Greg
Greg's diary
April 1969
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This diary was entered manually from the paper original, mainly between 6 September and 30 September 2016. The entry for 14 April was entered in April 2009, forty years later.


Tuesday, 1 April 1969 Maidenhead → WGC → Maidenhead
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Up at 0800 this morning, and, bearing yesterday in mind, set off immediately for Welwyn Garden, and just before Hatfield, at about 0810, became so tired that I could hardly continue. Stopped at a lay-by, and, with dreams of tortises and hares, grabbed a half hour sleep, waking much refreshed and with the sun to my right. Arrived within an acceptable time of 0845, and Richard suggested I made the other catalyst with TiCl₃.TiCl₂Br and Al(C₂H₅)₂Br, which I did, though I was still as dead tired as ever. Nevertheless plodded on, and nothing all too violent seemed to stand in my way, apart from Owen wishing me happy birthday - I think I rather caught him by surprise by telling him it was Ananada Krishnan's. Got the stuff going well before lunch time, and then had a bit of time to wake up and wonder what that so-called Al(C₂H₅)₂Br actually was. Off to lunch, after which I did little - back to read my Book of the road, to work out whether I wanted it or not, and then up to the analysts to see how much alkyl they would need. Turned out they would need 50 cc, so decided that I would give him the whole flask and get them to give back as much as possible. After consulting Richard, decided not to get Peter Clegg's countersignature, and was just about to take it up when Sonny rang to say a) Bev was peeed off with him, and wanted to thumb to Winchester in the company of some bloke, b) he was worried about his car misfiring and (oh yea, c)), he was peed off with me for choppig up his chin - remarkable how calm and almost nonchalant he already is about it. Tried to right up W.V. Derrington for him, but could not find the number. Took the stuff up to the analysts and ordered 6 stirrer magnets, then hung around for a while until I could ring Bev up, which I did, about 1640, and spoke until 1700. Sonny has told her about sleeping with Shari - good lad - but he has not told her the circumstances - silly bugger - and so Bev thinks he had her, because he wanted to, when nothing could be further from the truth. He also is apparently always on about Shari in his letters, which hardly helps. Then home, had makan, and off to the laundrette, not a moment too soon, and then, after bringing them back, off to Maidenhead to get my diary from Paul, and got sidetracked - off for a drive to Marlow and Henley, and late back, so decided a) to stay the night b) not to go to work tomorrow. Late to bed.


Wednesday, 2 April 1969 Maidenhead → London → M'head → WGC
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Up round 1030 this morning, after various thoughts at earlier time when Paul suggested that, were we not soon to get a move-on, the cleaning woman would come round and see us. It eventuated that she already had, and when I got up she saw me and later came in and gave a rather sarky opinion on the likes of Paul and me. Accordingly we got out as quickly as possible, along with 9 milk bottles which were worrying her, and then headed off to London, as we couldn't think of anything better to do. Arrived in London only shortly before lunch, owing to a medium-sized traffic jam in Knightsbridge with 5 of the original 9 milk bottles. Over in the direction of Strand, with primary intent to find Australia house, but were unsuccessful, and so rang up ICI and GRI from Charing Cross station and told each others company that the other had gutrot and (blatantly obvious at 1215) he would not be in today. Then further along the Strand and got some free colour film from Dixons, then turned back and headed for Carnaby Street, which took us a considerable time, but eventually found the Carnaby Market, and Bruno downstairs selling wigs and theatre tickets, and obviously prospering - he took in £100 yesterday, and God only knows what it must be like on Saturdays. Seemed please to see me, “the photographer who took all those wonderful photos of the group in Germany”. Might be able to get me some more work some time. Then off - he was really too busy to talk for any length of time - and to the Science Museum to see how things were there, and they have quite an enormous collection of things - was particularly intrigued by the wierd and wonderful but unlikely methods of motor travel developed in the early 20th century as well as the great collection of Daguerreotypes and Calotypes in the photographic section. Then off back to Maidenhead, just missing the rush hour, and back to Paul's place, where we had some tea and porridge, after the preparation of which we discovered Paul had no sugar, so down to Tescos to get some at 1815, and just managed to convince them that it was urgent. Then messed around with Paul's bike - after clearing and setting the plug, it fired all right. Off still later to buy some fish and chips, and after eating these I went home and got everything packed, and had a much-needed bath, then early to bed.


Thursday, 3 April 1969 WGC → So'ton → Sandown
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Watch stopped sometime in the middle of the night, and I woke up at some indeterminate hour after dawn, and eventually - a rather inspired guess - got up at round 0745, and got everything more or less sorted out with my packing, etc, and off to work, arriving actually early for once. One think I notice about Richard Cooper is that he leaves me a lot more to myself than John did - doubtless I am a bit of a problem for him anyway, and he is only too glad to get me out of his hair. In to the fume cupboard area (it is about time I gave that particular part of the lab a name), and decided that it would be a good idea to get hold of some ethylene, so over to the high pressure labs and saw Tom Kiff, who unfortunately had one, so back with the thing to the fume lab (how's that?), and set up yet another low pressure polymerisation. Then back outside and sat down, wondering outside the tea break how best to waste the day. Came to no conclusion by lunch time except that I was hungry, so off to lunch, and then to the car to create some sort of order, and return the track setting guage and axle stands, then back to “work”, which consisted of lighting a pipe, observing that nothing much was happening in the reaction pot, but nevertheless enough to make it worthwhile continuing with the reaction, so after finishing my pipe rang up Clive Higgs, who was apparently a little annoyed that I had not confirmed with him in writing that I was no longer working in Welwyn Garden City, but who nevertheless said he would have a Green Card ready on Tuesday. Then did a bit of thinking, and decided that, in view of the lovely weather, it would be a shame to waste my time in the lab, so finished (albeit scantily) my Easter tidy-up, and off at 1600 hrs, bumping into Alex Harness on the way out. Got some tobacco from home, then off in the direction of Watford, where I decided to see if I could get hold of a new spot glass for my car, and it eventuated that I could, so bought one, and back out, having a tangle with a rather officious traffic warden in the process, with the result that I nearly got booked. Then on, and picked Paul up at 1815, and on to Southampton (where I had arranged with Shari to leave my car), and avoided Reading by a quite neat way which I must remember in future. Arrived in So'ton at about 2000 hrs, and then left the car and into town by bus, just connecting with the ferry to Cowes, where we made an equally good connection with Jenny and Malcolm, who had come to pick us up. I rather like Malcolm, even if he is rather quiet - not really the sort of bloke I had expected him to be. Still, same old home-coming. Prince [dog] remembered me, and seemed more pleased at my home coming than at Paul's. Had makan, talked a lot, and of to bed in Jenny's room - Jenny is in Paul's.


Friday, 4 April 1969 Sandown
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Good Friday

Up early enough this morning, though already the usual matinal sounds were well under way. Down to find Ann about and about to go and spend the day with Lesley, and Jenny studying in bed - things really don't change much here, do they? Then gave Jenny my book to read, and off with Paul to breakfast. The more I look at this happy domestic scene, which had me so blissfully enraptured 3 years ago, the less it appeals to me. I have changed since then - hardened, matured, or become more cynical - or maybe the three are all the same thing, though I don't feel like thinking much about it right now. Jenny must have eventually got up, but in the meantime Paul and I were wondering how to spend our time and coming to very little conclusion about same. the weather was once again glorious - I hope it stays thus while Dad is here - and so went of for a walk to the bottom of the lane, examining a brand new Mini Traveller in the process, talking to Paul about points to watch when buying a Mini Van, why to fit a sump guard, etc. Then back, sat in the caravan for a while and wondered about the pros and cons of buying a caravan to live in. Then inside, where Jenny and Malcolm were in the courting stages of love-making, and had makan, after which there was some argument as to who should do the drying up, and in particular as to why Paul should not help. Then back to the lounge room and read for a while, then Jenny and Malcolm off for a drive in the car, and Paul and I had nothing to do, so off to sleep. Woke round 1600 hrs, and, on instigation from Mrs. Hallett off alone with Prince up onto Brading Down with Jenny's Edixa and Meritar, and took a few photos. Arrived back down again, just in time for tea, after which we watched TV until supper time and everybody went to bed except Paul and I. After a bit of talking, Paul discovered I had not seen his photos taken in Germany, so set up the projector and watch. Then to bed and spoke till late about various classifications of animal life.


