Greg
Greg's diary
November 1968
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This month's entries were entered from the paper diary in April and May 2016. The comments in italics, like this one, were added at that time.


Friday, 1 November 1968 Horrabridge → Newport (Mon.) → Horrabridge
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Woken up this morning by a sheep who, not liking the appearance of my car, decided to ram it. Blew the horn, to no avail, but opening the door and growling did produce success. Then got out of my blanket, wiped the fluff off my pants, and headed to the house, arriving round about 0900, just in time to get a few remnants of breakfast. Then Bev suggested (in fact, i think I had promised her something to the effect) that we went to visit Phil Edwards in Bristol, so she told Mrs. Andrew that we wanted to go to Netherton House to see the Baudouys, and eventually set off on the Okehampton road to Exeter.

In Exeter, I wanted to get some oil, as my first “real” oil change was coming up, and discovered I did not have enough money to do so, so to the bank, where I was able to cash my cheque without them ringing London - they apparently have a lot of tourists.

Then to Halfords, bought some GTX and cleaning stuff, then Bev rang Phil, who was not in, and I, rather wildly, agreed to go on to Taunton to ring him again from there. Picked up a rather interesting hitchhiker on the way up - he was heading for Cheltenham. Dropped him in Taunton, where we stopped for lunch - the weater [sic] had been fantastic all day - and I bought a grease gun while I was at it, as well as a small oil can. Outside Taunton eventually found a place to do the oil change/lube.

Yes, at the time I saw nothing wrong with just draining the oil onto the ground. I think that was helped by the fact that I would have had to pay to dispose of it properly.

Got that done pretty quickly, the most difficult being greasing the inertia dampers. Somebody has also greased the handbrake connection instead of oiling them. Got about 10 miles further on and discovered I had forgotten to grease the drive shafts, check oil level, and lube the clutch thrust bearing. Stopped a bit further, discovered my car must have a sealed thrust bearing, as there was no oil cap, and left the box oil until later.

I don't think any new cars needed thrust bearing lubrication even in those days. I was probably comparing it to the Traction.

Then on to Bristol and Newport, and funnily enough found the place where Phil works without too much trouble. Then had a long wait round until Phil returned - what a dump! Unpaved surface, muddy, slag heaps all over the place. Phil came about 1710, and shortly later another bloke, Ade, a friend of his, who sells Citroëns and was delighted to see my car. Later went round the corner with him to see his (red, 1967 model) and was discussing with another bloke the possibility of fitting a Panhard engine in, when he put me onto another bloke who was interested in getting rid of a Panhard with 2 engines, unfortunately the straight PL 17, only 45 HP, and I don't know how easy it would be to fit - it has a distributor on top which makes it a lot larger than the Ami engine. Also a clutch bell housing which ought to make it a lot more difficult to connect up to the gearbox, though Citroën have obviously solved this with the MEP.

I had completely forgotten about the MEP, and so, it seems has most of the world. This Italian reference is the only one I can found. The MEP 2 had a Panhard CT 24 engine and an Ami 6 transmission.

The fellow wants £50 for both engines, boxes and the car. Drove the thing without being overly impressed - it has 3 each Cinturato/X's, makes the same sort of noise as a Citroën A type, though the resemblance only goes as far as the construction. Suspension is independent all round, but transverse leaf in the front. What I really need is the engine - maybe I could sell the rest for spares. But then the final problem - would it fit? I shall have to talk to Citroën, if we are still on speaking terms.

Picked Phil up and set off with him back to Devon - he paid the petrol, which was nice of him. Then belted to Tavvy - 3½ hours, average about 45 mph [72 km/h], 40 mpg [7 l/100 km]. What a car - that included several traffic jams and makan. Eventually put Phil up in the Queen's head, 1 star, late back home.


Saturday, 2 November 1968 Horrabridge Images for 2 November 1968
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Bev came in later than I thought this morning, apparently having already had her brekafast. I hung round for a while with her before I realised this, then eventually down to scrape a few crusts (no, I think I actually got some shredded wheat), then outside to do some work on the car. Removed the rocker shaft and put the washers on, then put the thing back - didn't take as long this time, only 10-15 minutes. Fantastic how easy it is to work on this car. I wonder how easily the wings come off. Then got some shampoo and washed the thing, which did not leave it looking noticeably different to last time, though last time it was a waxing shampoo. Found my leather, and leathered it down, then gave it a going over with this Simoniz GT wax which is supposed to be so good. After doing half of it, I could notice no difference, but suddenly, after about half an your, as Bev and I were driving into town, it suddenly hit me how much shinier it was. Now all we need to see is if it will remain like that for 6 months.

This must be when I took these photos, which are probably the best indication of what the car looked like at the time:

In town, we looked all over the place for Phil, without finding him. They sent us up to room 12a, where he was not, but it did not look like his room. They insisted that he was out, but we eventually found him in room 12 waiting for us. Had to go home again almost immediately, but managed to arrange with him that we would pick him up as a friend of mine, Steve Robertson from Tiverton, after lunch: Vicky was coming in with us, and would otherwise have fed the information back. Accordingly home, and I spread the news that I had bumped into Steve in town, and he was coming into town with us. After lunch, off again into Tavvy and picked Phil up, setting up a marvellously deceptive atmostphere until Phil and I each dropped clangers at the end. However, Vicky, being as dim as she is, did not notice. Then went round Plymouth, mainly shopping for my stuff, and bought a pint of Castrol hypoy light, which, I later discovered, I did not need, as it is a sealed box/diff unit - how amusing. Will try to swap it for hydrailic fluid some time. Then had some coffee at a place called the marquee, andoff in the direction of Bodmin moor, after buying a train ticket for Phil. Went through Callington, Upton Cross, Stanbear - I notice the house where Lesley's grandafather lived has had its name changed - Cosy cot or something. Back to Tavvy, dropped Phil, and then home for Bev to change for a party. Off again, picked up Phil and had some fish and chops, then set off and were on the road from Launceston to Bodmin before we realised what was happening, so back to a pub in Launceston, which must be a nice place in the daytime. Back to Milton Abbot after a while, to a party as dead as I would not have believed it possible. Glad to get away again.


