So first an apology to my regular readers, yes, both of you. I have been off the air for three days owing to a technical hitch with my server. I have no idea what this means but it’s all the explanation I have had from my IT guy. I know it’s ruined my data for this month. Being back on line on Sunday my joy was tempered by the fact that it seems about 15 (I haven’t been able to count precisely the number as my tears keep blurring my vision) of my blogs have ‘disappeared’ into the blogasphere or wherever they go. I hope that with this regular Tuesday blog, matters will now proceed as usual, normal service will be resumed as they say. Having written the blogs originally on WORD – thank God (and a piece of advice to all bloggers), all is not completely lost and I will hopefully be replacing them over the next few weeks one or two at a time. I thought this might be better than trying to zap all 15 or so of them on to the blog in one go. As my grandma used to say when I tried to eat all the cakes in one go, “you’ll make yourself sick, lad.” I think that is a relevant comparison. So back to my routine and at least I didn’t lose my record of publishing every Tuesday,
Retirement, as we all know, is a time for reflection, looking back over our lives with a wry smile and a a set of fond memories. Such as my experience with Land Rover Defenders, well to a degree. John Updike once said his style of writing was about ‘giving the mundane its beautiful due’. One of those lovely phrases that makes you wish you could write something as good but then we can’t all be John Updike can we? What I can do in this blog is to write about the mundane but I can’t honestly say that what I write is beautiful. This week’s blog is no exception – it’s exceptionally mundane (some ‘enthusiasts’ would disagree). It concerns my love of the Land Rover, Defender –as in this picture of my current vehicle. I decided I would write about my long association with this particular vehicle after reading an article on the AOL news page a few days ago. The article described Land Rover’s plans for the vehicle given they have recently ceased the making of the Defender after something like 70 years of continuous production. A sad day I’m sure you will agree. This article wasn’t about stopping production but rather about starting it up again albeit in a rather unusual way. It made me smile.
What the company are going to do is to produce, using all genuine parts (and I can’t remember the exact figure) about 50 Series One, Defenders. In other words the earliest version of the vehicle. They were first made round about 1947? as competition to the American Jeep. See photo right for the version they are intending to produce. As a Land Rover fan I would give several of my guitars to own one of these icons but of course there was a catch. Rather than selling a few guitars I would have to sell a house to buy one of these babies. The proposed cost is between £60,000 and £80,000 depending on the specs. What amused me, a bit, was that is the price I had been offered to sell my late mother’s – now mine – house. Sell a house and buy a car. Sounds simple but not in my world. But to say I coveted this vehicle would be an understatement. It almost makes me wish I was rich.
Land Rover Defenders and I go back a long time although it was only about 10 or 12 years (that kind of age when you convince yourself to buy things you don’t need with sentences like, well, why shouldn’t I treat myself, I’ve worked hard all my life, etc. etc.) ago that I came to own a real-life / full sized one before that I had first a Dinky toy version (see photo), still owned by me but suffering badly from the days when, like an idiot with no thought of their future value, I shot them with my air rifle. If this toy were in perfect condition I could sell it, raise maybe £50 and only have to raise another £59,950 to buy the one above, assuming I was prepared to settle for the cheapest version.
The second Defender I owned (left) was a Corgi toy, this one in somewhat better condition but I think Corgi toys are a bit less collectable than Dinky toys. Still fetch good money though as auctions I have attended prove. After a gap of several years during which I put aside childish things and became a man, still with my affection for this peculiar beast though, I bought the superior model (below) and, as you can see, becoming a man means I don’t go round shooting things any longer although I can think of a few human beings I like to shoot but no, I can’t do that mainly because I no longer have my air rifle.
Which brings me to the real thing. A friend of mine, he who lives on a farm with his sheep and family, they’ve gone now, the sheep not the family, had bought a long wheelbase, 110, version. He wanted something more suited to his position in life and was trading in his Defender against a Discovery. He offered it to me for the same price as he would get trading it in. I had this vehicle for a number of years, eventually gifting it to number one son to start up his gardening business, and refusing to let him sell it even though technically it was his. I cannot show you a real-life photo of this lovely vehicle because some bastard stole it while it was in the garage being restored and this evil act brings me back to my list of people I would like to shoot. I’ll leave you with a photo of me as a once proud owner, and move on to the current version before I get upset all over again.
My latest Defender, now a short wheelbase, 90 and the one at the top of this blog, is my pride and joy which is just as well because if there was ever a more impractical vehicle I have yet to make its acquaintance. It’s noisy, expensive on petrol, in fact diesel which we are now, note now, told is the Devil’s fuel, a liquid of pure evil. So noisy, expensive, difficult to drive with any degree of smoothness, poor visibility, impossible to get anything in the back (like fibreboards you will remember, maybe not as this is a currently lost blog, hopefully shortly to be restored) especially with the dog cage in the back, so why would any ‘person’ want to steal such a thing. But they do it seems, Now that they’re no longer being made, their ‘desirability’ for the criminal fraternity, has increased. According to sources they’re being nicked right, left and centre (which is where the steering wheel used to be on the early models). Makes you afraid to take them out and I certainly don’t want to ‘lose’ another one. Mrs Summerhouse told me to blank out the registration – what is the world coming to? But I can’t lock it in the garage because the garage is full of multi-various forms of junk, much of which comes from my late mother’s house (as did incidentally the two toys above, found while clearing out the house), now rebranded as ‘the Derbyshire cottage’. But this as we know from these blogs is another story and the topic of future blogs, so fear not, you’re not missing anything.
So there we are retirement in all its many facets and me writing a blog about motor vehicles of various sizes I have known and loved. And it’s not as if we haven’t been very busy with vineyard, gardening business and Derbyshire cottage (and now problems with this blog) but I thought I would write about something different, something more mundane, from these three main retirement areas. Nice to be back.