Saturday, 5 April 1969 Sandown → So'ton → Tun.Wells
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Up somewhat later this morning, after listening at some length to Jenny and Malcolm revelling in the fact that the former was now 19, and down myself to wish her a happy birthday. Then came, as ever, breakfast, albeit a little delayed today, and then I thought it would be no bad idea were I to put some distance between myself and Greenwood farm, so waited until Paul's father came back with the car, but he would not let Paul take me to Cowes, as the clutch was slipping - which sounds very much like an excuse to me. In any case, the long and short of it was that I had to find alternative means of transport, and decided to travel by bus or thumb, whichever were to prove the quicker, and this proved to be the thumb, which nevertheless took until 1200 before I was at Ryde Esplanade with a ticket to Southampton in my pocket. The crossing to Portsmouth was quite uneventful - the weather was idyllic apart from a strong wind, and I sat on the sun deck the whole time. Then bought Autocar in Portsmouth, to discover that an Imp had won my class of the Mobil Economy run with 53 odd mpg [5.3 l/100 km], which I do not consider impossible for my car, and a Mini had only done 43 [6.5 l], which I would almost certainly have bettered. Also read that Lucien Bianchi is dead - sad day. Felt sadder about that than anybody except Jim Clark a year ago. Changed at Portsmouth and Southsea, and sat watching the weather and people until Southampton, where I walked to the Mc.Gibbons, which took me 35 minutes, but did not noticably tire me. Found Jim trying to make an inlet gasket for a rather wierd-looking Canadian motor mower, which he eventually did, and in the meantime was offered a much-needed lunch, after which I took my leave and set off along remarkably empty roads to Tun. Wells, making good time and arriving at about 1830, to find Sonny in his new flat, which is very nice and spacious. Bev is with him, and they have been spending an idyllic easter, even though Sonny's car has broken down and is causing him some worry. Had some makan, during the cooking of which Sonny and I went off to Westwood to get some stuff for him, and met Jo's boyfriend, who told me the Old Grey Mare cylinder head I showed him was a carter, which I know damn well means sump. Nevertheless a nice bloke. Had a not very inspired makan, then off to the Bull for a drink, after which we went down to look for Sonny's friend Graham to get hold of an amplifier, but nobody was home. Back later to the Bull for some off-license beer - they did not even realise I had been gone. Late to bed.


Sunday, 6 April 1969 Tun. Wells → London → Tun. Wells
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There is something about an alarm clock which inspires terror in the heart of a man who still physically needs 4 hours of sleep, especially if it is loud. Up at 0515 as a result thereof, and can testify as to the loudness by the fact that it woke Sonny and Bev as well. Got up and ready in quite worthwhile time, and were actually off by 0545, as opposed to ETD of 0600. Got some petrol the other side of Hildenborough, and then on through Bromley and along Sonny's South Circular Road detour, which deposited us pretty smartly at Earl's Court, whence it was quite easy to arrive at the beginning (and therefore the end) of the M4,

Seen from 2016, this sounds like a seriously sub-optimal way to get there. The South Circular Road went there directly. But surprisingly that's exactly one of the routes that Google Maps suggests.

and so arrived at Heathrow at only 0705, as opposed to Dad's ETA of 0810, which was subsequently modified to 0830. Eventually he arrived, and shortly after 0900 we were under way, and true to predictions I terrified a Dad frozen by the recent warm spell, by taking the first roundabout hard. Back pretty straight to Tun. Wells, talking (as usual - this is very reminiscent of any pickup from any airport) 20 to the 12, and spoke about, inter alia, the Asia trip and the 1972 marathon, both of which interest Dad more than he let on. Got home, and he was intent on showing his birthday card (“May the bluebird of happiness ....... crap all over your birthday cake”), which, he claimed, only an Aussie could do — until I pointed out that the card had on the back “Lithographed in Canada”. Then had a bite to eat, and Dad got tired, and Sonny and I set off to pick up Graham's amplifier, diverging on the way to Flimwell to see if an absent Ernie were there, and then back with the amplifier to the flat, where yet slept Dad. Later on he and Bev (also dormant) came to, and we contemplated the evening. Eventually off to the Curry Inn for a very worthwhile makan, whence I emerged positively bloated, and then off, after looking for a closed funfair, to Fletching and the Griffin, where we had a drop, then on to the Piltdown Man for another, then home, having no little trouble with the car in the process - felt like fuel starvation, such as failing pump or similar, but when we tightened up the ignition coil lead, it stopped, so happily home to a late bed.


Monday, 7 April 1969 Tun. Wells and around
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Today it was Dad who woke me at some advanced hour, expressing the opinion that he could not understand how Sonny and I (who were together in bed) could sleep so long. Got out of bed after observing that we had divided things so that I had the bedclothes and Sonny the bed, and out to observe the wonderful weather and contemplate a trip to Brand's Hatch today. Dad told me of his journey down to the Caumas [?], then we had a token breakfast, and Trev came along to hear of the fate of Sonny's car, and to offer a few constructive criticisms and suggestions as to where we could get the thing fixed up. Then set off for Brands, and after a while the car started playing up as it had last night, and so we pulled into a garage on the A20 and examined things in more detail, and took the top off the carb and cleaned things out - there was quite a bit of grot in the float chamber - and cleaned out the jets.

One design mistake on this car was the lack of a fuel filter and jets at the very bottom of the float chamber, where in particular the secondary jet could get clogged. I have had to clean it out several times on two different vehicles.

While at it, checked the outflow from the fuel pump, and this seemed the likely cause - output was very weak - but decided that this was due to an airlock, and decided this was gone after leaving it idling for a while.

That doesn't make sense. How would an air lock form under these circumstances?

Changed our minds about 100 yards out of the place when it started all over again. Headed back for Tun. Wells, a very long and laborious task, and ended up using gravity feed, which unfortunately was not helped by the float needle spring, so I ended up blowing into the oil can with the petrol in to maintain sufficient pressure - nothing can describe the trouble we had. Had makan in Tonbridge, then back and fitted Sonny's [electric] SU pump to my car, which made a lot of rattling, bus certainly delivered enough fuel, and so proved that the fault lay in the pump. Off with Dad primarily to wash the car, but the place was not open, so then off for petrol, so Dad started telling me about his visit to a psychiatrist in Singapore called Wong, who apparently helped relationships between Mum and Dad no little bit.

My recollection was that some months before we had decided that my mother needed psychiatric help, and we decided that my father should go too so that she would have no excuse. My recollection on the current occasion was that my father quoted Wong as saying, “Mr. Lehey, I can't see anything wrong with you, but I have my grave doubts about your wife”.

Then bought some fish and chips and back home, after which Sonny and Bev went off in my car to Maidstone to see a film, and Dad and I went on a pub crawl which ended up at the Poking restaurant with a nasi goreng. Sonny and Bev picked us up on the way back, as they had no key.


Tuesday, 8 April 1969 Tun. Wells → London → Reading → Tun. Wells
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Dad in this morning to wake me and advise me that we had 45 [or 15?] minutes until it turned 0830 and we were to be under way, so up as snappily as possible and spent the next 10 minutes inducing Sonny to do likewise. Eventually got Sonny up, and had time for a cup of coffee before the three of us set off for London. That in itself was a bit of an experience, especially as Dad was not expecting anything like even an average London traffic. Still managed to arrive in Sackville St. at only 1015 for what it was worth: there was no mail there for Dad.

This was at the Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac) London branch, who offered a mailing address for customers.

Then up to Bryanston Square to see about what proved to be a more than copious quantity of chartered flights back to KL this summer. Decided that we might as well leave the car there while we were at it, as there was free parking, and first to the nearest Wimpy Bar to make up for an almost total lack of sleep, after which back down to the bank to see if any mail had arrived for Dad - still none - while Sonny tried to trace a Mitsuba electric fuel pump, to no avail - not even JETRO knew where we could get hold of one. Then down to the AA with intent to buy a Guide Michelin, which we did despite the price of 30/-, and at the same time rang up Paul Emery Motors and thus traced the elusive Mitsuba. Then back to the car - by this time it was decidedly hot, and we stripped down to our shirtsleeves [!] - and then out to Fulham Palace Road to look for Paul Emery, and apart from the pump talked quite a bit with the man himeslf, who offered to do Sonny's [cylinder] head up at terms which were apparently quite acceptable to the latter. Then off to see Citroën in Slough, and they suggested that in the circumstances we left it to Citroén in Paris.

