Sunday, 8 September 2019

Peaky Blinders and the lost past

I shall not bore people with an account of the camper-vans we have continued to see. Suffice to say we have travelled many miles but are still looking. They are too old, or too high a mileage, or have a poor layout, or are too expensive, or are too rough and noisy on the road. I never thought a choice could be so hard or protracted, but like so much in life there are pluses and minuses, and they seem to balance each other to the point where, like Buridan’s ass, we can't make up our minds. We must therefore leave it for a while, and let our minds settle.

Next week promises to be busy. Ann's friend Sylvia is coming up, but booked the wrong day when I will be working in London, so Ann will have to meet her alone. On Friday, another friend, a German I worked with in the Netherlands, is coming to London and wants to meet up. I don't think he has visited Cambridge yet, so we may be able to entice him to get the train up rather than me go down to London again.

Downstairs, Ann is watching Peaky Blinders. I try to avoid these films of violence, having seen as much blood and gore as I ever wish to see in real life, so I have left her in peace over a cup of tea. The series is set in Birmingham, with many of Ann's old haunts from when she lived there, so that's another reason for her to watch. I don't think I have seen any film or television play set in Coventry, the home of my youth, but if there were one I would not want to watch it for that reason. I couldn't wait to leave the place, and have never felt any urge to return. Once, Coventry was the engineering centre of England, with a myriad of different car manufacturers that read like a roll-call of famous vintages: Alvis, Armstrong Siddeley, Daimler, Hillman, Humber, Lanchester, Lea-Francis, Singer, Standard, Sunbeam-Talbot and Triumph.  In the late '50s and early '60s, the UK had the world's second largest car-making industry and was the world's leading car exporter. They used to say that somewhere in those backstreets would be someone who could make anything that anyone could dream up. Even our school had a fully equipped engineering department with professional lathes, milling machines and metal-working equipment the equal of any, where we learnt the skills of technical drawing, welding, riveting and foundry work. Now Jaguar is the only one left, and they are owned by Tata Motors with engines that were built by Ford. Health and safety have long since stopped children using such violent and dangerous equipment, and all those streets could show is a whole string of closed down factories and lost talent.

1 comment:

  1. Phillip Larkin said Coventry was the city were his childhood was 'unspent', despite that it is the city of Culture 2021. When I was growing up in Birmingham, we loved to take the bus to Coventry, it was such a nice city despite the bombing. The shopping centre then was very modern, and the cathedral was beautiful, still is. Good memories of Coventry.


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