Sunday, 3 November 1968 Horrabridge → Plymouth² → Horrabridge² Images for 3 November 1968
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Up at a fair enough time this morning, though woken by William, who wanted to be taken to the bus stop for some military function, which I did - the weather has taken a turn for the colder, unfortunately, and I was still shivering when I got back home again. Then had some breakfast, though not very much, and then out to mess about with the car, as I always seem to be doing, until Bev thought about going to see Phil, so set off across the moor to Tavvy, and found Phil in the lounge with his feet on a bulldog, who was winning the farting match. Stopped that and set off across the moor towards Princetown, which is a singularly depressing place - never looked around the place before, but it is like a ghost town. Then almost immediately had to set off again back into town, though did take the opportunity to go down by some little rivulet and take some photos, though just as I was about to take one of the car, I ran out of film.

Back home, having left Phil in Yelverton, and had an extremely poor imitation of curry - typical english.

After that, everybody went off, we to find Phil and the Andrews to watch William playing soldiers. Then with Phil off round the place, and ended up climbing up Sharp Tor again, this time taking another route, which started off being a lot easier, then however became almost impassable. Got out then and walked around a bit, and the inevitable National trust Landrover came and got bogged down, which made me laugh like a drain as we peed off again in the direction of Plymouth, which we made in something like 18 minutes from Tavistock,

Google Maps gives a time of 30 minutes, though I suspect I only timed to the city limit.

while I tried to persuade Phil got get me (free) 5 165-15 M+S Decathlon tyres, which are supposed to be very good. Hope we have some snow if I get them. All I need would be another 5 wheels - maybe I can get some scrap in France. Then Phil off by train, and we back home again. Bev wanted to catch up on her work, and I got round (finally) to tidying up my tool box, which by this time stank of spilt GTX - all Castrol motor oils seem to smell quite distinctive. Then removed the oil pressure connection screw, and verified that I could not possibly use the connection I have on my guage at the moment. Put the vacuum guage in in place of the temperature guage. Had tea and a bath and got ready for going out for makan, which was chinese and quite good, even if come concessions were made to western customers. On the way home somehow annoyed a police Triumph Herald who presumably thought I could not overtake him when I did - by a long margin at that. Gave chase with full beams, which was not very nice of him, especially as I did not realise he was a police car. I hope he doesn't try any trouble - could get sticky.


Monday, 4 November 1968 Horrabridge → Heathrow → Reading → Horrabridge
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Up with Bev, and the weather had taken a very decided turn for the worse, and there was frost all over my car. Hardly had time for a long breakfast, but managed to gulp something down before taking Bev and William off to school, which included stops at the top of Horrabridge Hill for petrol (I was as good as empty) and at the bus station for chewing gum: Bev had been so cold that she had had to light a cigarette, and needed the chewing gum to adsorb the taste.

Then filled the tank up at a Jet station - between the two fillings of the tank I used 5,75 gallons, so I must have been as good as empty, since the tank only holds 5,5 gallons (or so one is led te believe). Home, and got all my barang pretty quickly into the car, then off across the moor - the weather was how one would always hope winter to be: cold, but crisp and sunny, and with the heating turned on full blast I was able to get about with all my pullovers/jacket off, just as in Malaysia. After a brief scuffle when I thought I had left my pen behind, on through Exeter and on the A38, taking it easily with a view to getting over 45 mpg [6.22 l/100 km], which was particularly important since I had as good as no money to fill up with. Carried on slowly, for once enjoying the weather, which is in any case seldom possible in this country. Enjoyed myself so much that I even passed some thumbers by, thus inadvertently proving my premise that sunny days are bad for thumbing. Nevertheless managed to overcome this and picked up a Yank who stank of marihuana [sic] outside Aylesbury and took him as far as Staines, then myself on to the airport, arriving about an hour or more before Sonny was due. Cashed a cheque and bought a couple of magazines, which I read until Sonny's plane arrived, then waited outside the arrival hall, where there was the same order of confusion as at Le Bourget airport 3 weeks ago. After all the Air France passengers had should have been cleared, and Sonny still had not turned up, I made enquiries which showed that they had no way of knowing whether he had boarded the plane or not. Just as I was about to give it up as a bad job, he came out saying that he was having trouble with the customs - poor bastard, I know what it is like. Eventually he came out and told me his tale of woe - he had had his baggage lost, had to pay £18 tax on his camera, the customs bloke had accused him of smuggling his camera into the country, and to make matters worse he had put his foot in it by saying he had bought it in Singapore in August, when in fact it had only appeared on the scene in Hong Kong in mid-October. Now he says they are checking up on the day of manufacture, etc.

Off to the Heston services, where we had something to eat and got some petrol - 45,6 mpg! [6.14 l/100 km] - and then back to Reading to look Jenny Hallett up, while Sonny tried, not without success, to persuade me to enter my car into the RAC rally. Found Jenny eventually - I went up alone - and was rather astonished by the effusive way in which she greeted me - in fact, she seemed overjoyed, although, as I discovered later, she is still getting about with this Malcolm bloke. It all reminded me of Lara on the occasion of Schiwago's return to Warykino - what were my previous thoughts on my identity with Schiwago? Poor Jen has spots - I shall have to get two tubes of Savlon now. Went down to a pub which Jen reckons will be good, but was not. back again, the Sonny off and Jen expressed in no uncertain practical terms that she wanted to see me again. Then, at Sonny's wish, off to Devon to see Bev, getting along very quickly, and discussing our philosophies, etc, with each other.