Presumably this referred to the failed fuel pump and the fact that we would soon be in Paris.

Along to Reading to get my Green Card - somehow or another Higgs is of the opinion that he owes me £18 odd, so did not attempt to change his mind, and along to another bloke to get what proved to be a very competitive insurance quotation - £26 less 33⅓%, £5 for a comp green card for 2 weeks. Then off back to Tun. Wells, during which Sonny and Dad went to sleep, and back in Tun. Wells bought some fish and chips. Found Trev and Angie at home, ready to tow Sonny to Uckfield, and then had makan, after which Dad and I made a dash to 7oaks to see “2001”, only it was “Cinderella” and “The Horse in the Grey Flannel suit” instead. Home, Dad to sleep, and Sonny and I off to Westwood to borrow a dictionary from Jo, and then had a drop to drink. Came home and did little before going to bed, other than interfering in Sonny's lovelife.


Wednesday, 9 April 1969 Tun. Wells → (France) Abbeville Images for 9 April 1969
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Up much as usual, and spend a good deal of time contemplating what we should do in order to make a reasonable start in getting off to France today. Came to an eventual conclusion that Sonny would need considerable transport round Kent and Sussex this morning if he wanted his car back at any time in the forseeable future, so off with him in my car and to see what we could do in the way of getting bits for his car. This consideration resulted in an immediate trip to Flimwell, where we loaded Sonny's old engine (or at any rate the remaining bits of it) into the back of my car, and set off for Five Ash Down to see if they could use any of it in the rehash of the 1000 cc engine. This proved to be the case - to our surprise, and against the opinion of Paul Emery, it proved that the cam pully locating pin had sheared, not doing the pully much good in the process, and that the timing was approx 90° out, which was what I had suspected.

Amusingly, this wasn't the last time valve timing was way out. About 3 years later, in Singapore and with a racing car, it happened again, and once again the mechanics didn't listen to me until they had investigated a number of less plausible options.

Blokes reckoned they would have the new cam in in an hour, so back to town, where Sonny got a cheque book, and back home to pay Dad for the money he borrowed yesterday. Then did the final stage of packing, and off again via town in the direction of 5 ash Down, where we dropped Sonny and set off in a roundabout direction to Dover.

Eventually arrived at Dover at about 1445, and discovered a boat to Calais leaving at 1630, so we just had time to buy our tickets and have some food before loading. Thank God the boats to Calais don't take long! We were off not long after 1800 and after adjusting to the old priorité à droite, got on fairly smoothly along the N1 in the direction of Boulogne, then inland, and after a bit of searching round in Montreuil, on to Abbeville, which we reached before we knew it and booked in, after a bit of messing around, into the Hôtel de France, which was not very cheap, but quite nice, and had a quite worthwhile makan with ended up costing more than the room for the night. Bev and Dad were exhausted, so went fairly early to bed.


Thursday, 10 April 1969 Abbeville → Paris
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Up round about 0900, and discovered that we had surprisingly few preliminaries and so in a matter of 15 minutes set off out down the street trying to find some food for the day, which we eventually did at the somewhat staggering price of 19 NF. Then set off again along the N1 in the direction of Paris, and noted a definite improvement in the condition of the roads as we approached this capital - something has obviously improved in this car, which will now tear along at 75 [mph, 120 km/h] with only one choke open - or possibly it is just the wind and the ram effect of the air filter. Belted past an English MG midget about 40 mph [65 km/h] faster than he - why do the Poms drive so slowly? Arrived in Paris just before noon, and looking for the Rue de Magenta, which proved to be just by the Gare du Nord, and there found the Hôtel de l'Europe, which Dick Berryman had recommended to Dad. The place was full, and Dad did not think much of Montmatre, and so set off on an not too unsuccessful search for the Quartier Latin, and found a grotty little pub on the edge for 10 NF per nicht, though it involved a stay at a nearby (nearby? huh!) hôtel call the Unic in the Rue de Rennes not far from the Gare Montparnasse. Weather was again hot, and we were all somewhat irritable. Left Bev at the pub and off to look for a Citroën agent, and found one just round the corner, who presented some positively staggering bills for changing the door - 170 odd NF without painting and 370 NF for relining the brakes, which seemed positively unbelievable, and so decided to leave that until we get back to England.

By comparison, Middleton Motors had quoted me £20 for the door with painting, about 240 NF.

Obviously there is a good reason why the Pommies buy their spare parts in Belgium.

Sure. It was closer. I had no evidence that the prices were lower in Belgium.

Let the car there with the promise of a new door by tomorrow morning, and off to get Bev and head off by the Métro to the Place de l'Étoile, where, after a roundabout route, we found the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Élysées, but more to the point, the Avenue de la Grande Armée with its car accessory shops. Was quite staggered when I found the price of Cibié Oscars: 98 NF each, where they were obtainable. I will just wait until we get back to England.

Why were the prices generally so much higher? Was it because we were in the middle of Paris, because we didn't know where to buy things, or because the cost of living in England was really lower? At the time there were still fixed exchange rates, so the last could be the clue.

Joined Dad and Bev again, a little depressed, and the up the Arc de Triomphe and its 279 steps (according to Bev), had a look at the famous traffic in the Place de l'Étoile, and eventually back to Montparnasse Bienvenüe, where we drank expensive coffee at a roadside Café. Home eventually to the hôtel, where we had a a shower in the primitive prefab bathroom, then off into the Quartier Latin (we think) for makan, which took a long time with the service. Walked around a bit after that, and then home, none too late, though Dad and Bev were exhausted and extinguished early.


Friday, 11 April 1969 Paris
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Up early enough this morning - Dad has obviously achieved long ago what has taken me years of vain attempts, to get up in a morning at substantially the same time irrespecitive of what I have done the night before or what lays ahead of me. In any case, we got up in due course and after a while headed down for breakfast, only to discover that there was no dining room and that we were expected to have it in our room. Up again, and it was brought in due course, after which - and it took its time with its long lumps of bread - we packed our barang and headed downstairs with same, then round the corner to where the car was ready - cost 180 NF odd, as they had had some complication or another, but it was not a bad job. Out with same and looking for the Jardin de Luxembourg, which we found without all too much trouble, and spent a while looking round there - quite nice, and with some quite incredibly trained trees - they were obviously experimenting with the things. Then out again, and coffee at a nearby café, and then back to the car via a post office, and off to look for the Palais du Louvre, and had a while finding a parking space, but eventually created one (“Quick, quick, show me the Mona Lisa - I'm triple parked!”), and spent the next hour walking up through the Jardins des Tuileries, nothing world-shattering (at least, not to my mind), though it looked nice looking back up the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Finally into the Musée du Louvre at 3 NF par tête and found definitely the most interesting things to be the Greek and Roman antiquities - Vénus de Milo [isn't that Greek?] and Mona Lisa (when we found the latter) left me cold. Then out again for another salami roll, and back along the Tuileries to the car. Circled a couple of times around the Place de la Concorde before finding our way out, then back to the Rue de Rennes to change hôtels. Did that with only minor complications associated with the mislayal of the receipt for the money we had paid, and then upstairs and miraculously went out like lights until some comparatively advanced hour - Dad had been for a walk, but both he and Bev are getting fed up with Paris, and contemplating an early return to England, even if we have to forfeit some of what we have paid for the room here - which is, admittedly, the least of our worries. After a while off to look for somewhere to have makan, and then decided to eat at some Bulgarian or Romanian place, where we were well served by and English-speaking Italian waiter, and had quite an enjoyable meal. After that walked round the Quartier Latin at some length, and then back and yet again early to bed, despite all the sleep we had this afternoon.


