Saturday, 7 August 2010

Like being twenty-one again

     Several hundred old cars and a '50s diner on an articulated truck are parked in a field in Somerset on a summer weekend. Their owners, mostly blokes in their twenties united by membership of an internet car forum, are busy firing up the BBQs. The beer will flow and out will come the project machinery, the modified mopeds, home-made unicycles and rocket-powered skateboards. Someone will  set up a makeshift cinema with a VGA projector as the sun sets and a few old car movies will be shown, Two Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point, or Smokey and the Bandit. Tomorrow there will be a sprint competition, an autojumble and the chance to wander round a load more cars talking improbable rubbish about anything that burns petrol.
      My upcoming weekend might not at first reading seem that exciting, but I have to say I'm rather looking forward to it. For most of the last two decades a significant proportion of my peer group have been petrolheads and as a result their world is one I'm comfortable in. Right now I think my wife and I need the escape that a weekend away from home, work and gender issues can deliver so joining C and sharing the relative civilisation of a race transporter rather than roughing it in a tent seems rather attractive.
     In a way it's another chance to peer into my past. Most of the people in the field this weekend will be 20-something blokes, as yet unfettered by wives, mortgages or children and free to indulge their unhealthy interest in old cars. I was once one of them, a bit more depressed and withdrawn perhaps, but a summer weekend in the 1990s might well have seen me and the Rusty Old Wreck in this very field. Previously the evening high-jinks at this event have included some fairly unconvincing cross-dressing from the youthful petrolheads. I would say to look for the one that's enjoying it a little bit too much, but going by my own experience I'd say look for the one that's rather too strenuously not getting involved. Nothing changes really, I'm certainly not getting involved this weekend. I suspect that's as well, I'd probably do too good a job of it. Shame, it would make a change to be the most presentable of a group of crossdressers!
     So for the investment in half a tank of fuel for C's transporter and a campsite pass we get a carefree weekend assaulted by sun, wind, tyre smoke and rain. Sun cream and umbrella at the ready, plus camera, sunglasses, Gore-Tex and paracetamol (For non-Brits: tylenol). A chemical loo, a shower that only has enough hot water in one go for a very short wash and not quite enough mains power from a 2-stroke generator to power my wife's hairdryer. And we're doing this for fun? We must be mad!
    Whatever you are doing this weekend, enjoy it!


  1. Oh the joys of camping.

    So I was not the only one refusing to get involved, it would have been like giving an alcoholic a strong drink!

    I still love the smell of burning Castrol oil in the morning.

    Caroline xxx

  2. By now you are probably well into it. I hope you are having a good time with your fellow petrol heads.

    As for the cross dressing, I know exactly what you mean. back in my 20's and early 30's, when I still had a social life, some of my old male friends would occasionally cross dress in a sort of comical way for Halloween parties. I never cross dressed, for fear of outing myself. To do it comically, would have been too disrespectful to the real me. Yet if I had taken it seriously, how would I explain my fashion sense, my expertise in applying makeup, or the ease with which I walked in four inch heels?

    By the way, you probably already know this, but the combination of paracetamol/tylenol and alcohol is highly toxic to the liver.

    Melissa XX

  3. Back home now and using a proper computer rather than a mobile phone in the noise and heat of a Talbot Express passenger seat.

    I like camping when it involves walking across mountains, it's part of the experience and nobody cares if you're a bit grubby. When you have to interface with others though it's nice not to smell like the back seat of a Triumph Herald.

    Don't worry about paracetamol/alcohol, this was in case of dehydration headaches from the sun and wind of an open show area. As it was I drank enough to avoid it.

    And I didn't observe any crossdressing antics. Shame, I could have scored them in the manner of figure skating judges with little placards.

  4. I was with you until you said not enough power for the hair dryer!

    Hope you enjoyed it.


    BTW - I'm guessing the back seat of a herald smells a little like the whole inside of a spitfire (petrol?) :)

  5. I was rather surprised, the little generator had enough power to run the hairdryer on its half power setting. Made it grunt a little but it held up.