Tuesday, 5 November 1968 Horrabridge → Tun Wells → Portsmouth
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As we came into Exeter, we were running down on petrol, so I went into an AA box on the Exeter bypass and rang up to ask where the nearest all-night petrol station was - didn't realise you still had to pay to make a call, which surely must rather detract from the advantage of having them at all. To make matters worse, I shut the door of the box, and then discovered I had left my keys in it. Eventually up to the petrol station (just a mile further up the road), and there was a police car there with an AA key, so they came back and opened it for us. Then on to Tavistock, after getting a fill of petrol, and to Grimstone to wake Bev. Like Lesley, she was not surprised - I can see what Sonny sees in her, especially when she flew into his arms later on when she came out to the car - even better than Jenny. Why, oh why, is Lesley so undemonstrative? Went up on the moor, and I left them to it and went to sleep in the back, waking at about 0530 to hear Sonny ask “How do you start this thing?”, then, after he had worked it out, “You know, we could easily steal this thing”.

It didn't have a steering lock. Stealing was as simple as connecting a wire from battery to coil and pulling on the starter button.

He had difficulty moving it, though, so I took over, getting a bit of mud on my sump in the process. Took Bev to Grimstone, then set off again eastwards, Sonny at the wheel, while I slept in the back - this thing bounces a bit at speed in the back, much rougher than the D-type. Just before Exeter, Sonny declared himself exhausted, so I surrendered the blanket to him and I slept in the front, getting very cold in the process. Woke up again about 0930 to find Sonny completely covered in the blanket, and so started up and set off along the A30. Sonny returned to full voluntary consciousness about an hour later, somewhere in southern Somerset, apparently having been awake since I set off. We carried on quite smoothly, the weather beings almost as good as yesterday, and in another hour had brunch at some Dorset transport café. Talked a bit longer, though, after Stockbridge, on the A272, he faded out again, and a bit later I did, too, so pulled in to have a bit of a rest, but Sonny felt like taking over, so I went to sleep, and woke just after Chailey, about an hour later.

On to Tunbridge Wells, where Sonny's car still had not arrived, which annoyed him. At Westwood, his landlady told him that Air France had rung up to say that some bloke in Chichester had taken his bag, and that it should be at the Tun Wells railway station soon. Down there, but it had yet to arrive. Took Sonny back, who said he had to work, and thus kicked me out. Down to Chailey, where I had makan and rang Paul Hallett, and arranged to meet him at Portsmouth Harbour at 2100. Arrived there 2102 myself, but Paul had missed the boat, and did not arrive until 2200, and then left at 2240. Had a pint in the Keppel's Head, and invited him up to London, but he did not seem very enthusiastic. Off to find a parking place on a hillside the other side of Waterlooville, where I had ample disrpoof of Higgins promise “In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire hurricanes hardly happen” - the car was swaying all over the place. But it might just have been West Sussex.

Looking at the probable route, it was almost certainly Hampshire.


Wednesday, 6 November 1968 Portsmouth → Lodon → T.Wells → Chailey
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Woken up by some old farmer on a tractor who was apparently worried about my wellbeing, possibly under the illusion that I had got drunk last night and lost my way - I would have had to be pretty drunk to get that mixed up. Wiped the windows and set off in the direction of London, deciding not to ring Paul up after all. Drove fairly slowly - I am finally, after several thousand miles, getting tired of driving hard and fast. Besides, what with my money running out I could to advantage get lower fuel consumption.

Arrived in London around midday, and had a long-overdue shave, then to the bank and picked up my AA membership card and a letter from Citroën saying I could work out what to do about the headlamps by myself - OK by me. I wonder when they will discover I have not paid for the units. Then had some makan in Lyons Corner House, retrieved my car from a parking space in Berkley Square just before the warden came along to find the meter 20 minutes over. Parked in the Europark place behind Farnum House and to the AA to buy some motoring literature - bought a handbook for L drivers (i.e. for Lesley), and also “Advanced Motoring”, the IAM book. Then off to look for Imperial College, but everything was unmarked, and so off instead to try and find Bosch about my foglight. Found NW9 this time, but Bosch were not there, having by this time moved out of London altogether. Directed, I eventually found the place, and was told that the lamp unit was brand new, that it only been on sale a couple of weeks in this country, and that - same old story - no spares were available. Eventually managed to get hold of a replacement stripped from another unit, only snag being that it was clear, and that I would have to paint it yellow myself. Then off, trying to get round London, but somehow ended up in the middle, where I had makan. Then off in the direction of Tunbridge Wells, being somewhat amused by a Yank who lent out of his VW Kombi in Parlaiment [sic] Square and addressed me as “Sir” while asking the way to Westminster Bridge. Got down to Tun. Wells pretty easily, then realised I would want to be in Chailey before Lesley came off duty, and really belted it. Arrived at 2015, and Hannah told me she had gone out with Titch, and nobody knew when she would be back. After checking at the King's Head, off to wait for her at Warrenwood, having considerable difficulty keeping the girls off me and my cigar. Lesley arrived about 2100hrs, possibly even vaguely surprised to see me, if that were possible of Lesley. Then out with her to her room, and later made some tea - this girl is gradually cming alive to me - actually sat on the same chair as me and held hands in public. Arranged to see her for a longer period of time on Friday. Slept near Nutley.


Thursday, 7 November 1968 Chailey → Tun. Wells → Reading
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Woke up round about 1030, which was rather later than I expected, and this time there was some bloke from the East Sussex Electricity board either laying (is that the word?) an overhead cable or checking it. In any case, set off pretty quickly and in the direction of Tun. Wells, where I bought some stuff to paint my foglight yellow and decided to have lunch with Sonny, so back to Boradwater Down to meet him, watching some blokes doing some none-too-expert levelling while I was there: since I have learnt how to level myself, I suddenly notice hundreds of people all over the country doing all sorts of surveying. Tried painting my glass yellow, and after doing this came to the conclusion that it would have been wise to clean the thing thoroughly first. Besides, the stuff seems more brown than yellow. This will obviously have to be a temporary repair - I shall get Matin to bring some when he comes.