Saturday, 12 April 1969 Paris
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Up again none too late - just at times I wish Dad had the ability to get up at a somewhat later hour than seems to be the case. In any case, this morning he might have had a point, since the weather, initially not too bad, got considerably worse even by the time we got up and had our breakfast sent up to us. After that, with vague thoughts of examining Versailles, set out to the car, but I felt like seeing if I could get a workshop manual before the shops closed, particularly when one considers that we were to return to England tomorrow. At the first place we were going to go to, there was not much, and what there was was out of date, so up to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and to the Citroën showroom, where I saw a couple of Ami 8's and was given an address in the Ave. de la Grande Armée to get my books. Then out to the rain and to look for Dad and Bev, who eventually found me in the car. Had some exorbitantly expensive coffee and cake in a nearby café, then along to the Ave. de la Grande Armée and and got a book, though not the Citroën workshop manual, which is unobtainable/out of print. Then off to Versailles, while it brightened up considerably. Then got a fill of petrol, and discovered a distressingly low oil level in the sump, which occasioned a rather bad mood all the way to Versailles. There the weather was still quite dry, and the only problem was the violent wind, which had been sufficient to make us to decide not to go round the garden, and just had a look round the château itself. That was quite luxurious, though I am not particularly interested in such things. After that, gave all up and went driving a bit round Versailles, after which we found what we thought to be a little pub and had some makan, which was nothing fantastic, though admittedly plentiful, and we absolutely stuffed ourselves. Then back via what must have been a rather roundabout way, and then back to the hôtel and went to sleep.

Woke up again just about round makan time, and so out again for a walk, though we did little else - Bev and Dad were not hungry, and so had only a salad, much to the amusement of the waitress, and I had a goulasch, which was none too good. After that, off to have a final look round the place before leaving, then back to pack and none too late to bed.


Sunday, 13 April 1969 Paris → Boulogne → Tun. Wells
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Up early enough this morning, with the same promise of good weather that we had had yesterday, and rang up to order breakfast, only to discover that we would not be able to get it for well over an hour, so decided to do without it and get something en route. Then spent no small time trying to get out of Paris, but going round in circles - say what Dad will, I think I ought to get a compass for the car. In any case, in due course were on the open road, driving into a headwind which kept us down to 58 mph [93 km/h] on the flat, nothing to be proud of. Had breakfast at a place called Magny,

There are many Magnys in France, but none of them seem to fit the itinerary, unless we were seriously lost.

where we should have turned off the main road, but did not. Found our way eventually aright, then went cross-country nearly to Abbeville, and halfway I decided to give Dad the wheel, and he did not do too badly, once he had worked out where the 4th gear was.

The gear shift on the Citroën Ami 6, like the 2CV, was dash-mounted, with a push and tilt mechanism, and 4th was by itself on the right. On this particular car it was also not easy to engage.

He handed back to me in Abbeville, and we made good time from there to Boulogne, at whose Hoverport we arrived at 1230 hrs, and booked a float to Dover at 1520, then into town for a quite good makan. Back at 1430 for the ticket, only to be told that a mistake had been made, and we couldn't get on after all. Swore, drove round Boulogne, and then thought that maybe there would be some cancellations, so off back again, and somehow Dad did his best and got us on. Took a long time to take off, but not long after that the get to Dover. Sensation is rather like a rough plane, or travelling over a very bumpy surface in the boot of a Citroën DS, in slow motion. Then through passport control, and (easier) customs, and were told at Townsends that Dad's film had indeed been seen, and that we would have to get it tomorrow. Then off, slowly, to Tun. Wells, where we found a rather distraught Sonny with Trev and 2 engines in pieces in the living room. Out with Jim for some food and to Westwood, while he told me a rather fantastic story about some trouble Shari was in, then later off with him again, and with Larry, for a vain attempt to get hold of some birds - Larry and I paid for the booze, Jim got the girl.


Monday, 14 April 1969 Tunbridge Wells → London → Tunbridge Wells
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This page was the first to be transcribed, forty years later in April 2009, shortly after my father's death. The rest was transcribed over 7 years later. At the time I tried to compensate for the single-paragraph style of most diary entries. Later I stuck more closely to the original.

Up early enough this morning, instigated mainly by Larry's brother shouting at Jim, who was still asleep, but supposed to be waiting outside for Larry to take him to college. He got out pretty quickly, and we got out pretty soon after that. Then had some coffee, and dropped Sonny at college—he had apparently seen fit to go to college today, so that they do not completely forget about him.

Dad and I then went into London, the usual long dreary journey, and arrived at the bank, the centre and beginning of all our London activities, not long after opening, and after circling round for a while while I let Dad off and did my best to hang around for a while while he got his mail, which proved to be a rather long letter from Mum giving a considerable amount of news, including the news that she is still trying to write me a letter.

Then off to BOAC, which involved me in a parking space, and Dad got a new ticket. Back to the bank for some money, then up to Oxford Street and H&G supplies, and ascertained that they had nothing like Oscars, then took Dad up to Malaysia Hall in Bryanston Square, and myself to a place in Edgeware Road, which neither had any Oscars, nor had much idea where I could get any.

“Oscar” is the name of a series of auxiliary headlights made by Cibié, and used by rally drivers. My car was a Citroën Ami 6, but I liked to think of myself as a rally driver. My father didn't agree for some reason—thus his ill humour later in the day.

Found Dad again, and then had makan in the Wimpy by Marble Arch, and up the road a bit to see “if...” again, which impressed Dad considerably, and gave me further food for thought, though now I do not like it as much as I did the first time, especially having come to the conclusion that one of the Crusaders was a queer.

Out and tried in vain to contact Britova (Continental) and in a bad mood, not helped by Dad, in the direction of Tun. Wells. Stopped at a few places en route, and finally, at SIPD in Bromley, struck gold with the news that I would have a couple of Cibiés at SIPD in Tun. Wells on Wednesday morning, at the standard price—Dad had calmed down a bit by this time.

Then home and found Sonny back, and shortly later, while I was messing around with the head of the Old Gray Mare, Jim arrived, feeling none too happy, and quickly disappeared into his room and did some work, then out with Larry to some place or another.

Hung about in the evening, doing little—took Sonny and Bev to Westwood and had intended to visit Annette to get my flash gun, but could not find her. It wood [sic] not have made much difference: she had come here with the thing, and it was buggered, many thanks to her. Did little else in the evening, apart from talk to Jim about his latest flop when he returned.


Tuesday, 15 April 1969 Tun. Wells → Dover → Tun. Wells
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Had intended to get up extremely early this morning, but somehow it did not work out, so again up round about the time Jim was due to leave, and off in the direction of Dover to pick up Dad's film, somewhat too late, and hit a fair amount of traffic, and even though we made quite good time, the tool box (i.e. my old tuck box from Kestrels, all those years ago, still going strong, and capable of knocking great dents in the wheel arches at the back.) made a nuisance of itself. Arrived at Dover around 1030, and spent more than a little time there looking for the Townsend offices, in Down [? can't find on map] street, which we eventually found, and Dad got his film back, however without the exposed one, which he assumes, likely enough, to have have been sent on to Hemel Hempstead, especially as it was already addressed.

Hemel Hempstead was the headquarters of Kodak in the United Kingdom, where the only processing laboratory for Kodachrome was located. Quite possibly that was this film, taken from an Super 8 film I took at the time:


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All images taken on Wednesday, 9 April 1969, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 9 April 1969, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 9 April 1969

 

And yes, the images really were that poor quality.

Then back again, buying some tobacco in Folkestone, and shortly before Ashford, just as I had observed that my guarantee expires today,

Only a 6 month guarantee!

suffered from what seems likely to have been a blocked primary main [carburettor] jet, though, after a good deal of spluttering and jerking through Ashford, it again disappeared without a trace. Back at about 1230, and found Sonny there, alledgedly having been to college, though I have my doubts. Had a bite to eat, and after a bit of debating into the town to buy a few things, including, finally, a carpet for thee car, though, as I feared, it had to be stitched together. Dad claimed to be good at this, and so spent a further while looking for carpet stitching implements, and back, where I did a bit of work on the car, cleaning out the cabin mainly, and gave Dad the old carpet as a template for the new - he did a very good job, doubtless better than I could have done, and apart from a slight error in one of the holes, the thing looks perfect. It is almost impossible to detect the seam. The car looks a lot better for that and the cleaned seats, as well as the wash which Dad, unable to stand the mess any longer, insisted on giving it. In the evening, despite a great desire to see Lesley Cannings again, stayed behind and watched Dad's films, including a new one which did, in fact, show about 5 seconds of Lesley in a swimming pool tickling the sole of an unidentified foot. Then read my book and listened to Jim's latest tale of woe.


