Location: marengo, il, United States

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Morning Chair

My greatest disappointment this morning, after pounding keys yesterday, and then posting the preceding laborious story, comes from within the confines of my very own Comment section. Two, actually. No, wait: there are three!

The first is the failure of anyone to show any knowledge of what a Morris Garage might be. Darn. That hurt me bad. After all that effort, too. Cut far into and beyond the common quick, what or wherever that might be located. I can envision lots of blood, not to mention rent clothing.

Two is a trifle. Blogger is acting the unruly and discordant bitch today. I tried deleting one mistake-riddled reply I made, only to have her start prattling on in another world while ignoring my wish altogether. I tried asking nice repeatedly, but she snipped back, after a longish wait on my part, “I did that already!” Well, she lied to me, dammit. Or she lives somewhere in denial of truth. Or maybe she comes from a long line of auto mechanics.

(I considered seeking out a lawyer for counsel, but lawyers are another bag of wet worms)

Then three is the blunder itself; the unloved and perspicuous typo.

Hello, everybody. It is a nice sunny day here in Hoohooville. Enjoy the drive.


Blogger Ned said...

Well, I know what it is now, now that you made me think about it, which has caused a very severe headache btw, thank you very much. Of course, now I see why you had to have it. ;)

12:59 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

The car you refer to is, of course, an MG, standing for Morris Garages (note the plural). This fact is so well known to all Brits (of which I am one) that I had not thought you were hoping that someone might ask regarding this item. The company that made these cars began as an outfit servicing and repairing the products of another company, Morris, which made small and cheap cars for the general public. That is the reason for their odd name and, when they decided to start modifying Morris cars and turning them into sports cars, the appelation was shortened to the initials only: MG.

The MG sports cars were very desirable motors both before and after the Second World War and it is one of these that you refer to, Way, from your mention of running boards, a feature that the cars did not have from the MGA (early 1960s)onwards. I do not blame you one bit for wanting to own one of these cars. They are the epitome of the true British sports car, being reasonably fast, very quick around corners and dreadfully uncomfortable (they can also reduce an expensive hair-do to shreds within seconds as they should always be driven with the top down).

Happier now, Harry?

1:35 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:35 PM  
Blogger The Author said...

I no knot of what ewe speak.

Please, take a minute to read
and vote for "Jodi & Andrew" on the site mentioned there. We'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

1:59 PM  
Blogger Ned said...

I liked my comment better. It wasn't as longwinded and I only posted it once.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

(chuckles; I see Gone met my faithful handy BlogBlog lady-friend)

Of my hundreds of great comments, Gone, according to the gal at the door, you alone (and perhaps Yerson) I knew would get the reference. Before girls and cars and lengths of rope, my consuming hobby in those days found me hunched over a desk in a dim-lit bedroom, surrounded by airplanes that hung by strings from the ceiling, sat parked on shelves or bravely flew, mounted on their plastic stands. Revell made the best, in my opinion, and with the finest details imaginable.

An old Sopwith Camel was a favorite, followed by an F-80 fighter jet, my first. I added a hand-painted stagecoach drawn by overworked horses, and then a tank with working treads and movable turret, and guns.

A Ford tri-motor with rocking skis won a prize in some local contest, replete with a salt-for-snow landing field and an igloo. Then two cars came along. One, a green Chevy work truck, had removable sideboards to hold its load. The doors worked also. The other, our beloved MG with its history included among the directons, gave me such an appetite that it still gnaws at me today.

Let the wind blow. Let it break down often, I don’t care. That machine was designed to fit both my soul and my insignificant ass.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Boutros, Boutros by golly. I went and voted, mainly because you two need better than an old charred mattress.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Ned, the gal counting at the door is half-blind, but ain’t she a cutie, nonetheless?

2:28 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

.oO(I am fast coming to the conclusion that Way is actually a cardboard mock-up of myself supplied with cunning interior clockwork to make it move and a tape recorded message from the headquarters of Hereunder to deceive us into thinking it can talk. There is no way two normal human beings can have this much in common. That business about Revell is all part of a cunning ruse: everyone knows that Airfix made the best models....well, if you were British, they did....)

3:35 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

.oO(Ned has obviously never suffered from the dreaded repeating postals. I reckon she carries a bottle of Tums with her...)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

I removed the repeat, by the way, Way. Heck I sound like a doting cat owner: does kitty-witty want its din-dins then?

3:39 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Cor, mate! All we knew out on the prairie about the UK was of some silly squabble over tea the pommies tried to harbour. Plus we sent them our Ben to simmer things down and maybe give Sammuel Johnson a run for his own money, so we figured the place would shape up some day. See, I never got a fix on Airfix. Did you push sisters down steep stairs, as well? And teach a brick to eat raw carrots? Cure a wart with willow? Learn to hum while whistling along in harmony?

