When one is asked about personal memories of past happenings it is difficult to avoid the “I, I, I” element. So perhaps I might explain that while I am grateful for, if surprised at, the recognition I have been accorded as a motoring writer I would much more have liked to work on and drive cars competitively. Maybe laziness made me a ‘spanner-fool’ and any competition aspirations I had were killed by lack of capital and the war, the latter as I was starting to borrow cars to drive.
The “I, I, I” factor is intruding, but I thought to tell how I knew! was no mechanic. I’d gone to Prescott in an A7 Special which gained a serious mechanical mis-noise. I had hoped the friend with whom I shared our cars might help – I had romantic reasons for wanting the A7 reliable. But he was busy, so I did the job, replacing the camshaft drive pinion myself, which I fitted without losing the valve timing.
When Tom Lush arrived to fix the engine, I told him proudly, “I’ve done it myself” He said “Did you remember the tab-washer?” I didn’t even know of it, but if not replaced the camshaft drive is in danger of slipping. Before that I decarbonised the camshaft of my 1922 Rhode and failed to retime its valves. Tom again came to the rescue. I truly envy those who work on cars, and especially those who race them.