Wednesday, 16 April 1969 Tun. Wells
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Up yet again at much the same time, and had a token breakfast before taking Dad and Bev to the station so that they could go to London. Sonny came with us - he seems yet again disinclined to do much work at college, though his explanation that he is afraid to let Trev alone with his car bears water. In any case, dropped the ciné projector, which we had hired, and after buying something at Rawsons, headed back to the flat to pick up Trev, then off to Frasers to look in vain for an Imp/Weber throttle linkage, and had a conversation with a friendly mechanic with violent language. Then into Tun. Wells and to SIPD, after a vain attempt to get hold of any money - my cheque book has (again) run out, and discovered that it made little difference, as the Oscars had, predictably, not arrived. Swore a little, but there was little to do about it. Back to the flat, had some fish and chips, then Trev and Sonny set to work on his, while I had a look at the Old Grey Mare cylinder head, and cleaned it up somewhat. Then out to have a look at the Ami, and was just contemplating spraying the interior paintwork matt black when Annette and her friend Mary arrived, and the former apologised for the flash gun. Then set to her and removed her necklace, which had some handy washers on it, and gave her some spring ones instead. She seemed uninterested, however, in the offer of an old valve to add to the collection. Then I got back to the car and spent a while cleaning out the engine compartment, including the bonnet sound dampening, and was just adjusting the brakes when one of Sonny's teachers arrived and wanted to have a chat with him, which had somewhat serious consequences.

I suppose that if you intend to skip school, you should live further away. Sonny was in 17 Broadwater Down, if I recall correctly, about 300 m from the college at the end of Broadwater Down.

He accordingly went off to school, while Trev, Annette (who had decided to stay the afternoon) and I took Sonny's car down to have the head torqued up. Then back and I finished my brakes, while Annette, who has been tarting around, asked me to teach her to drive. Then off to get some Jubilee Clips, and after that finished my chassis lubrication and changed the oil out in the country. Inside to recover for a while, until Sonny came in and asked what was likely to cause backfiring through the carbs, so out to see an enormous flame shoot out of the No. 1. carb, so messed around with the ignition timing until light and Trev failed us, and Dad and Bev came home. Later on out with Dad to the George in Robertsbridge, and had a couple of pints, and back to catch up with a sorely neglected diary.


Thursday, 17 April 1969 Tun. Wells
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Up late this morning, partially because, owing to Jim getting himself a case of the flu, I had opted to sleep on the floor. Eventually came to, to find Jim still in bed, feeling none too well, and Dad making some breakfast, so joined in with him, and shortly later we were joined by Bev and Jim. Then worked out what proved to be an immense shopping list, and in with Dad to eliminate the same, starting at Sainsbury's, which got rid of most of it, as well as over £4. Then off to look for some of the more exotic things, as well as various car parts. Accordingly to SIPD, and there ascertained that my lights were on the way, and also did a bit more asking around, which led me along to Halfords, where I bought some bolts and tools, and after that along to Rawsons, but found them shut, and so to look for the House of Pepper, which was also shut. Then Dad got flakers, and so I had to take him home, and Sonny was there, and so we had a bite to eat, and then round to have a look for a few more thinks for the car - got some gear oil, which might be of use, and then along to Rawson's to look for some fuel pipe and a workshop manaul for an Imp, and got neither. Then to Gaedons, where we got nothing more than the advice to go to Mile's garage, which we did, and I got my fuel pipe and Sonny got his jump leads, and then back to the flat to work on our respective cars. I did a bit of preliminary work on my fuel pump, and then helped Sonny with his car, sparked off my battery, after a while of which we managed to get the thing going, and made a hell of a clatter, which attracted Dad, who then started taking come ciné of our activities.

This culminated in the fitting of the pump, and the discovery that the pump still fouled the air filter, so moved the thing about 2" to the left, which helped somewhat, though it is still a bit tight. Then tried abortively to change the gear oil, and in to have makan, after which Sonny and Bev went off to see a flick, and Dad and I stayed at home and did little. Not too late to bed.


Friday, 18 April 1969 Tun. Wells
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Up, as usual, in time to take Dad into town to go to London, and then into town to get a few other things. Had a look round for some bolts for Sonny, to no avail, then tried to get his battery, but was told it would not be ready till this afternoon. Then across to SIPD, where the bearded bloke (suspect queer) produced for me a couple of Oscar fogs, which I had never expected to be there. Bought a spare bulb in the process, which, along with the brackets, effectively swallowed up my £3 deposit. Then back home and did a bit of fitting of the lamps - the went on quite well, and took surprisingly little rewiring on the part of the fog circuits. It is, of course, difficult to ascertain the quality of a fog in the daytime, but they seemed bright enough. Then inside to rest myself for a while - had a slight sore throat and felt not the best. Then Jim and Sonny returned, followed closely by Annette and a lass called Ingrid, who was either coloured or unwashed, or possibly both. Annette was very friendly, and wanted my flash for the weekend (thus the friendliness). Then she left, I took Sonny into college, and then to look for Sonny's battery, but arrived too early, so went to the Wimpy for a while and considered my headlight wiring, then to Country Electrical to discover that the battery was still inoperative, and home to give Jim a pep talk and to rewire my foglamps. That I did, switching the fogs either to the pilot lights or the headlights, and not bypassing the dip lights as I did before. Inside, and hung around for a while, and then Sonny came back and went outside to connect up his fuel pump in the front. After a while he knocked on the door, and when I opened it, he fell in, clutching the pump in one hand and his eyes in the other. Washed his eyes out, while Bev, despite Sonny's protests, called an ambulance, which arrived after about 10 minutes. Followed Sonny to the hospital in my car, and then waited around while they washed out his eyes and put some patches on the same. Conducted him back home, then off to pick Dad up, and home with some fish and chips for makan. Later on Trev came by, and saw how Sonny was getting on, and then came out with me to see how my lights were - absolutely fantastic, and very useful also on dipped beam. Sold my old lights to Trev for £6 while I was at it, and then back. Quite some time later arrived Jim and Larry, whom we told, and apparently they believed, that Sonny had seen a blinding column of light, which had been the cause of his bad luck. Then took them out for a ride in the car, and terrified Larry, who had never been it before, and thought we were going to tip up. All impressed with the lights.


Saturday, 19 April 1969 Tun. Wells
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Up again none too early - by the time I came to to find Sonny still asleep and softly moaning (or it might have been snoring), we were already due at the hospital. Got up and had breakfast, and took Sonny's eyepads off for him. Then off into town, and to the hospital, where we were kept waiting an inordinately long time, which Sonny used trying to persuade me to ask Nurse Simmons for a date because she walked like me. Eventually Sonny had his eyes passed and we went back out into the open and to County Electrical, where I bought a couple of clear bulbs for my headlights, and then Sonny got his battery back. To Sainsbury's to do some shopping, and got that over with pretty quickly by putting Sonny in the queue as soon as we arrived, while I got all the barang. Then to Mile's garage, where Sonny bought a couple of yards of petrol piping, and then back home, buying some cough mixture on the way, as I was coming down with my first noteworthy cold for many years - no thanks to Jim, who gave it to me anyway, for turning off the heaters last night.

Back at home, took some cough mixture, but carried on feeling worse, and so apart from putting my new plugs in - I am not too fond of the Bosch ones - and then went inside, and after a while Bev cooked some none-too-pleasant makan. Then sat down on the couch to shiver through the afternoon, though I was galvanised into action when I saw Sonny heading down the drive in his car. Then he came back, complaining of lack of torque, and sounding remarkably like a motorbike. Investigation showed that he was, in fact, only firing on 2, and in the other carb he found an unlikely float level, after whose remedy the thing went like a rocket. Then back inside again, and Sonny (finally) cooked his mee, which was in fact meehoon, and unfortunately I was not really feeling well enough to enjoy it. Later Bev and Sonny went out, and Trev came in singing the praises of Trev, then went out again for a while, and Sonny and Bev returned, apparently having had an argument. Bev finally refused to talk to Sonny, and Sonny took a hefty swig of vodka and set off somewhere in the car.

My recollection was that Sonny had received a letter from Shari, which in itself was rather unusual. Instead of letting Bev read it, he tore it up, flushed it down the toilet and said “See, that's how much Shari means to me”. I wasn't convinced either.


