Guides, Salesmen & Rust – Week 4 : 2022

A drive into the Yorkshire Dales provided an unbelievably beautiful moment. When breasting the top of Buttertubs Pass. The gloom, at 2.5°C, was broken by two large shafts of sunshine as they shone down through a break in the clouds. This windy pass is special as it was on the 2014 Stage 1 Tour de France route. 

I have been searching for something to fill in a bit of time and certainly on a part time basis. It had to be something I’d enjoy and use a bit of brain power. My good friend Peter mentioned a job that he’d done as a tour guide. He was connected to a UK company and so I put my name forward, was interviewed and accepted. I think my being the age of some of the guests, quite organised and being able to rattle on about most things was a benefit! My training starts in February. The arrangement is that tour companies like Jules Verne or Explore sell Yorkshire or Northumberland short holidays. They ferry people around on a mini bus stopping at the many sights. My employer is a charter for these tour operators. I’m passionate about our great county of Yorkshire and the Northumberland coast, castles and Hadrian’s Wall are also treasures. Everyone I know is concerned about my ability to be ‘nice’ for six straight days. Anna is even more concerned that I am prone to gesticulations, and worse, with other road users. Obviously I don’t recognise these possible failings. I’ll be fine.

I was passing through a cemetery and saw this. She is the only woman to receive the George Cross in peace time and the youngest female. The George Cross is a very senior award. She couldn’t escape the burning aircraft after the chute she’d pushed the passengers down caught fire. She dies of asphyxia. Some things make you feel so humble.

The BBC is to lose the licence fee. This led to many tears on social media and many BBC employee were pointing out that £0.43/day is surely nothing when you think of what you get? I think those who’ve grown up with the organisation would possibly exalt the Beeb (as many do the NHS.) However, the debate is not about my age group. I think our daughters give the veritable institution little or none of their time, maybe ‘Call The Midwife’? News, music, sport, drama or entertainment has been migrating over the decades to the internet fed channels and stations. The end was signalled some time ago. There are some BBC radio stations we all must admit we have never listened to. There’s maybe much of the BBC to retain in whatever model: subscription, advertising or reduced licence fee. Like the ‘High Street’ the internet may have found another victim.

In a week where I got a new car I also came across a photo of an identical car I first owned. My new car, my first in seven years, is a BMW 320i estate. My first car was a white Triumph Herald. There are 56 years between the two motors. The hand over of the new car took over two hours despite the fact the deal and monies had been sorted out a long time ago. Most of the two hours was filling in paperwork, sending texts to each other or waiting for the salesman to paddle about looking at my part-ex or trying to find a way to expedite payment for a service package (for his own personal advantage no doubt.) In fact, of the time spent, about 20+ minutes was spent sitting in the car whilst a kindly technician went through the mind boggling intricacies of the dashboard electronics. Just about most things, including the windows, can be operated by voice. By the time this was complete it was dark and I had to drive off into rush hour Friday night traffic. Not ideal or a bonus of the customer experience. Irrespective of what make or model of car you buy then there is always something deeply disappointing about the sales process. 

My first car’s registration was KPF 587C. The technology was none existent apart from a choke. (Answers on a postcard what one of those is please.) The car was one where you could lift up the bonnet and feel you might actually have a clue as to what to do to solve a problem: nowadays I can just about work out how to refill the screen wash. I had this car, starting in 1973, at Ealing Technical College and then at Manchester Polytechnic before selling it in 1978 to someone I worked with at Aveling Marshall in Gainsborough. Like all 60s British cars it had chronic corrosion issues. The passenger footwell filled up with water and any girlfriend was well advised to wear wellies on a night out if it was raining. The front of the car was all one piece (above the chassis). It was a massive bonnet that opened the opposite way to how bonnets open today (like the E Type Jaguar). The bonnet corroded to the point of nearly falling apart and I was lucky to get one of the last all steel replacements. There was a lesson to be learned for life in not selling a car to someone I knew! I sold it to a work colleague and it shortly exhibited brake problems where after pushing the brake pedal it could slew violently to the left (brake fluid was leaking onto the brake drum.) Not great when approaching a corner at speed. I had to work with the chap who bought it and needless to say he looked at me with a lot less affection thereafter!

The best of Twitter

A friend who has become a grandfather was elaborating on the appropriate address for the child when they could speak. He’d been subsequently christened ‘grandpa’ and his wife ‘nana’. On the latter he had rubbished his wife’s moniker as being a ‘bit council estate’. I did comment this is what I called my grandmother! However, I digress, as I raised this important matter with my first wife to discover that all this had been discussed and she was to be known as ‘grandma’. As for me I do wonder at what age the child will be able to say ‘Mister Ives’.

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