4:09 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Last I saw, Ned went to the car, sporting a cap.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Ned said...

I suppose it would sound like the ultimate in me-tooism if I were to say I used to build model cars with my brother. I think the only one he let me paint was the '63 Buick Riviera. On the other hand, he was a good brother, he let me clean his room every week and do his laundry.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Take the keys away from her, Harry. Last I saw, she was racing past Gone Away Towers with three police cars after her, lights a-blinking.

Of the pastimes you mention, most I did, except we cured willows with a wart.

What a thoroughly noble brother you had, Ned! ;)

5:05 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

.oO(If this is the three Blogateers, where is our D'Artagnan, the wondrous Owl?)

5:08 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

By the way, Way, I am happy to inform you that I did it myyyyyyyyyy way.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

ooo, does that sound mysterious.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

The owl had company today.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

And, seeing that Gone Away Inc. went public today, that is singularly appropriate: we both had company...

7:20 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

It being a Friday and there being very little happening in Blogdom at the moment, I decided to allow myself a third glass of the red wine I take in the evenings, for medicinal purposes only, you understand. The technicians at Gone Away Towers were all asleep and the lights had dimmed somewhat, there being some sort of a problem with the illuminated Chameleon sign overhead, and I thought to myself: what an excellent opportunity to get out, have a look around and visit a few old friends. So I did.

Now, the corporate headquarters of Hereunder have begun to seem a bit testy at my voluminous contributions to their enterprise so I considered it more prudent to spend a few hours with old Way, a man who is unfailing affable and never slow to enjoy a good chinwag. It occurred to me, too, that I could maybe flirt a little with the dusky maiden he has placed at the door to his abode, the better to keep tabs on those who come and go.

It is for this reason, dear friends, that I now find myself deeply ensconced within the comfortable depths of Way's favorite armchair. He seems to be out and about at this moment and so I am free to light a cigarette, blow smoke rings and reflect upon the day's events.

You will have noted, no doubt, that today the good Way has brought up the subject of model airplanes (or aeroplanes for any from the old country listening in) and cars. Even the magnificent Ned has chimed in with a confession that she is no stranger to such weird and wonderful fascinations. It is for this reason that I feel it incumbent upon me to reveal just a little more of the sinister and shadowy Gone past.

You see, good readers, I who was Gone, and still am, was once a model maker of ridiculous proportions. Like Way, I had a misspent youth, indulging my passion for the miniaturized with many hours of happy glueing and sanding and painting of the usual plastic models. My crowning achievement of those days was a Boeing Flying Fortress, a B52 I believe the Americans called it, a truly wonderful beast of many turrets and turning propellers and the like. But this was early days.

Through the ensuing years such passions were dimmed in the dawning light of adolescence, when the mysterious allure of girls and real cars enforced their attractions on me. So it was not until I had children of my own that the bug of all things small began to bite again.

And here I find I must explain a peculiarly British phenomenon to my American friends. I speak of Scalextric. At that word I know all British hearts reading this will now be a-flutter. Scalextric was and remains the highest achievement and ambition of every good British child and the secret icon of desire of every decent British father. It is, in fact, the best system of slot-racing model cars ever devised. And all British fathers, on the occasion of their son's third birthday, when they might conceivably be capable of grasping a hand controller, will buy, as a present, a set of the mighty Scalextric.

No matter that the son will only be able to hold down the trigger constantly, thus sending the car screaming off the track at the first available corner; the truth is that the set has been bought for the father. In pre-adolescent dreams he has lusted after one of these and now, thanks to the convenient excuse of a son, or even a daughter if fate has so decreed, he now has the excuse to use his new financial muscle to realize those dreams.

Let the child whinge and cry; no matter, the Scalextric is the father's. On occasion, he might grudgingly allow the child to get some mild entertainment from repeatedly sending the cars off the end of every straightaway. But the set is the father's. He will guard it and keep it, bringing it out late at night to practice and practice until he is undoubtably the greatest Scalextric expert on the face of the planet. On dreams such as these great empires are built.

I was one of those fathers, dear readers. I speak from bitter experience and my son, Mad, so recently referred to as the technician, will bear me out on this. Ask him how often he was allowed to play with "his" present, how many times did he get the opportunity to practice his skills and become adept. The guilt haunts me still.

As a result of this disgusting hoarding of the dream to myself, my son never became enamored of anything that moves on four wheels. To my horror, he has instead discovered a fixation with two-wheeled machines, the things they call "motor bikes". This is true retribution upon the sins of the father.

Oh, that we could have that time again; that I could be gifted with the chance to bring my son into the mystique and wonder of the four-wheeled machine. But alas, it can never be. He has chosen his path (or highway) and must needs ride upon it until fate decrees enough "offs" to turn him to better things. Such is the justice of existence.