Sunday, 20 April 1969 Tun. Wells → Horsham → Tun. Wells
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Woke up in the middle of the night to find Sonny sitting in an armchair crying his eyes out, and Jim making a nuisance of himself asking him questions. Told Jim to leave him alone, but he would not. Then Sonny complained of not being able to breathe, and fell unconscious onto the floor. Jim and I carried him into Jim's room and laid him on the bed, and then I went and, with some opposition from Dad, called an ambulance. In the meantime Sonny stopped breathing altogether, which rather shocked us; I recovered first, and started giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and then Dad continued with more conventional means of artificial respiration. In the meantime, Bev was helping matters by crying her eyes out. The ambulance came - I have had more experience of calling ambulances this weekend than in all my life before - and pumped some oxygen into him, and then took him away. Followed on - I am getting rather used to this - and hung about while Bev controlled her tears and they decided that he would live. Then back home and had some tea, and sat round talking for a while until the hospital rang up and said that Sonny had regained consciousness, and that the doctor would like to have a talk with someone about him. Bev, Jim and I went back down and I had a talk with an Indian doctor who suspected him of having taken drugs, and then discharged him, saying there was nothing else to be done, just as a heart patient came in. Home and quick to bed.

What really happened? I don't know. The doctor really wanted to know what drug he had been taking in order to be able to treat him better, but I was never aware of Sonny taking drugs, though I wouldn't have put it past him, particularly under the circumstances.

Woke up round 1000 hrs, and had a quick snack before heading off to Horsham to see the Shipleys. Had no idea where the place was, and so rang Ivor from the station, who in due course came along in a new Jag Mark 2 and conducted us home. Almost as soon as we arrived, Dad, Ivor and I went out to the nearest pub and consumed no less than 3 pints of beer each in 1½ hours, somewhat above my normal load. Then back for an excellent makan, while I observed that their daughter Jane (who surely could not have been there before) was eligible if somewhat on the young side. Then we sat round and spoke at great length, while one of the other kids (Raiph, Rett, Ruth in that order - what a problem they must have calling them),

Obviously the first one was called Ralph, but I had never heard that name pronounced like that before.

dragged out a Dinky toy model of an Ami 6 - they are apparently all somewhat taken by the car. Had tea, and set off home some time after 1800. Kids examined the interior of the car and commented on how nice it was - nice for kids brought up on Jags. Got home pretty quickly, in only 45 minutes, quite a respectable time, and felt so tired that I went straight off to sleep and woke round 2130, and then off with Dad for a drive so he could see what my lights are like - he was impressed, but also scared.


Monday, 21 April 1969 Tun. Wells → London → Tun. Wells
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Dad in this morning, and suggested, somewhat to my surprise, that he go into London by train and that I come in later to see him off - I don't know what made him suggest that. In any case, got up and ready, while Dad presented me with a sausage sandwich for my trouble, and then I asked Sonny what he was going to do, and he agreed to come in with us to London, but in his car. Then Dad said something, and Sonny said he was not coming in until much later - wierd. In any case, loaded all Dad's barang into the car, and set off for the long, dreary drive into London, not helped by the weather, which was as I remember England when I first came here, 12 long years ago. I hope that in 12 years time I will be back in Australia. In any case, we made it into London, and I dropped Dad at the bank, then parked the car and went to meet Dad, who promptly wanted to go back to the car. Then by tube to Holborn, Red Lion Square and Toye, Kenning and Clarke, who made the Rotary Club spoons we have at home, but they had a new model out, not matching the old, and sent us round to a mob the other side of Kingsway, who said they did not touch Rotary stuff. Then had makan at a Wimpy Bar in Kingsway, which was, but virtue of one or the waiters, who much once have sold tickets for a fair, and who kept up a running commentary thought the meal. Even showed us the name of the place in the Good Coffee Guide, which must be a bit of an honour.

Then back to the West End, and bought a couple of diodes in Lisle st, and then picked up the car, and out to the airport. Had just booked Dad's bags in when he remembered to get some flowers for Mum, and so out to Slough to look for a florist, which was no easy job, and even when we found one, they had no roses. At the third attempt, in the Trading Estate, we were lucky, and Dad bought 6 rose buds at 3/- a go. Then back to the airport, and had a cup of coffee, then arrived Bev and Sonny, the latter with the news that his “1000 cc” block was in fact a bored out 875, and so he was annoyed and determined to be rid of same.

Then Dad left - how sad to be rid of him so soon! - and the only consolation is that in 6 weeks I shall be under way myself. Followed Bev and Sonny firing on 3 as far as Bromley, then cylinder 4 came into operation, and they belted away. Arrived in Tun. Wells at 1910, and to the Essoldo to see Lock up your Daughters, unfortunately not as good as I had hoped. Then back home, and had some makan, and without all too much further ado off to bed.


Tuesday, 22 April 1969 Tun. Wells → Welwyn Garden City
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Up round 1030 hrs this morning, with still no sign from Sonny and Bev. Out to the car, where I thought it might be a good idea to see if I could fit the couple of diodes to my light-flash circuit, but to no avail - the fitting would have been very Heath-Robinson, and so decided to go down town and see what fitments I could find to hold the things more securely in place. Could not find any nuts - apparently the electrical BA thread is different from the normal English threads; thank God everything is going metric soon -

Nearly 50 years later we still have the same mess.

but I did discover that the plug sleeves in Halfords would just accommodate the threaded end, and so took a couple of those. The back and set up the whole affair, but discovered, rather to my disappointment and definitely to my annoyance, that one of them was passing a back current. Maybe the current was too much for it; admittedly it was passing 16,7 A, and was only rate at 4,7 A continuous, but for a fraction of a second it could surely take that sort of overload.

Be that as it may, why did I buy diodes that could only handle a fraction of the load?

The only consolation was that I found the prices of a replacement in the innards of the dashboard, as well as 20 [French] centimes and 10 Pfennig. Then inside, out of the rain, and observing it to be 1300, and Bev due to leave from Paddington at 1430, tried to wake her and Sonny, but discovered that she had decided to stay until tomorrow. They came out eventually, apparently having made a night of it, and had breakfast, while it occurred to me that my nose was still not in perfect order.

Later on down into town, mainly on Bev's and Sonny's behalf, and there bought an extraordinary quantity of things just with small change, which was evidently more abundant than I had suspected. Inter alia bought a small compass which is mounted in a spherical container, which is as good a universal mounting as one could hope, though it appears unduly affected by local magnetic fields, even near the (aluminium) roof; near the wiper motor it swayed in sympathy with the wipers.

Back home, did little until Jim cam home, then off with him and a couple of boomerangs to do some throwing; I have finally worked out how to make a mediocre boomerang come back: it is just a question of throwing the thing higher, obviously impossible if you are trying to hit anything with it, but otherwise acceptable. Still a bit scaring when the thing embeds itself in the ground by your feet.

If my memory serves me right, it never came to that: I ran away first, so it's not clear how close it would have come.

Then back home and hung around for a while, had my hair cut and then the 3 of us went to the Curry Inn for makan, which, as usual, I did good justice to - it is odd how much rice I eat for a given amount of curry.

In the course of the decades I've come to the conclusion that Western restaurants just don't serve enough rice.

Then home again, and I did a bit of rudimentary packing (after all, I will be back here again on Friday), and then off to Wel Gar, where I arrived quite late and soon to bed.


Wednesday, 23 April 1969 WGC. Wells
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And back to the monotony of life! Up later than usual, as I imagined (incorrectly, as it happened) that I had no milk for breakfast, and just as I was about to go and wash, Mrs. Garrad beat me to it, which annoyed me no little. In to work, and time began to drag right from the start - will be glad when I get out of the place. After a bit of sorting out mail, including stuff from Inland Revenue, who wanted to know what I was doing between March and December last year,

Presumably I had registered with them when I did some part-time work in London in late February 1968.

and a letter from John in Wilton saying that he is setting up a Mini SEB and wants advice, and that he is also sending his own assistant, one John Bradley, that the same might get some worthwhile advice from me. All of a sudden my knowledge is in demand, at least by the 2 Johns. Then Lola and Richard Cooper decided that the best way I could amuse myself would be to have a go at the tensometer, which is something I have never yet done. Accordingly in and got Owen to show me the noper [?] - quite a nice little machine, really. Took some time getting set up, but managed to get a couple of sheets finished before lunch. After lunch, did remarkably little, then back at the tensiles again, and, rather to my surprise, this took me all afternoon. Then gathered together all the graphs and back to my desk to make the most of the last half hour. I hope I continue to do a lot of this clean work - I am getting just a little fed up with burning holes in my pants. Then went shopping, and back home for some coffee, and read a few test reports, which once again inspired me to buy a 1955 or later 15 - 6 with hydropneumatic rear suspension.

