Oh dear, are we growing old disgracefully?

A story shared with you by Jerry Burgoyne ……….

A few years ago my partner, best friend, soul mate and lover noticed a few grey hairs in my beard. Some lover’s, at this delicate stage in the journey from cradle to grave, wrap their partner up in the forlorn hope that a little more middle aged spread will induce a certain amount of torpor and so convince him an energetic afternoon in the garden is now his limit. My partner understood a few grey hairs, a soft top and a six pint stomach were not certain proofs that a garden and a few tools were all she needed to keep her man in good health, so she suggested a turbo charged Subaru.  

Eventually a Scooby Blue Impreza was found, money changed hands knowing this would be an end to her dream of relaxing on a sun buffed beach while innumerable scantily clad Adonis scuttled around pandering to her every whim!  

Sure enough, almost as soon as the money changed hands, Scooby crews began to circle the newbies suggesting all manner of expensive modifications, modifications that would undoubtedly make this dream faster than a speeding bullet.  

Fortunately she had once been as reckless as it was possible to go on three wheels, and survive, and he hadn’t been that leisurely with four so the car remained as it was – but there was a problem. This need for speed had begun years ago, years where they had attended many many parties and consumed enough to destroy far too many brain cells for any of those skills to persist. This was quickly confirmed after a few underwear changing moments in the Scooby; something had to be done, otherwise she’d have to trust to garden tools.  And garden tools, even bright and shiny ones, didn’t interest her in the slightest. 

A search of the internet brought forward a possible source of salvation so CAT Driver Training was recruited to start repairing the ravages of too many parties, too little exercise and far too much time with a training session at Millbrook. This proved a tremendous success as a few brain cells began to fire and then communicate with each other, the broken synapses being reconnected with tremendous tact and skill by Colin Hoad. 

Although they didn’t appreciate it at the time, Colin’s tinkering had gone far deeper than they suspected – the drive home was a revelation. The Scooby seemed tame, not slow – a car with more than three hundred horsepower is never going to feel sluggish.  Now it felt like a thoroughbred that was prepared to behave itself, if it was asked nicely.

Several years passed, years where new challenges came and went but time had been found to exercise the thoroughbred until it was perfectly able to keep up with all the other Scoobies – all of which had suffered under the engineers spanner.

It was at about this time that the spectre of shiny garden tools reared its ugly head again as they began to wonder if their backs could cope with the Scooby for much longer; too much middle aged spread perhaps? She was worried, very worried, he, as usual, couldn’t see what the fuss was all about – if all else failed a bit more middle aged spread wouldn’t be the end of the world.  Fortunately she knew better.

Many many hours were wasted as the subject was skirted around over a huge number of pints as various friends were shaken down, shaken vigorously in the hope that someone somewhere would come up with a good way of avoiding death by shiny garden tool. No one knows where the idea came from, well he does, but as several are claiming responsibility, perhaps the idea to race a forty year old Mark One Ford Escort should be shared, all of them now part of the decision that would, in all probability, smother her dream of a well-equipped sun buffed beach populated with six packs.

The search for salvation eventually led to TAD, a white big wing that had already featured on the cover of Classic Ford Magazine. In short order the stunning car was trailered home and then it dawned on them that her dream was going to be well and truly out of reach as it was stripped down, until there were less than a handful of bolts left in place, before the long process of turning it into a forty year old projectile they would be happy for him to strap on began.

Unfortunately Colin’s words of a few years earlier had worked on her as well, worked so well that one day, over a pint or two, when a friend asked if she was worried about him hurting himself, her reply had confirmed his worst fear, “just as long as he’s not last!”  The friend tried to make light of it but her eyes gave away her true feelings, taking part was not going to be good enough at all.

Her man is quite capable of doing things very few on our strange planet can but this was pressure, real pressure, he knew the car was going to be as good as could be made. He wasn’t doing any of it, but the person who was really knew what he was doing, so physically everything was coming together quite nicely.  The key hope was that TAD would not have to suffer the indignity of sniffing every other exhaust pipe, if it was lucky enough to have a nut behind the wheel who was capable of wringing its neck.

Luck was not something they relied on, so Colin’s help was sought once again, this time at Bruntingthorpe where the wide open spaces would allow TAD’s driver to explore the outer boundaries of physics without destroying too much, apart from his dignity, when he span off.

The work started as soon as they arrived when Colin asked a very profound question, “what do you want to achieve?”

She sat there with a patient smile on her face as her man wrestled with a reply. This took most of a cup of tea but in the end it made sense: “I want to move my comfort zone from here to there.”

Colin smiled thoughtfully and then it began. Just as before Colin took the time to explain everything, questions were asked and then contact was re-established between eyes, hands, feet and brain. This took less time than they thought as Colin’s words and ancient pathways began to work together.

The morning was spent whipping the car between cones, all the while honing the connections between various bits of his body that had stopped communicating, when they’d lost sight of each other all those years ago.

Lunch was a fairly leisurely affair as these connections were allowed to solidify and then it was out on the track. Now his dearth of brain cells really got in the way as her man took a lot of time working out which way the track went. Eventually he managed that herculean task, so Colin began talking about very obscure subjects, smooth heeling and toeing, spring rates versus trail braking, terminal braking and a lot else, most of which went straight through the few remaining brain cells, hardly delaying the passage of these words of wisdom at all.

Then it all started coming together. Now the car was floating, rarely pointing where it was going, hands and feet working in sync with a pair of eyes that had suddenly found enough time to see more than the next corner. Then he began to realise just how much Colin was saying as the car flowed around the bends at well over a hundred miles an hour. Now the corners were being attacked, no longer were they something that slowed things down between the straights, now they were opportunities to bury the throttle pedal and keep it buried.  Now setting something up a couple of corners back was paying off on the next straight and the last few laps were truly magical; now he had time to listen and think and drive.

CAT Driver Training and Colin had done it again, now his comfort zone was very different.  Her man fully understood the initials JB didn’t mean he was another Jensen Button, but he was beginning to feel confident TAD would not have to sniff too many exotic gases. The indepth study of all the excuses justifying gazing at well-polished exhaust pipes would remain just that, an indepth study.

So we go back to the beginning. Will this induce a certain amount of torpor and an excess of political correctness as the grey hairs continue to multiply? No way.  Pulling a G or so around the corners will do far more to delay the onset of an elasticated waist band, than any number afternoons spent pottering around the weeds.  And, as an added bonus, the howl of a well-tuned engine has always been far more thrilling than the dull thud of a spade. 

This is the first in an occasional series of articles telling the tale of how The Cap’n and Dianne, no we are not the remnants of a pop group, deal with the struggle of growing older in an age where the winds of change are no longer just a gentle breeze.

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