This blog is called Beer & Quizzes as, usually, it’s about beer and quizzes (mainly quizzes). However, I’m neither shallow nor obsessive (although some of The Royal Blokes*) may disagree, and I’ll occasionally blog about my other passions. This is one of those weeks. However, before I wax lyrical about the joys of getting your top off, this weeks results:
Beer – Lime and Soda. No alcohol as it’s Lent (although to whom, and for how long, I’m still unsure). I’m also unsure why, if Lent commemorates Jesus’s 40 days in the wilderness, it actually lasts 46 days. Probably something to do with the Julian vs Gregorian calendars.
2014 Quiz Results – Royal Blokes: 10 Quizzes, 5 wins, 1 place (50% win ratio)
2014 Quiz Results – Other Quizzes: 2 Quizzes, 1 win (50% win ratio)
This weeks quiz started ok, slowly getting better. It also helped that one of the songs in the audio round (“Bobby’s Girl”) was sung by Parker’s* Aunty Sue. Still in with a shout of winning with two rounds to go, we had what was probably the ideal run in – a Music Round with a safety card for the gamble question, followed by TV & Film. With the maximum 20 points in the bag for the music round (putting us in the lead), and with 9 answers correct in TV & Film, this left us with a tough choice – should we gamble or not? With the gamble question being ‘in what year was Danny Dyer born?’ and being unsure of our answer of 1977, we didn’t go for it. Amber Nectar* did, and beat us into second place. It was 1977! However, the more important question has to be ‘Danny Dyer – is there a more appropriately named actor?’. The name is as good a fit as that of the lead singer of The Pussycat Dolls – Nicole Shit-singer.
Anyway, enough of that, and more of this:
Well not quite that, although I would like to thank Lucy Pinder for popping round to pose for this week’s blog – that photography course I did last year is suddenly worth the money.
After what has been the wettest winter in living memory, the sun has finally come out and, with spring just around the corner, there are clear skies and a modicum of warmth in the air. Perfect for getting topless. I’ve owned a number of cars over the years, including three Mondeos, three Astras and two Fiestas. There has been a time when I’ve owned three carts at the same time, including a Land Rover.
[pause for the green lobby to choke on their museli and tofu]
However, this does not mean I’m a petrolhead – far from it; one of the worst hour’s of my life was spent at the Hippodrome at Le Touquet-Paris-Plage listening to two people discussing how to manufacture and build a miniature carburettor. While a car, to me, is usually a means of transport from A to B, there are times that it’s so much more. That’s when I drive for the sheer enjoyment of it. And to do so, it has to be done topless!
Although my first car was a Mini, this was my first convertible:
Essentially, it was a road legal go-kart which, although it did have doors and a roof, they were never used. The other thing it was missing was any form of ground clearance. There was a time when myself and Cpt. America* took it down the motorway and realised that our heads were lower than the tops of the tyres on the lorries we were passing – an experience like that gives you a unique sense of mortality. If it wasn’t for the fact that one morning I found it on bricks, I’d still have the car – it was like waking up and finding out I now lived in Chelmsley Wood. (I went to Chelmsley Wood once – it was to visit my wheels!). The two convertible Astras were much more practical in every sense. There is nothing better than, on a day like today, blasting around the North Worcestershire hills with the roof down, music volume up and the heating on full. If fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that the roof ECU is currently f****d, I’d be doing that instead of writing this blog. This is a problem you never had with the go-kart.
This is the point where I’m sort of forced to mention France. The UK is approx. 94k square miles and has a population of 64 million people. France has a similar population, a similar level of car ownership, a similar quality of road network, but it’s 213k square miles and has better weather. This makes it a great place for driving topless. If it wasn’t for the fact that it’s full of French, I’d move there. The problem with the French is simple – they insist on everyone else using their language and they pine for the days when they used to be a great power on the world stage. It’s almost as if they’re English!
I’ve been driving in France a few times, navigating for The Engineer* in his e-type. The city of Laon runs an annual classic car weekend – the Saturday spent doing a cross-country rally, the Sunday driving round a closed circuit of the city streets – which is well worth a visit for anyone with any sort of old or modern ‘classic’ car. Their definition of ‘classic’ is also quite broad as the place is always full of MX5s. It also has a fantastic Gothic cathedral, which is one of the three most important in France. If you ever go, remember your camera.
Unfortunately the e-type is now sadly deceased, following a spin on the Shrewsbury ring road whilst heading for a run out in Mid-Wales in December. Front and rear damage, plus writing off a Volvo in the process (no mean feat) isn’t contusive with keeping your car on the road in the long term. That, and the fact that The Engineer is in the process of emigrating to the US, means that my next major purchase will be one of these:
And with that, I’m off to try and manually reset the roof on the Astra. I make no apologies for the indulgence of this week’s blog – normal service will be resumed next week.
Footnote: The length ofLent has nothing to do with either the Gregorian or Julian calendar – apparently Sunday’s don’t count and, once you’ve deducted the six of these, your back to 40 days. However, according to the Catholics at work, if you give up alcohol for Lent, you’re also allowed to drink on St Paddy’s Day as well. Parker isn’t really related to Susan Maughan, although Maughan was his mother’s maiden name, hence why he knew the answer. The cars on display are a Vindicator Sprint (the one I used to own is now currently for sale by Michael Andretti – son of the 1978 Formula One Champion Mario) and a Triumph Herald 13/60 – I’m after a 1968 one, ideally in damson and cream, rather that the red and white version in the picture. If anyone knows where one is for sale …
* see Cast List