Then downstairs to cook makan, and Mrs Garrad was there waiting, to tell me her tale of woe. Joe seems to have effectively left the place a week ago, and now owes her 2 weeks rent, and she is understandably upset. Rather suspected something like that might happen, but what could I have done anyway? Had makan, then upstairs to read and later to bed - had intended to go out, but was too tired after makan.


Thursday, 24 April 1969 WGC → Tun. Wells → Horrabridge
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Up and downstairs as usual this morning, and this time Mrs. Garrad was up, which always slows me down somewhat. Then to work, and hung around for a while doing little before I decided I had better get down to the evaluation of the tensile graphs that I produced yesterday. After a while of this, Richard Cooper came along and asked me to make some catalysts for him, which I thought was rather nasty of him, since I have decided to do as little dirty work as possible. In any case, there was little to do but get down to it, and so got hold of a magnetic stirrer and started 3 side-by-side preparations - there is no doubt that these magnetic stirrers are a great improvement on the glass versions. Then left that for lunch, after which I went into town and got myself hold of a cheque book, and also bought a few magazines. In Exchange and Mart found what I had been looking for - a 1955 Citroën 15-6 with hydropneumatic rear suspension, only £40, but “partially dismantled, towable”. Thought about it for a while, but eventually, and very reluctantly, decided against on the grounds that I already had one traction in pieces, and the last thing I needed was another. Possibly when I am in Exeter I can keep an eye out for one. In the meantime saw a Panhard 1959 model (Dyna 16, I think) going for £50, which seems interesting, and as it was in Potter's Bar, decided to have a look. Finished making the catalyst, and then Sonny rang up to say that Bev was not feeling too well, and would I like to come down this evening and drive him to Devon? Thought about this, and decided that there were grounds to ask for a day off on the strength of this, and so went and saw Peter Clegg, got permission, and at the same time told him I wanted to resign. Told me to go and get Ann to write me a letter of resignation, and then I rang up Sonny and told him about the Panhard (about which he was quite enthusiastic) and that I would be down somewhere near 2100 hrs. Finished off the tensile calculation, which involved the Olivetti computer, and then off home, paid Mrs. Garrad for this month, and got my barang for the weekend and set off for Potter's Bar. Found Gregory Avenue (yes!) without too much trouble, and saw the car, which, for the age, is in remarkably good condition. The fellow drove me round in it, though he would not let me drive it, and before I had my chance, I put my foot in it [literally] by treading on the brake pedal and bursting a hydraulic pipe. He said he would see to that, and so I said I would have another look some time next week. Then off to Tun. Wells, arriving at about 2030, and had a 40 minute wait before we set off, deciding to go along the coast, as we suspected it would be quicker. All was not helped by a remarkably strong headwind, which, as a couple of weeks ago in France, kept me down to 60 mph [95 km/h]. Filled up at Lewes, then belted on non-stop to Dorchester, though the car was not idling too well, and stalled a couple of times at the lights. At Dorchester, stopped for some hamburgers at a mobile roadside Mini, and then on again to Honiton and Exeter, where we stopped again at the Peamore Garage for the usual. Then across the moor, but which time I was feeling bloody tired, and was only too glad to reach Grimstone and hop into Bev's bed.


Friday, 25 April 1969 Horrabridge → London → Tun. Wells
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Was woken at 0540, after little over 2 hours sleep, and felt absolutely dazed, so let Sonny drive across a misty moor, and lay down in the back and went off, gradually, to sleep. I am amazed at how much of this road I can recognise, just by the way the car moves: the cattle grid east of Dartmoor, the hills following, the bridge, the junction at the A38, the Exeter bypass and even the hump bridge at Clyst Honiton. Then I went to sleep and woke up somewhere near Alton, and took over, as Sonny was getting rather tired, and drove on to London, filling up again on the outskirts of Reading. In London, to the BMC showrooms and saw the new 1500cc Austin Maxi, distinguished by the ohc transverse engine with 5 speed box and the rear door as in the French breed of cars (like mine). Also has fully reclining seats front and rear. Then to buy another diode, and on the way back also bought a sleeping bag, which I trust will soon prove its worth. Then back to Tun. Wells, arriving at about 1330 hrs - it is amazing the amount of ground Sonny and I have covered since I arrived here all but 6 months ago.

So far over the weekend I had done 950 odd km.

Had a bite to eat, then down with Sonny to Brayleys in Five Ash Down, and drove it some of the way - there is no doubt that there is something wrong with the front axle, and I suspect that it is the track, which looks as if it is out. Also discussed with Brayleys whether they could drill a hole in my inlet manifold for me, which they appeared to be able to do, though not for a while.

Why? It should take less than a minute. Maybe they wanted to remove the manifold first.

Then off back to Tun. Wells, with Sonny scoring Crowborough for a wheel snot [?], and had intended to go on to Coulsdon to see the Gwilliams, but felt so tired that I decided I would far better employ the time by getting a bit of sleep. Woke up and Jim was home, and so talked him in to bringing Laura over here tonight - Sonny had been suggesting that I take Laura away from him. Had not really through about it until I saw her, and she is indeed very attractive. While at a loose end, she suggested we played poker, and before long we ended up playing strip poker, how I am not exactly certain. The most embarassing thing is when one loses - and I lost in a big way: I was sitting there stark naked while all the others were fully dressed. Then Laura had a run of bad luck, and had to strip all the way down. Laura was very shy to begin with, but then had a drink and became anything but shy, and before I, also having had something to drink, knew where I was, I was shaving her legs for her, which was quite nice. Then Sonny went out to get some more booze, and it occurred to me to take some photos of Laura with what film I had, and then called it a night - by this time I had a ¼ bottle of rum in me as well, but was still able to drive, though otherwise was pretty high. Good think I was not caught that time for the breathalyser. Back home, via a party at No. 22, and then quick to bed.


Saturday, 26 April 1969 Tun. Wells
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Up at 0815 this morning, feeling tired and with the enormous thirst which indicates that I did, in fact, have quite a lot to drink last night. Had some coffee and went of to Southborough to pick Laura up - the car was misfiring rather badly, and I am still baffled as to what has been causing it. Had to stop at one point, but the car did not stall and continued OK, so there was little I could do about it. I think a check on the contact breaker might well be in order. Got back home, via the Camera Centre for some HP4, and then had some coffee, while Jim got up and did his not-too-good best to disrupt proceedings. Laura eventually got undressed, and I took a few photos of her with an open-fronted shirt, then Trevor and Angie arrived and stopped further action for about 20 minutes. Then got back to work, and took some more photos, this time of her stark naked, though of course we were somewhat hindered by the fact that I could not open the curtains more than a crack. Then Sonny got rid of Jim, and our only problem was Larry mowing the lawn outside.

My recollection is that somehow Larry got wind of what was going on and thus decided to mow the lawn exactly there.

Laura performed excellently, without any self-consciousness whatsoever, although I was there, fully clothed, alone with her, and she was starkers. Eventually finished off the film, and took Laura home, after which I went on to Coulsdon, and eventually, none too soon, found where the Gwilliams lived, and in to see them. They had some old friends, ex-Sarawakians, with them, and we all had lunch, in somewhat of a chaos, after which friends, names still forgotten, disappeared, and I had a conversation and some (real) coffee with the Gwilliams, though I feel possibly they were a little put out by my arrival - though possibly it was just my imagination. In any case, had a look at Russel's Jaguar bronze coloured Bond Équipe GT (as opposed to Dad's idea of a wine-coloured Jaguar; Russell said something to the effect that they had been drinking Beaujolais at the time, which might provide the connection.) Then off, with a promise (?) to return with Bev some time, and back to Tun. Wells, where Jim and Sonny were convinced that I had spent the day screwing Laura, which impression was not helped by the fact that I was exhausted.

And why didn't I? Part of the problem was my attitude that a photographer doesn't sleep with his models. But in my recollection I also thought I had been invited to the Gwilliams, and didn't want to show up with an uninvited companion. That no longer makes much sense.

