Sunday, May 03, 2009

The past says 'hello'.

I've been playing with that negative scanner. I found a folder full of very old negatives, some of which showed my first car, a Cortina Mk II. The black band on the left is where the negative didn't quite fit the holder. The car was several shades of blue although the photo is monochrome, which I used a lot because I could develop the film myself. With colour, it was cheaper to get it done by a shop, but developing monochrome was cheaper if you had the gear yourself. That's still true, I think, but now I use colour film because it's hard to get the monochrome.

You know how some people buy dogs from dogs' homes to save them from euthanasia? I do that with cars. I buy them when they're nearly dead and let them finish their lives as cars should - on the road. This one cost me £75 (at current rates I think that's about $100) and lasted three years before the gearbox failed. I had to hold it in fourth gear because it wouldn't stay there. The selector forks had gone and were beyond my ability to repair so the car died. It died a good death, still driving, rather than the ignominious end of being fully functional and cubed anyway.

I often wish I'd kept that car. No computers in the engine, no inaccessible bits behind the dashboard, easy to fix and easy to drive. Plus, it was cheap so the occasional ding didn't worry me at all. A simple and reliable piece of machinery. Not like the one I have now - I open the bonnet and recognise nothing. No distributor. No coil. As far as I can tell, no carburettor. What makes it go? I don't know, something to do with a computer and various mysterious cables.

There are ghost cars reported sometimes. I've never taken them seriously because cars aren't alive and so have no reason to hang around. They're just metal.

Still, if there are any real ghost cars out there, I hope my old Cortina is one of them. It took me the length and breadth of the UK in moderate comfort and without breaking down too often.

Oh, and among those old negatives are photos of a long-ago girlfriend in the nude. One of the advantages of developing your own films. Unfortunately she didn't become famous so the photos aren't worth anything, but I won't put them here because this isn't that kind of blog.

And, for all I know, she might have become a lawyer.


Southern Writer said...

How we love our cars. My Jeep Wrangler, Bessie, is 20 years old this year. When she started leaking oil, I learned it was just an indicator that she had some. All Jeeps leak oil, I was told. Now instead of putting oil in her every week, I just pour it directly on the carport and save myself the trouble of lifting her hood.

Romulus Crowe said...

Reminds me of student-days pranks. One was to put a tiny stone inside the hubcap. It worked best with the old chrome hubcaps. When the car moved, the stone rattled - but when it stopped, there was no fault to be found anywhere.

Another was the 'oil leak'. Find someone who parks in the same spot every day. Put a few drops of old engine oil on the ground under the front of the car. Every day, add a little more. They'd go nuts trying to find the leak.

I hung around with some strange people in my youth. Still do, I suppose.

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