There is much more to this tale of woe, sweet listener, but I become aware that this is overly long to be judged a mere comment. Even the good Way must protest at anything longer. So I must leave at this juncture with the promise that one day, some day soon, I will continue the epic and we can all become fully aware of the facts, the overwhelming and hardly believable facts, that lead us to contemplation of the meaning of life and model making.

Your good health, patient readers!

8:24 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Gracious day! From the harsh, stiff-back morning chair, bathed by the dazzling light of day, and then to settle down comfortably and at once at ease into one of the well-worn but inviting armchairs, favored by a muted lamp in the corner, an ample bank of hot coals snapping peacefully from the stone hearth, lap blankets available, if needed, and then to see a half-full bottle of what resembles (but could it ever be?!) South African Pinotage. Good gracious day of days!

And I see you have naturally managed to beat me here, Gone. I would normally offer any reasonable man some vivid sort of lie as to my former whereabouts, and keep him satisfied during the process, but unreasonable truth wants to burst forth from within me, and what good does it prosper a man to meddle with the truth. It has certainly never once served me well, unless we want to bring up the Colonel and his well-intended inquisitions, but who has the time for that bit of misery, eh? Why you old scoundrel. I do smell cigars. And there I see an extra glass, and an empty one as well. My dear friend. Well, say I, why not?

While you make trouble to pour, let me consider a toast. But do pour slowly, for I need time to compose.

(now keep this under wraps. I think that the Malay wench out there may be playing you for a fool, as I happened to overhear her honeyed and entrancing tones being sung ever so longingly into the very phone that I personally ordered to be installed at her desk just hours ago, and if the current gossip throughout the new offices has it anywhere near right, then the receiver of her attentions is none other than that silver-tongued chap over at Hereunder, although I might advise that any such disgraceful rumor of that lad’s unblemished character should be treated more as a politician and not as a saint.)

She is a beaut, I do admit to that, which said, should rule out any possibility of family lineage.

Now here’s to ships. May the masts hold firm, though our seas run rough. And down the hatch!

Yes, indeed the day swelled to an absolute overflowing of things, did it not? This Ned with her abilities -- endeavoring to build models -- Harrumph! And where will this end? I’ve kept an eye on her, Gone, or I tried my best to. Seems she vanished early on some spur-of-the-moment adventure -- so unladylike, it seems. You’ve noticed it, too, by the way you nod your head.

She is for certain a cut above the rest of the distaff, so she could be trouble, you know. She had previously mentioned to me some facts about this fellow Garcia…

Gone! Gone, I say! I’m afraid you nodded off there…should we continue tomorrow? No, don’t get up -- here, there’s a blanket for you -- let me have your glass. Pull up on the lever down at your right. I need to go round and check doors before I retire myself. Good show.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Hannah said...

I must confess, I do not know what brand it is, but Joe received a slotcar racing set as a boy. Being raised in a patriarchal society, I loved all things boyish, and Joe and I would beg to be allowed to play with his slotcars. Alas, Santa made a mistake-- the present was not for Joe, but for his father.

Santa several times also mistakenly gave us children lego and lincoln log building sets meant for our father. He was, however, gracious enough to share those toys with us.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Ned said...

I am nothing, if not unladylike.

My father never played with anything. He would occasionally agree to thoroughly destroy you in a game of checkers. I wonder if Santa had brought a violin if he might have been tempted.

Garcia washed the car, but forgot it was a convertible so Hortense and I got rather damp, luckily it was a sunny day and somewhat breezy.

I often disappear without notice, having pressing matters always pressing as well as small ones, ever hungry and with loud voices. Please forward inquiries to Garcia who has my itinerary and some really good coffee.

Slotcar racing was taken to the maxiumum of realism. A sheet of plywood, 4'x6' on two sawhorses, with plaster of paris mountains and hills, houses, trees, a track arranged for maximum difficulty and requiring expert skill, all set up in the basement and an older brother who allowed that his little sister was not as completely useless as most little sisters.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Harry said...

*sigh* After an extensive search of nearby bars, campuses and miles of empty beaches, I failed to locate where the wet-shirt contests were being held. Yes, and even with the hastily-scribbled map Hortense dropped on the driveway. A pity.

Garcia seems to have vanished, as well. A mysterious manifest was discovered, hidden beneath a sponge in the bucket, listing Sulawesi or Celebes as port of departure. On it, the cargo is cryptically spelled out simply as Celebes Toraja. The cur also left the water hose running, which has resulted in an accidental drowning of the dog next door. Local cats have become celebratory. Deep suspicions are now forming from these unexplained events. I must now go confer with "other" sources, distastful as that may be.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

I see that Hannah and Ned must have visited while I was asleep in Way's armchair, for their calling cards lie by my empty glass on the table. Well, that was good of them, to enter quietly, perhaps spend a few moments in friendly banter and then leave, making sure not to awaken the old geezer gently snoring in the corner. Way himself must have been here for I recall something about Malay wenches and it seems to me that we may have shared a glass or two of a very fine Pinotage.