Then Sonny came out and we headed up to the station, where his barang still had not arrived, then to the bank, where he got himself a new cheque book, and finally to a Wimpy bar, where Sonny bought me lunch and I discussed what I was going to do with him. My next fixed appointment was with Lesley on Friday evening, and before that all I had to do was pick any main up from ICI. That looked ike being impossible today, as by this time it was already 1330,

The mail would have been at the bank in London, and in those days, banks closed at 15:00.

so decided to go up to Reading instead and see Jenny Hallett - what a way to run a life! Accordingly took Sonny back to school and set off along all sorts of B road in the direction of East Grinstead, after which I tidied myself up a bit, then across to Horsham and Guildford, where I had a look at the Uni of Surrey while I was at it - the place is still very much under construction, and I am a little dubious as to whether I will be in Guildford or Battersea if I go there. Outside Guildford, attempted to adjust my brakes, which was a bit of a fracas - for some reason, these brakes have two adjusting screws per drum. I wonder if they are twin leading shoe or something - in that case, this must be a further improvement, all of which look like being a nuisance until the model gets better known round here. Eventually got them so that they were working OK, though God knows what I have done to them. Off further to Reading, and this time scared Jenny, who showed no inclination to throw her arms around me, and said what a lot of work she had to do.

Then she went off to makan, while I went out to Caversham to look for Carol Syme, to no avail. Headed back to Jenny after paying 1d for having my first crap since Sunday. Jenny was writing up a psych experiment, and I spent the time writing to Dad, then rang up Bev and discovered a letter had arrived from Dad, so answered that too. Upstairs again, wrote up for yesterday, then cooked some coffee for Jen and myself and helped her with her psych. Eventually she kicked me out at about 2320, and I headed up Henly way to find a not-very-satisfactory place to spend the night.


Friday, 8 November 1968 Henley → Tun. Wells → Chailey
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Woke up very lat this morning, round about 1130, feeling at least a little rested. Put everything back together again, and set off onto the crown of the road to let the car stop for a while so that I could check my oil. Before I had even got everything in order, a police car came along - plain clothes everything - and the bloke asked me for my license, and then, to add insult to injury, asked me what the number of the car was. I offered him the ownership papers, but he said it was just a “routine check” and went on. Checked the oil - ¾ pt below minimum, so panicked and put in 1½ pts. Then set off for London, and had breakfast at Heston. Checked the oil again - ¾ pt over max. I wish this thing would give an accurate reading when it was not on the level. For a while I had all sorts of unpleasant worries.

The car really needed to be on the level to measure the oil level correctly. That's why I stopped on the crown of the road, but the engine was cool, and I didn't wait long enough for the oil to run back into the sump.

In to London, where I collected a letter from ICI saying they would like to interview me on Tuesday, also letters from Citroën about enquiry into the failure of the rocker arm and the cancellation of my cheque. Then off south again - I have had my fill of London, and hope Welwyn is a little better - and to Tun. Wells. Arrived about 1500 hrs, and started doing things to the car. Took out the plugs and cleaned them and reset the gaps - they were up to 1mm, which could explain why the car was pinking/misfiring/consumption increasing. I think I might in fact remove them and put some L87Y plugs in instead. I wonder if this thing is particularly heavy on plugs.

It seems that it was. I don't recall what the standard spark plugs were, but L87Y were long-nosed variants of the L10 that I had used in the Traction, and I had the impression that they were more efficient.

Then had a look at the oil bath air filter, which was filthy, so down to a service station to have it cleaned, and put it back in with the clean side facing the air inlet. Then up out of town to clean the car out, during which I finally screwed the carpet which Matin gave me onto the back of the back seat - that was easier than I thought, and it looks quite good. Back into town, and picked up Sonny, who still has not got his barang back. Up to the station, where it had not arrived, and then back to Westwood, where we talked for a while, and were visited by Jim again, who seems to have no friends apart from Sonny.

This appears to be the first mention of Jim.

Bev rang up while we were there and told me that I had been invited for interview by Uni College London - I don't know if I could stand that. I suppose it would all have to depend on what Lesley does, and that in turn on how Lesley and I get on in the next few months. But more of that. Sonny had to have makan, and so I went off into town and bought some fish and chips, after which I hust had enough time to write up my diary outside the Heritage before Lesley came. Took her home to change, and then off to “The Piltdown Man” in (believe it or not) Piltdown. Rather a quiant little pub, which was very full, perhaps because it was Friday night (reminds one of Australia, apart from the women).

In those days, pubs in Australia were men-only affairs.

The landlord told me what little he knew of the Piltdown man, which was enough to throw a spanner into the argument Lesley and I had had - I had insisted that it was the jawbone of an orang utan, whereas she insisted it was a human skull. It turned out is was both. Also notice a rather amusing notice in English and Chinese reading “No opium smoking”. Finished our drinks and set off in the car - it was very cold - and did my best to scare Lesley, in which I thin I succeeded - she said something to the effect that her mother would not be very pleased if I killed her. I could not help thining of Jamil, the Agong's son - I could never face driving a car again if I killed Lesley in a car crash.

Sonny told me that this happened to Jamil, and I got the impresion it happened somewhere near Tunbridge Wells. But it's difficult to correlate this information. At the time, the Agong was Ismail Nasiruddin of Terengganu. I didn't know him, but he appears not to have had a son called Jamil. The preceding Agong was Syed Putra of Perlis, whom I did know. His issue is stated as only Sirajuddin of Perlis, the current Raja, though we knew his daughter Endah. So at least there's a difficulty in documenting the offspring.

Drove round a bit and eventually parked near Fletching. What does Lesley mean to me? I wish I knew, but I would like even more to know what I mean to Lesley. I think I must love her, though sexual desire is also very rife. I have yet to have any opposition from that girl, but tonight she did not act passively by any means. The only thing that worries me are what her motives are in such matters. Is she just out for kicks, or is she genuinely fond of me?

At this point I started Volume VII of the written diary.

If only I knew the answer to that one! I wish she was more interested in me, or at any rather that she would show it.

Took her home, and then realised I had made some progress: for the first time, she asked me when I would take her out again. Ended up rather inconclusively by saying in about a week's time, and that I would ring her up on Monday to see when she was off from 17 hrs. If I could get this far in 1½ hours, I wonder what it would be like with 6! Back to the same place to settle down for the night - very cold.


