Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Putting You Through Now Caller

Not getting out much this week, so please forgive yet another rummage in my drawers. At least it gives me an opportunity to go on about telephone service vans. Except they're not now, are they? Now they're appallingly signed white vans with mediocre graphics and that utterly meaningless marketing-speak word 'Openreach'. You can see the account team presenting it at BT Towers can't you, doing that irritating thing where they say the word whilst making quotation marks with their fingers. So, is this yet another thing where we're treated as just the next item to put its hand up in a call centre, (anyone who's had to sort out an internet problem with BT will know what I mean), or symptomatic of a much more general malaise? We see this 'Sod the Public' attitude (copyright Kingsley Amis) expressed in so much we have to just look at these days- let alone deal with- in what are supposed to be public services. Train and bus liveries, road signing, local council aberrations. Like so much else in our lives these days, as exhibited by those two unfunny arrogant idiots on Radio 2, it comes down to nobody thinking that courtesy is important anymore. Except the Unmitigated Reader of course. We know that we'd sooner have a deep bronze green telephone van with Her Majesty's crown on the side, wooden ladders and the tyre pressures marked above each wheel. It's not nostalgia, it's good order. And good manners of course.

31 comments:

Ron Combo said...

Spot on Peter. It's all over. We should all go and get rat-faced on Harvey's in some decent boozer near Beachy Head and then chuck ourselves off. The people to blame (in no particular order) are Noel Edmonds, John Lennon, Edward Heath, the Duke of Windsor and Kelvin MacKenzie.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Never could work out why the GPO vans had rubber mudguards. I think Ron needs a rubber mudguard; he can hit himself over the head with it, to speed the cure.

A F-A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Ashley said...

Blimey, much to think about here lads. I'd stick Jamie Oliver in your list somewhere Ron, and the rubber mudguards Fred were used because the originals kept getting bashed. AFA, I need my wheel arches marked with the tyre pressures because I can never remember what they are. But what I want to know is why did these vans AND Royal Mail vans have a matt black fabric covering on the roofs? I can see it for the GPO van, 'cos it would stop the scratching of the metal by the ladder, but post vans?

Toby Savage said...

Fred. It wasn't the Minor that had the rubber wings. It was the J2. The one with the sliding doors. (Google Morris J2 - there's lots of pictures) They also rode BSA Bantam's. The - no rear suspension model, 123 cc. I once saw a GPO employee riding off, no hands fastening his helmet as the bike rocketed to 25 mph. Funning the things you remember on your fourth glass of 'Combo' Dolcetta.... Sorry Ron. Good luck with the drying out. You can always count on friendly advise from your many companions over here.

A F-A said...

I looked up the Minor Owners Club (www.morrisminoroc.co.uk) and they definitely show GPO Minors with rubber wings. Suspiciously though, they all seem to be the same photo, but I did have a pal who owned one. Pretty sure they were early models only, with the split screen.

(I'm turning into a bit of a contrary bugger aren't I...sorry!!)

Jon Dudley said...

The Morris Minor was quite a revelation after the Morris Eight van. We had a biology master who used to drive to school in one of the latter complete with brass door handles rather like those found on railway carriages. Purchased at auction it still retained its wooden ladder bearers and 'GPO Telephones' was obliterated with black paint...we knew what it was though and therefore gave proper respect to Mr Liddle (Maths and violence) with his 3.8 Jag. You can add any one of the current crop of fashion/style 'gurus' to your list Ron - give me a TV personality with real gravitas, say Barry Bucknell.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Anyone fancy a pint?

Peter Ashley said...

Jon: I was going to mention those brass handles on the Morris 8. I was caught fiddling with them by an irate telephone engineer when I was about six.

Yes, let's have a pint Fred, but not before someone answers my GPO roof question.

Jon Dudley said...

Someone's taken Fred up on his idea down here. 6 am and the most enormous explosion was heard from Lewes some five miles away as the cry flows. Harvey's will have started to flow and continue its nourishing work throughout the coming day and night.

Ron Combo said...

Will you lot please note that I did not say that we should go to Beachy Head and toss ourselves off which is what I would have put when I was on my second bottle. Now I'm clean and I face a new world, eyes shining with hope, hand in hand with Obama.

Peter Ashley said...

I'm up for anything Ron, but I'm more disturbed by the image of you shiny-eyed and staring hopefully into the distance. It brings to mind Soviet posters of the 30s, usually with a big tractor silhouetted in the background. Are you wearing dungarees?

Toby Savage said...

Getting back to Morris Minors and away from this gutter talk, we too had a Biology teacher, Wilk, who had a Morris 1000. As a childish prank (always the best type, even in adulthood) we lifted it up and put bricks under the rear axle so one wheel was about 1 mm off the ground. Invisible problem to a Biology teacher, but obvious to anyone familiar with the workings of a differencial. My how we sniggered.

Peter Ashley said...

Ooh, cars that our teachers drove. There's a rich seam. Maths: black pre-war Wolseley nicknamed Agememnon, Physics: Two-tone Hillman Husky, P.E: black Morris 8, Geography: blue and white Triumph Herald, French Mistress: white Facel Vega. Made that last one up.