Now where was I? Oh yes, I think it was Scalextric with which I was haranguing my imaginary audience. To continue then:

For many years the Scalextric lay gathering dust as life consumed me with more practical concerns. But then I met a man who was destined to become a good friend of mine. We discovered a mutual interest in Formula One racing.

Oh dear, I suppose that means I am going to have to explain a little about this form of racing, for the sake of those who take no interest in such matters, you understand. Well, there seems no way that I can avoid it so I had best get it over with as quickly as possible. Bear with me, gentle readers.

Formula One is the motor racing series that leads to a World Champion emerging each year. Now, the Americans have this whole business of world championships very well sorted, it seems to me. In baseball for instance, they have a World Series but do not go to the trouble of inviting the rest of the world to play in it. That would be far too complicated to arrange and, besides, a great deal is saved in travel expenses by ensuring that all the games in the series are played in the States by American teams. A brilliant solution to the whole matter, wouldn't you agree?

Back in Europe, where Formula One first began, no-one had thought of such an elegant answer to the problem of world championships and so they instituted a system in which anyone could participate and the races could be held in any country that could afford such an extravagant display. The system was received with such enthusiasm that this form of racing became the pinnacle of technical endeavor for many countries. After an initial period of Italian dominance, my own country, Britain, came to the fore and it is still very influential in the whole business. It was inevitable, therefore, that any Britisher interested in motor racing should consider Formula One as the very best of the sport.

And, at last, we can return to my friend and our mutual interest in this particular subject. In the course of time, it emerged that we both had sons who were the apparent owners of Scalextric sets and this sparked an idea that we were, in time, to implement. Why not, we thought, combine our sets and hold proper races mimicking each round of the world championship?

Well, to cut a long story short, we did essay the thing. We found that we had enough track to copy each circuit of the series and we managed to imitate the real cars involved by designating some as cars that they were not, in fact. The quest was for realism and it was this quest that drew mw, eventually, back into the realm of the model maker.

I became dissatisfied with the system of using cars as others that often they did not even resemble. The range of models available from Scalextric was very limited and the cars were always a least a year out of date because of the time involved in creating each new model. I resolved to attempt making the desired models myself.

The first, a 1983 Tyrrell as I recall, I made from the remains of a model ship that I had been given years before and never bothered with. After buying the innards, the motor and axles and other bits and pieces, I completed the thing and gave it a test run. To my amazement, it worked. Not only that, we found that it was as strong as the Scalextric cars and did not disintegrate if crashed. The handling too was every bit as good as the Scalextric models.

Well, that was the signal for a frenzy of model making. There were plenty of cars that we had desired for a long time and soon I was spending long hours with my improvised tools, cutting and boring and glueing and painting in an effort to keep up with demand. As time went on I learned more and more, becoming able to design the car to perform as it did in real life, so that the better cars in reality were the better in our own little races.

My passion was for accuracy and I became expert in copying the real thing and then painting it in great detail, even down to the correct design on the tiny drivers' helmets. It had me again, that strange compulsion that drives all model makers. I produced some models then that I am still proud of today, even though time has left the tires so hard that they will not grip a track. They are enough like the real thing that it does not matter that they can no longer fulfill their original purpose. Once toys, they have become display models.

That period of feverish production lasted a little more than a year. Life intervened eventually, sending my friend and myself in different directions, so that there was no longer any purpose in continuing the model making. Years later I met that friend by accident and, in the course of conversation, I aked whether he still had the ones I'd made for him (I had an idea that I might buy them back for they had become a memory for me). It turned out that he had been short of money some time before and had sold the whole set, including my models. He did not remember how much he'd received for them.

Time passes and everything that once was becomes just a memory. Yet even these serve their purpose. They are the laid-down remains of our lives, the buried strata that prove that we once passed this way. And, if some passing archaeologist chance upon these years of mine, what will he think? Will he say "model maker" or will he guess at "writer"? For I was both of those. And more.

Any wine left in that bottle, Harry?

2:47 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

Not THIS bottle, nosir, there isn't.

But check out the ship inside. Notice the minuscule islander figurine, her ample hips swaying as she makes her way across the scrubbed teakwood deck, carrying a tray filled with its own minute bottle, two glasses and heaps of fruit. One is a teensy durian, you'll notice. Look there, she is about to step down into the captain's quarters...I must now signal a hasty retreat from this fair section.

Ahoy, young child! What is this you bring me?

3:08 PM  
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