Saturday, 9 November 1968 Tunbridge Wells
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Woke up very early this morning feeling extremely cold, which fact was probably not helped by the fact that I had taken my pants off. Rewrapped myself several times, and eventually woke up around 0930 to discover that there had been a severe frost, thus doubtless explaining my coldness. Got up and scraped the frost off the screens, then set of in the direction of Tunbridge Wells though a large amount of fog. It is amazing how few Poms will turn their lights on in the day, no matter how great the provocation. Some went through quite thick fog without any lights, though most had sidelights, which in the daytime are as good as useless. Only a small minority had their headlights on. Then to Westwood, where Sonny was still in bed, though Jim was up. Decided to fit my other fog lamp, which was probably no moment too soon. It was still very cold, and I was only too glad to get into the house and warm up a little. Then people started discussing where we were going to go tonight, and we decided to make a sextet of it (no pun intended), and so Sonny rang up a few birds he knew, and eventually one of them decided to invite a friend, but when we pointed out that there were three of us, she could not help. Suggested that we rang her up at 1445, and then we left it. Decided that we would take the two girls ourselves, and try and find a third for Jim. Accordingly I set off into town to try to pick somebody up, and in some mysterious way or another I missed my lunch. Did not have too much success trying to pick up a girl, which in any case was not helped by Jim's shyness. Eventually, around the time we had to ring Clare, headed to towards the Wimpy bar, where I eventually got something to eat, and Sonny also tried to persuade one of the waitresses to come out with us, again to no avail. Eventually headed off round town again, only having paid for half of what we had. Amusing notice ona hoarding: “Bill Stickers will be prosecuted”. Above it, somebody had written: “Bill Stickers is innocent”.

Off home again, and up to Sonny's room, where we discussed at length without coming to any suitable conclusion. Took Jim up to look for a girl, but nobody knew where she lived, so had to give that up as a bad job. Eventually picked up a girl (friend of Sonny's - aren't they all?) called Lin Liepnick (what a name!), and might have been able to take her out had she not been going out with some bloke called Hamid. Took her home, then Sonny and Jim home for makan, while I had fish and chips. Back again, changed my clothes, and off to pick up Lin and try to persuade her to come with us, but to no avail. Gave it up as a bad job and then tried our other two - Claire was OK, but Catherine, by bit, is one of the ugliest bints I have ever seen, and I was put off right from the moment I set eyes on her. Gave it up completely when she started making off with Jim in the car on the way back. He eventually went home, but I was not in a mood to try anything - why should I be unfaithful to Lesley anyway?

Why indeed? Why didn't I ask her to come out this evening? I can't recall. But I don't recall that Catherine was ugly, only stupid, and I can't recall Jim being there at all.

Off all over the place, and eventually ended up at some place in Crowborough doing a Salvation army crossword puzzle. Then took them home, Claire first, which rather surprised me, until I realised he wanted to start something up with Catherine as well, which rather surprised me.

Eventually got rid of them both, and Sonny suggested we went and picked up another couple. This we did, only to discover that they were thumbing to Brighton - this at midnight in the middle of Tunbridge Wells. Bought some fish and chips, but they were so awful looking that I did not want to start anything, so eventually offered to take them to Brighton if they would pay 10/- for petrol, to which they agreed, as thumbing was pretty lousy, and so off, arriving at about 0130. They then disappeared and asked us to wait outside the house while they got me some blankets to use in the car. After 10 minutes I went in and found them talking to their boyfriend, a milkman, having apparently neither intention nor means to pay me the 10/- on which we had agreed. Eventually the milkman paid on their behalf, and off we went again, feeling decidedly less friendly, and back to Tunbridge Wells, where we saw a fox on the park - very nice. Slept there after taking Sonny home.


Sunday, 10 November 1968 Tun. Wells → Brands Hatch → T. Wells
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Woke up this morning at 1055, when I was supposed to be at Westwood by 1039. Got out as quickly as I could and went over there, to find Jim and Lin walking down Pennington Road arm in arm. Sonny wanted to know (not surprisingly) why I was so late, but did not consider it possible to oversleep in a car. Had a wash and cleaned my teeth, then off to Brand's with the others, getting £1 worth of petrol on the way - it was not as far to Brand's as I had imagined, and we made it comfortably in 45 minutes. Sonny was directing me, and took me up to South Bank, behind Druids corner - we only just had enough money to pay for the four of us: we should have hidden somebody somehow. Then in and watched people cornering, taking fantastic lines about Druid's corner - poor old Sonny really suffered the whole time he was living the part of these drivers. Jim was trying, without much success, to make off with Lin, who seemed bent on enjoying herself, and so Sonny and I headed off round the other side with intent to cash a cheque, but got sidetracked into having a look round the paddock, where there were lots of interesting cars to look at, including a 4 cylinder Mini with 6 carbs in a Simone port crossflow arrangement. Then off for an unsuccessful attempt to cash a cheque, and finally back to South Bank to where Jum had been trying to make off with Lin in the car. Sat there and told him what it was all about while Sonny went off with Lin to buy himself and me something to eat with her money.

Eventually the races began, the first being the Redex trophy for saloon cars under 1000cc, which was mainly Minis and Imps. Lin wanted to bet amongst ourselves, and bet on some Mini or another, probably a Cooper, while Sonny bet on Lefranci in an Imp, who came 2nd, and I on Alan Fraser also in an Imp, who won. Then came something to do with Formula Ford, which was not interesting enough: these cars are too underpowered to get interesting, like my Ami 6. Then came a couple of others for sports and larger saloon cars, and we left before the Yazaki Formula Libre race and headed back home, while Jim started feeling crook, perhaps because he had not had any fun with Lin, who had also been messing around with Sonny and me all afternoon. Dropped her at home for a while, then back to Westwood, where Sonny rang Bev up, and I was given an AC horn for my car, as he is buying some Maseratis. Then was told to pick Lin up in Tonbridge, which I did, making a right mess-up of it in the process, but nevertheless gott off pretty well when I finally did pick her up, the only problem being getting something to eat. Eventually had something at the Wimpy Bar, then off to pick the others up, and Alan came too. In the course of the evening he proved himself to be a slimy bastard, and to add insult to injury somehow attracted Lin from me. Drove to Bromley and back, singing lustily, and then back to Tonbridge, where we had a drink at some pub, an din the process picked up Catherine of last night, who was pissed as a newt, and whom Sonny would have screwed had she not being having a period. Nevertheless he did the next best thing, and then spent the rest of the evening laying a trap for Alan.

