stands outside a workingmen’s club facing Hersham Green.
The Things They Say . . .
“The roads without speed limits.” – Jim Clark in an interview with a French sports writer, in reply to the question “What do you like about France?” A refreshing change from Stewart’s views some time ago.
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“I do not think this is a crime and the only thing I can do is to give him an absolute discharge.” – Sheriff A. K. F. Hunter, when hearing a case against a person who warned approaching drivers that there was a radar trap ahead, as reported in the Scottish Daily Mail. It is a further reminder that the Law operates more leniently in Scotland than it does in England.
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“At a Local Government Board inquiry into an application for a 10 m.p.h. speed limit on motor cars at Clapham Common, Balham, and Tooting, it was stated that the Chief Commissioner of Police was of the opinion that no useful purpose would be served by a limit, but that if speed were reduced it would inevitably lead to congestion, which, as statistics showed, was the greatest contributory cause of accidents.” – From The Autocar dated May 3rd, 1913, which shows there is nothing new under the sun.
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“In this car, which has such useful and unusual features as built-in roof rack points and a steering wheel, I found few design faults.” – The Glasgow Herald reporting on the Peugeot 204.