Toby Savage said...

Yes. You gave the game away as soon as you typed 'French Mistress' I got to the sylable, 'st' and knew you had drifted off.

Peter Ashley said...

Blimey, we're all at it this morning aren't we? Is it because it's raining? I'm staring out of the corner turret at Ashley Towers like those two women in Schlesinger's Far from The Madding Crowd who stand in the bedroom shaking their heads at the downpour outside Bathsheba's farm. Well, something like that.

Jon Dudley said...

Hmmm, a rich vein indeed! French mistress at our school had a stunning green Citroen DS 19...both real beauties. Where are you now Mme Knight? In an old peoples home I suppose. Must be the weather, but you're rather poetic today Mr A.

Peter Ashley said...

Yes, melancholic sort of day. Rain sweeping across the pastures in the distance, sheep blissfully grazing up against the hedges. In the foreground a groom is carrying a saddle back to the stables with her head down against the wet, but the head gardener at The Grange is wheeling a barrow across the lawn filled with bits of hedge, cigarette clamped-on. Hope it's a Park Drive.

Thud said...

Many would regard the readers here as backward looking has beens bypassed by the newer better world of the tinternet etc...when in fact most of us embrace the best of now with an passion equaling any bright young thing.It's just that many of us realise that much that we have lost is in fact superior to much of today and in fact would seamlessly fit in with modern living if only people would not settle for the inferior second rate rubbish foisted on us.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Teachers' cars? Biology: Ford Popular 103E; Chemistry: Humber Hawk Mk IV (really); French: something produced by Simca (so not a Déesse - and not a mistress, double hélas!); Music: DAF Variomatic (honestly!). On the whole, car-ogling was best done up the road at the Preston Hill Climb, and still is.

Peter Ashley said...

Wasn't the DAFF Variomatic driven by chains?

Jon Dudley said...

Arghhh...the mere mention of the DAF is enough to send Mrs Dudley to the knife drawer...first to stab me then to slash her own wrists. As a penniless entrepreneur (shorley shome mistake? Ed) and our beloved Renault 4 having returned to dust I espied a DAF33 for sale. Perfect thinks I. How wrong can one be? Mrs.D took an immediate and hateful dislike to this £100 vehicle. She hated it with such venom that she abused its belt-drive Variomatic transmission by screaming the nuts off it at every available opportunity. Eventually the elastic bands, perfectly satisfactory in the hands of rally drivers the world over, failed spectacularly. I gave up and towed the poor little thing to the scrap yard.

Peter Ashley said...

Another rich vein (begging the pardon of Mrs. Dudley's wrists). The cars we owned but had an all-consuming hatred for. Mine has to be the Hillman Imp Husky (in chocolate brown) that filled up with carbon monoxide every time I stopped at traffic lights. (Blog posting 19 February 2008.)

Toby Savage said...

Our Dad had a Husky/Imp. The oil and water filler caps were identical and both under a flap at the back. Trying to be helpful, I filled the sump with anti freeze. Biggest love/hate relationship... Citroen DS23 Pallas. Endless trouble, but when running and properly suspended, sublime.

Jon Dudley said...

My father, normally a sane, balanced and talented engineer lost his marbles and bought a new Moskvitch estate 'car'. Fitted with every conceivable extra such as a heater, this vehicle was by far and away the shoddiest, most ill-conceived pile of toot you can imagine. It handled rather better when the heavy duty Russian tyres were changed for ones made of a rubber compound but it was just horrid - there's no other word to describe it. Horrid to look at, horrid to drive, horrid to own...the old man sold it and bought another problem...a Singer Chamois (poncey version of the Hillman Imp), and thus virtually bankrupted himself by keeping it in water pumps. Bill Blydenstein made Moskvitchs go apparently, but they still didn't look any better.

Peter Ashley said...

The Moskvitch brings back other obscure names I longed to tick off in my Observer's Books of Automobiles: Berkeleys made in a funny-sounding place called Biggleswade, German Hansa Goliaths from Bremen. Stood no chance of spotting an Alexander Turner, probably because I got it confused with a school prefect.

ageing hipster said...

Funny how those those 'two unfunny arrogant idiots on Radio 2' seem to have become a bellweather for all that is most rubbish about modern life. I reckon they also popped their heads up just in time to act as a lightning conductor for people's rage over the financial crisis... the nauseating waste of huge sums of money on so much mediocrity, on worthless mortgages and 'structured investment vehicles', greedy banking executives, Radio 2 presenters... the sudden realisation that no-one is really in charge or has much of a clue what's going on... somehow it all seems of a piece...

Peter Ashley said...

Blimey.

Jon Dudley said...

Have my Hansa Goliath made ready immediately, we must make all haste!

Fred Fibonacci said...

But is that really the Hansa?

Toby Savage said...

Blimey in deed Peter. Funny how we all pontificate then a Hipster comes along and sums up the whole ghastly mess in a couple of paras. Bravo! I have my cord hipsters on in admiration.