My later memories about Catherine and Claire (previous day) are hazy. I didn't realize that we saw Catherine on two different day.


Monday, 11 November 1968 Tunbridge Wells
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Up rather earlier than yesterday, though on an absolute basis this was nevertheless rather late, and even then only caused by the commotion around me as everybody parked on the way to work. Got up and out of the place as soon as possible, and started heading north with no real idea of what I was looking for. Got as far as Southborough and it occurred to me that I had better get my flat tyre fixed up before some further misfortune befell me. This I did at a little place not far from Sonny's place, and then headed back into town to get other things done. First I went to the steering wheel centre and had a good look round, though I bought nothing: how could I - I had no money - and then off to the bank, based on this latter consideration, to get £4, which I calculated I should still be able to afford. Then off to Broadwater Down to wait for Sonny, and finished writing up for yesterday while I was at it. Then Sonny came out, claiming to be bloody freezing, so set off as quickly as possible into town, and checked at the station, where his bag had yet to arrive. Then off to the Wimpy Bar, where Jim was waiting for us, and got talking about cars to him - he is still thinking of building this Ford special, although he is swearing his head off at the gearbox he is working on in college. Then Lin came along, and hardly managed to get a word in edgeways, and was doubtless genuinely surprised when we answered her question, why we came there, by saying that we wanted to see her. I asked her if she still wanted to steal my car this afternoon, but she had gone off the idea. I think it would be a good idea to wait until we can get it on film.

Then everybody off to their respective occupations, and after I had dropped Sonny at the college, I went and picked up my tyre - 7/6d is wicked. I shall obviously have to get hold of some tools myself. Then off to the common to rotate my wheels, and in the process adjusted the brakes according to the directions in (surprisingly) “Das praktische Autobuch”, with the results a) it was much better b) I discovered my settings to be madly out. Obviously the settings are not too critical. I wonder how one removes the drums to check wear. Then off and filled up with petrol, and also bought some to clean the air filter with. Back up to the common to do that, and then discovered I had next to no oil to do it with. Put in what little I had, and then sent off my letter to Exeter Uni. to say that I was coming, and rang up ICI to similar effect. Then off to meet Sonny, getting further up to date with my diary, which I am sorely neglecting of late. Picked Sonny up, this time a jubilant Sonny to day that he had finally got his bag back, which he promptly loaded into the back.

Then off to Westwood, where he gleefully unpacked, and we talked for a while, then he suggested that I went off to see Lin, who, he said, would be at the Wimpy Bar. I think he is trying to get something moving - and he might have something at that. Lin was very friendly, and even went as far as saying she was a bastard - wants me to call her up on Thursday, which I may well do.

Off after that to take her and a friend, Brenda, to college, meeting Alan on the way, who said to meet him at 2000, as he might have some birds. Back to Westwood, picked up Sonny and Jim, and somehow ended up at the college waiting for Alan to bring his long-promised birds, who both turned out to be Lin, who was only interested in getting back home. Then picked up another bird called Annette, whom we took to a pub and played Bagatelle with, then back to pick up Lin, whom Alan had taken home and frustrated, and took her (Lin) home, then to the Chequers in Tonbridge, where Alan got his hands on Annette, who is interested in parachuting. Somehow I lost out there, and not even the fact that she is also interested in rallycross helped me. At about 2230 I remembered I was supposed to ring Lesley a couple of hours earlier, and did so anyway, although she usually goes to bed at 2200. She answered the phone, which must prove something, almost certainly that she had been waiting for my call. Then off again, making noises like Tamil, rather to Alan's surprise, dropped Annette, and up the drive past Pennington road, where we scared the wits out of Alan by persuading him that there were devils about, as it was the first last quarter after hallowe'en. Ended up by not being able able to start the engine (no ignition - key off), and then the thing stalled madly, probably because Sonny kept pulling the choke full out. Gave that up as a bad job, and sent a thoroughly terrified Alan home. Slept nearby.


Tuesday, 12 November 1968 Tun. Wells → Welwyn GC → Tavistock/Horrabridge
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Sonny and Jim woke me at about 0830 this morning, when the temperature was around 1°, and got me to take them to school. Then off to the public baths, where I had a bath, and looked at my feet for the first time in about a week: not a pretty sight, though as near as I could judge they did not smell, possibly because I so seldom have shoes (as opposed to socks) on. The bath was quite satisfactory, and I felt a lot better when I got back int the car. Set off north at about 1000, and mad better progress than I did 2 weeks ago - obviously this is a better time for it (or is it just that this car is better at such things than the Imp?).

Off then to the middle of London - for some reason I could not face going right around the ring roads - and might have done well had the signposting been better. As it was, I turned left after Vauxhall Bridge, following a sign to St Albans and the North-West, and then all there was was signs for the A3 [south-west] and A4 [west]. Eventually ended up in Edgeware Road, after going out nearly as far as Kew Bridge, and up onto the M1, where I got 80 up with considerable pinking, possibly overheating due to my radiator blind, as it stopped when (once off the motorway) I took this off. Must keep an eye on that. Got mixed up with the M10 as a result of reading their guide sheet - if I had looked at the AA handbook I would have been OK - and ended up in Welwyn Garden City at about 1230. Went up and drove around the ICI plant, then back into town and had lunch at the Wing On Chinese Restaurant, which was mainly Tau Geh and rice. Then had a look round town, which is very nice - I notice “The Graduate” is showing at the local flickhouse, which must be somehow symbolic of something.

