Tuesday 28 February 2017

Notes and Queries

If my blog had a readership larger than my colleagues and friends, then this would all have happened in the comments, but it doesn't so it didn't:

After my story about turning the ignition off in my car at 80mph I found out that one of my readers knows somebody who did something similar with a much worse outcome. He was driving along and had an itchy earhole. He pulled the car key out to scratch with, the steering lock clicked on and drive him off the road and into a field.

After my story about getting stuck in my coat I heard a story from one of my good-looking female readers (so good looking in fact that my old band mates used to prefix her name with "hot-"). She was at home, alone, on a hot day, trying on a wetsuit and got stuck inside it. Apparently the trade-off between dying of heat exhaustion and the humiliation of going round to the neighbours' house and asking for help was on an absolute knife-edge.

It's one of these things that you hear about, but that always happen to other people (like winning the lottery or being murdered). I've literally never had a sexy woman arrive on my doorstep and demand to be wrestled out of constrictive clothing.

Richard "bottom half of the internet" B

Monday 20 February 2017

Miracle on the Parkway

Last week my car tried to kill me, but it didn't try very hard.

When we were at school one of the older boys died on a motorbike when the throttle stuck open. Toyota had widespread problems with un-demanded acceleration and some of the victims had enough time to telephone their loved ones before their high speed crashes.

I've never dared to say it out loud, but I've always wondered whether they had burned their brakes out and whether they had put it into neutral. I immodestly suspected that I would be able to cope with the same emergency.

On Wednesday I got the chance to find out in my kit car. I was on the A38 overtaking a tractor. I was in 4th gear with the throttle wide open. I probably started the maneuver at 60mph and realised that something was wrong at 80mph. I instinctively put my foot on the brakes and it did control the vehicle somewhat. The brakes could probably have overwhelmed the engine in 4th, but I had to press them hard and it sounded like it was going to be expensive. My next move was to put the clutch in. I was now in control of the vehicle but the engine was screaming and bouncing off the rev-limiter. Again I was worried about the financial implications so I carefully turned the key one position to the left. My car doesn't actually have a steering lock, but at the time I didn't remember that, and i was very keen not to engage one while driving at high speed.

I turned the hazard lights on and coasted to a halt in a junction.

The other 150 miles of the journey were very stressful because I didn't dare to open the throttle more than a crack and my hand was hovering next to the ignition key, but I got there safely.

Richard "All last night I sat on the lavvy alone" B

Tuesday 14 February 2017


My coat has buttons. My last coat had buttons and my coat before last had buttons. My coat before my coat before last had a zip – never again. It was slim fitting, black, lightly quilted, quite stylish. I wore it (among many other places) to Barnet where we watched a football match in the bleak midwinter. I was wrapped up in scarves, gloves, jumpers, shirt, probably a  vest. The zip on my coat failed when it was done up all the way to my throat and it was un-undoable. My good friends did help me out of my coat before we got in the car to come home but (because of the large number of clothes) it required a large amount of physical force. Nobody is tall enough to pull a coat up over your head so the procedure eventually involved my being dragged around the car park by my cuffs until the coat was free of me.

Richard "YKK" B

Wednesday 8 February 2017


I have never been tarred-and-feathered, but I did something remarkable similar to my own hands at the weekend.

I have decided to build a luggage rack for my Caterham and it involves several techniques in which I'm unskilled or unfamiliar: Measuring accurately, using tinsnips and keeping both halves, brazing mild steel, buying good quality taps and many more.

On Sunday I planed down some square plugs out of oak (I actually know how to do that and made a pretty accurate job of it). I then tried to laminate some aluminium parts using polyurethane mastic (it turned out to be messy, inaccurate and hard to clamp).

I've never been tarred-and-feathered but I have now been Sikaflex-and-woodshavings'ed.

Richard "Brush off the bench occasionally" B