Nevertheless into town to buy some developer, then home and flaked out for a few hours. Then Jim and Larry came in with fish, chips and Laura, and after that I started developing the HP4, in the middle of which Alan and Shirley arrived - for some reason, Sonny is being friendly to them. Finished developing the film, which came out very well, and then off to cover some midnight hike, which degenerated into a post-mortem of an orgy in Hildenborough, just round the corner from Alan Fraser. Back late, wrote up my diary, and much later to bed.


Sunday, 27 April 1969 Tun. Wells → WGC
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Jim came through at some indeterminate hour this morning, but I was exhausted and slept on. When I did get up, at 1300 hrs, everybody else was asleep, and so in to wake Sonny and then go and make some coffee. Sonny came out a bit later, and soon after Larry came down and had a talk with us, mainly discussing the photos I took yesterday, and then he got talking to Sonny about chopping up bumper bars - for some reason, Sonny wanted to fit ¼ bumpers onto his car, and so in due course, he, Larry and Jim (who by this time had got up again) went off somewhere in Sonny's car, and I stayed behind and tidyed up the kitchen somewhat. Then back to the car, and ascertained that there was little wrong with the plugs, although one of them had a greasy top, so hoped that might have been the cause of the misfiring, and went back inside to cook myself an omelette. Had just about finished this when everybody returned, and then Sonny and Jim did their share of the cooking, I did a bit more diary writing and evaluation of yesterday's negs, then started packing my barang and reading various extracts from Chambers Encyclopedia, after which out to examine Sonny's car with the ¼ bumpers, which looks quite good, though Sonny does not seem to think so. Back inside and did a bit more packing, messed around a bit more, and then finally set off, with Sonny following in his car. The jerking certainly seemed to have stopped, and I had just decided that it was probably the plug after all, when it started again. Still, it was not too bad and so I continued through a rather crowded London, and arrived in WGC 2 hours later. Then had a look at my tappets, which were madly out, and I suspect the starboard inlet valve was not closing. Adjusted them with a lot of cursing - this engine is really not as accessible as is made out - and then test drove the thing, with a lot of tappet noise (which I seem to remember from when I first got the thing), but also as much if not more hesitancy and misfiring as before. Must be the ignition. Then home and cooked some makan, after which upstairs to read some test reports on the Panhard Dyna series. As a result of all that, late to bed.


Monday, 28 April 1969 WGC
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Overslept this morning, waking only at 0830, which without breakfast or a shave just about gave me time to arrive at work without being too late. There I found a letter from Sandy Schaedel, to whom I have been meaning to write ever since Dad said that she reckone [sic] I owed her a letter. She did not, apparently, for she was full of apologies for not having written earlier. Things are not going too well with Dean, which may have something to do with her writing to me. Read the letter thoroughly, then along came Ken Whitely, who is somewhat annoying at such times, and suggested that I made some more catalysts. Poor bloke, I don't think he is trying to be offensive or hard to get on with, it is just a combination of shyness and an attempt to give me something to do. Also, I am not feeling exactly like making any more catalysts right now, and had rather hoped that since the HP lab is not operative for the next 2 weeks, I would not have to. Still, such is life, and I might as well accept it. Did a bit of running around in the morning, talking to John Allday about stirring, trying to find some LiC₄H₉, and ordering some Zirconium alkyls. Then hung round doing little until lunch time, when I went into town to get some money, and also bought an AP and a writing pad. Back, had a violent lunch - I do not of late seem as hungry as before. Perhaps the weather has something to do with it. Slept the lunch off for a while, and then, as Richard Cooper had still not shown up, started a letter to Sandy Schaedel, and before Richard came along, had done quite a bit. Had no work until teatime, and then Lola suggested I did some MFI calculations, while Richard talked to me for a while about his new ideas for making β-TiCl₃. Then just about everybody went off to a meeting, I did my calculations and then finished off my letter to Sandy, and then home with a view to adjusting/checking the ignition timing. After about an hour of messing round trying to remove a fan bolted on the inacccessible side

In fact, the only bolt was very accessible, but the fan was on a conical union that was almost impossible to loosen.

and insert a 6mm rod into a hole in line with the apparently unremovable dipstick, I changed my mind andwondered if it would not be simpler just to fit a Panhard engine. Inside and washed up, and had some makan, and then upstairs to consider Panhards further, and came to the conclusion that I should sell the Ami and buy a 24 CT, which would be economically feasible.


Tuesday, 29 April 1969 WGC
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Only woke at 0830 this morning, with the result that I had a good deal of trouble getting to work on time, but just about managed to make it, and then had the prospect ahead of me of Richard's ideas of making new catalysts Richard himself, however, was not much in evidence, and so I thought it might just be wise to get myself doing some other work, and so offered to do some grading for Lola. As ever, she took me up on this, albeit on the condition that I should drop it should anything more important crop up. Somehow or another I managed to get very little indeed done, although I started almost as soon as I arrived; admittedly this was not helped by various mishaps, such as some very hard polymers (MFI ≈ 0,06), and one which spilt [?] all over the place, which involved sucking up with the vacuum cleaner. Also Jack Layton was using the balance most of the day, which I considered somewhat inconsiderate of him, and it meant I had to sit around doing nothing. By the end of the morning I had graded 4 or 5 polymers, and then to lunch - my appetite has fallen off greatly recently, and on top of that I am feeling very tired, so that I spent about ½ an hour sleeping after lunch. Then back to work, with little more success - by the time I woke up, I found Lola doing some grading, and so offered to do the calculations for her, which involved persuading Alan to let me use the calculating machine. I am gradually getting fed up with this place - thank God it is now less than 5 weeks till I leave this place. Richard came along later and told me more about his plans for tomorrow - dammit, why do we have to do this in the lab? I am decidedly worried about the safety aspect. Started refluxing some toluene for Frank Bebbinton's benefit, and then did little more until 1700 hrs. When I set off from work, my fanbelt chewed itself into pieces, which was hardly the most pleasant occurrence, especially as I could not get a replacement, and that I will have to just about take the engine apart to replace it - looks like being more difficult to get at than the contact breakers. Furious, home to wonder why I did not buy a Panhard 24 CT - certainly it seems a good idea, as about the only sacrifice I should have to make would be carrying space - and I am no longer so worried about that. Read Stern and saw an Indian bloke (Mr. Menon), who was thinking of renting the room, as Mrs. Garrad was not there.


Wednesday, 30 April 1969
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Woke up this morning feeling like death warmed up, why, I do not know, though this sore throat I have had for the last few days seems to be getting worse. In any case, decided it would be imprudent to go to work, and so turned over, and, apart from a grunt to Mrs. Garrad when she knocked on the door to see if I was awake, slept through, with a few rather wierd dreams to 1300 hrs. I am not sure what significance, if any, dreams have, but I had a few rather frighteningly realistic ones - waiting for Dad in the Dog, while he (supposedly) went off in the Old Grey Mare to look for some stuff for my throat, and then he coming back to look for Dato Rajasooria, and at the same time voicing his opinion that Bev be pregnant by Sonny. Woke up shortly after that, and decided that I felt well enough to stay awake for a while, and so dragged out „Ein Tierarzt hat viele Freunde“, which I read about a year ago, and which I considered worth a second reading - perhaps it reflects my lonliness at this stage. If only I could get hold of a bird ...

It wasn't for lack of opportunity.

how often have I said that in the last couple of years, ever since I was through with Jenny. And yet, I could not have gone on with Jenny - looking back to my diary of June 1967 shows that clearly enough. I was in love, sure, but it takes 2 to make a love affair. I wonder why Lesley has left the Heritage ... has she gone elsewhere, has she given it up as a bad job, or what? Perhaps I should contact her mother and find out what is going on. Read on about the vet, then back to sleep, and woke round sundown feeling somewhat better - it is distressing how the length of the day keeps changing, a good 1½ hours a month at present.

In fact, from 1 April to 1 May it's 1 hour, 53 minutes. At the time where I started noticing this sort of thing, I was living in Kuala Lumpur, where the total length of the day changes by less than 20 minutes over the year. I still can't get used to the swings of day length round the equinoxes in temperate climates.

By sundown it is already 2030, and I can imagine what it will be like in late June...

Of course, I could also remember, since it wasn't the first time I spent the summer solstice in England.

Had some makan, though my appetite has largely disappeared, and then heard Mrs. Garrad say why she did not want an Indian. Afterwards up to read more about the Panhard 24 CT. I am fairly dead set on buying one.


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