Then off to ICI plastics and to Block F, where I discovered a couple of nervous looking blokes of my own age, both wearing (as I was) waistcoats, which made me feel terribly conformist. At any rate I was not nervous, as the other two were, and read through a couple of articles in “Science” about modern forms of computers. Then Mr. Cheesemer came along and dragged me into his office, where he introduced me to the other two members of the panel, one of which (name could have been Scholes, but not sure) asked me a few questions, but the other did not seem very interested. Had some tea, nice of them, and also got £1··11··6 back for travelling expenses. Then I was told about their opinions of the Uni I had applied for, and was asked to wait outside. The whole thing was fairly informal, and it seemed to almost be taken as read that I had a place. Mr. Scholes (or whatever he is called) came along in a while and took me over to one of the research labs, asking me about my car on the way, and took me to the Research Leader of the polythene department, Artur Pajaczkowski, who could have done justice to a bath were he not about to leave for Stockton-on-Tees, where, apparently ICI make their plastic. He told me I was the man he wanted first and asked me a few relevant questions - he was the only one who did - afterwards. Then he showed me round and took me back to Scholes (?), who said something to the effect that he did not know how much money I would be getting, but that I would probably be starting in a couple of week's time. Set off then by a slightly confused way to Devon, picking up a few thumbers on the way - they always seem to be going in pairs nowadays. Had makan at the other fish shop in East Reach in Taunton - must remember not to go there again - chips undercooked and greasy.

Then on to Horrabridge, arriving at about 2220, and a reception was waiting for me: William, Bev, Vickie, and Gabriel (a girl), all very pleased to hear about my interview. Then talking with Bev, mainly about sex, in which we both dropped a couple of clangers (Bev “It's nice to be able to exchange opinions [about sex] with you”). She is apparently worried about having ruptured her hymen on horseback 15 months ago. Late to bed.


Wednesday, 13 November 1968 Horrabridge → Exeter → Horrabridge
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Mr. Andrew called at about 0730, but Bev did not do anything until the breakfast bell went, and then suddenly sprang into action as had she been hit by a bolt of lightning. Followed suit and went down for breakfast, which was as cold as the weather. Then took the kids to school, which included taking Gabriel to somewhere 2 miles on the other side of Tavistock. Bev, however, wanted to come to Exeter with me, and thus got me to take her to Plymouth to the public library to do some work there until I came to pick her up. Then I went back to Grimstone and got to working on cleaning out the car, which I did pretty thoroughly: after washing the outside of the car with water and then shampoo, took everything out of the car that would come without unscrewing, including all the seats, carpet and sponge underlay, and set to cleaning these separately. By this time it was getting on 1230 hrs, and I dragged my letter from Exeter out, only to discover that, contrary to my expectations, I had not been supposed to be there at 1500, but at some time in the morning. Jumped into the car and shot off to Plymouth, picked Bev up and belted along the A38 to Exeter, where I arrived at about 1345.

Google Maps gives a driving time alone of 1 hour, 26 minutes, so that's quite impressive.

Rushed up to the Applied Science building, where I found about 6 other blokes, who had been here since last night, and Mr. Shorthouse handed me over to one of these to explain what had happened so far. Then I asked him if I could go to lunch, and he seemed quite agreeable about this. On the way spilt my Gunk all over everywhere, which caused a terrible stink, and wasted a lot of time cleaning what I could of it up. Then had makan at the Wimpy Bar, got £10 from the bank in Exeter - why don't they ring London up? - and then back again, where, after a wait, Mr. Shorthouse showed me around the labs, which were very interesting indeed - the equipment they have here is fantastic, and the facilities in general very good indeed. It seems that there are only about 25-30 people a year admitted to the course, which amounts to about 7% of all applicants. The bloke suggested that my A levels were not really good enough, and that he was only making an exception because I lived in Devon, which sounded like bullshit to me, but at any rate it is nice to know. Now I shall have to take a look at Guildford, from where a fellow rang me this morning to ask me to come for interview (“Come at about 1115, and we'll be able to wheel you in to the professor right away”).

Somehow this became modified in my memory to wheeling out the professor.

Off then due west by Moreton Hampstead, and suddenly Bev got the idea of going to Chagford. Set off accordingly, with a view to having makan at the Old Forge, but unfortunately the people there are on holiday, and the place will not be open again for another 2 weeks. Went and had a look at Gidleigh Park hotel, and had the idea of spending a dirty weekend down there with some friends, which could work out very well. Then back across little no through roads to Princetown, and thence to Horrabridge, I making the supreme sacrifice and letting Bev drive part of the way. Then had makan - I had to cook my own rice - William lifted the top off after about 10 minutes: “I told you you did it wrong - there's hardly any water left!”. Then set to cleaning the car out again, as it still stank to high heaven. Winter is an annoying time, the way the days are so short. I really must move to a country where it is not so pronounced. Spent a good proportion of the evening catching up with a sadly neglected diary.


Thursday, 14 November 1968 Horrabridge → East Anstey → Chailey → Tun. Wells
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Up early yet again to take Bev to school - the heating in this house is abominable: if I had bought such a place I am sure the first thing I would do would be to centrally heat it.

Came back afterwards and started, albeit rather leisurely, to get ready to go, and while at it helped Mr. Andrew to set up a carpet in on of the Admiral's rooms - I had never been in that part of the house beofre. Then wrote up for yesterday and started working out what to bring with me this time - this included all my dirty linen for the past few months, my typewriter and my cameras. In the course of my search, I also found the Kfz-Brief for the DKW, which I had feared lost - still in my in-basket. This I packed as best I could, and somehow managed to fit it all in the back of the car by making the best possible use of the space under the floor of the car. Then into Tavvy to buy some flowers for Mrs. Andrew - I had intended to all along, but she beat me to it by asking what happened to thiem Then off, after a rather light lunch, which I got myself, and decided to head up to have a look at “Kestrels”, and see how that was getting on.

This was the school I attended from September 1961 until Jun 1962.

Accordingly on the A386 to Torrington, then on some B road to South Molton, and shortly after that to East Anstey. Nothing seems to have changed much, but I think the place has closed down - looks like it, also looks as if a family is living in it. Doubtless a victim of the recent budgets. On again in the direction of Dulverton and Taunton, and picked up a thumber on the way. On then to Horton Cross and thence on the A303, having makan at Ilchester as ever.

Checking my diary, it seems that this must have been the Wimpy Bar where I ate on 27 October. How easy it is to define it as a habit!

A little while later, I felt so tired I had to stop, and slept for about an hour until I got too tired and stopped for an hour's sleep, after which it got too cold to stay asleep.

That's what I wrote.

Drove on, missed the turnoff to Salisbury and so went through Wylye to get there. On via Stockbridge onto the A272, and arrived in Chailey round 2115, so up to Warrenwood to see Lesley. Got there, and everybody was watching the „Miss World“ competition - right from the beginning I liked Miss Australia, Penelope Plummer, who works in the Melbourne Uni Library. My God - I wish I had gone to Melbourne Uni. She was extremely nice, and did in fact make it to Miss World, rather to the disgust of the other girls. Lesley then kicked me out, as it was 2200, and said she was annoyed that I had not phoned. Damn her - typical pommie attitude. Still, not that annoyed wtth me, and so left feeling a little happier, and belted across to Tun. Wells, where I found Sonny, Alan and Jim in the dining room at Westwood. Alan promptly told me he could get me into Westwood, and so I succumbed. Sonny then took me for a spin in his Stiletto - quite literally - and later told me that what he had done would have terrified anybody else - why not me. Then gave him Bev's letter and photo - poor bastard is really afflicted, and was talking of going down for another overnight journey to Devon on Saturday. Then down to the Croft, where Alan gave me a room, and I managed to get myself comfortably embedded after all.


Friday, 15 November 1968 Tun. Wells → Southampton
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Up with Alan this morning, at about 0830, and went downstairs to meet Mrs. Lane, who is a quite cheerful soul, and had breakfast, then took a rather nervous Alan to school. After that went up to the Laundrette with all my barang and washed/dry cleaned most of it - dry cleaning here only takes 45 minutes. In the process, found several thing that I had completely forgotten about, as well as a shirt of Paul Halletts.

I must have had that since April.

That took a fair amount of time, and meanwhile I tried to fix up my reversing lights - I had snapped the wiring somehow yesterday. To this end I bought some terminal blocks and wire from the Steering Wheel Centre, and eventually got the thing fixed up. Then headed back to The Croft and started writing a letter to Matin, telling him about the car, what had to be done to it, and enclosing the old KFZ-Brief. Then into town to meet Sonny, who was having trouble with his car - flat battery or something - and off to the Wimpy Bar to meet him and Lin. Only Lin turned up, and we had a fair conversation, while she arranged for me to take her to the hairdressers, on the way showing her a Citroën Ami 6, 1968 model, Vert Charmille, only done 2000 miles,

It's not clear whether this was identical to my car, or the previous year's model. Given the mileage, it could have been the 1969 model, like mine. The colour was the same, and clearly it was a break.

and I was thinking of whipping the rear floor, though I don't know how I would get it out without being able to unlock the rear door. Dropped Lin at the hairdresser's, and then back to the Croft to hang up my clothes to dry, and also to write out the necessary stuff for my insurance - I was getting a bit chick about the fact that my insurance expired yesterday. Sent off a cheque for £35 - I hope the bank honours it. As soon as it does, I suppose I shall have to pay my £25 road fund. I wonder if the money has arrived from KL yet. Then up to pick up Lin, only to find she still had a while to go, so wandered around Tun. Wells, and got an insurance quotation for my car from a local mob - about £45, and they added that they doubted I would get a much better deal than with Permanent/Phoenix. Then hung round and picked a rather glamorous-looking Lin up, and took her home, where I persuaded her to invite me in, and apparently her mother got a bit snaky with her, so I got out again, Lin terribly apologetic, and saying she did not want to go to this do with us, and the she would much rather come to Southampton with us.

Then back to the Croft, and later to Westwood, where I read Quick, about the high Oestrogen content of beer. Sony and Jim made their presence felt in due course, and I hung about there until makan, apart from a brief journey into town to get hold of some oil.

After makan, which was rather late, we set off, after a lot of discussion, argument, procrastination and a call from Bev, who somehow rang up the Croft just as we came in, making Sonny resolve to come down tonight, in two cars, and tried rather without success to maintain communication by walkie-talkie. Nevertheless it is a good idea in principle and I am thinking of installing some in my car. Belted along after a while - I lost my temper with Alan and got him to change places with Jim. Had some fish and chips, then on to Southampton, arriving about 2240. Stopped about an hour, then along in Sonny's Stiletto yet further west, getting tangled up with a drunken policeman while trying to get some petrol at a self-service place. To add insult to injury, the pump stole £1 from me without giving anything in return. Gave the policeman a good piece of my mind, then on.


Saturday, 16 November 1968 Horrabridge → Southampton
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Found another petrol station a bit further on, and filled up there, then burnt down in the direction of Dorchester and Honiton, where we joined the A30 and stayed on it through to the other side of Okehampton. Across the moor from Tavvy to Grimstone and I ran out to wake Bev up, and hopped straight into bed, while she took her pullover, which I was wearing. She came back 3 hours later - so much for Sonny's “1 hour” - he is as bad as Mum, but I was glad for the sleep. I think I would rather have stayed there than have had the pullover back, but c'est la vie. Let the seat down as far as it would go when I got back into the car, and Sonny burnt back via Ashburton onto the A38, stopping again at the station on the Exeter bypass for yet more soup - those blokes must be getting used to us by now, and the fellow did in fact comment on the different car. Then on back the way we came, filling up again at Dorchester, and then Sonny asked me to drive, which was apparently a very great honour, as in the 20000 odd miles which the car has done, I am the first person apart from Sonny to drive it. Got a completely different feeling driving it - paid little attention to road speed, the whole thing revolved about the rev counter, which I hardly let fall below 5000, and often enough it went the other side of 8000 - all very smooth, ohc is obviously an excellent idea. We certain shifted as well, but I did not like the road-holding: the oversteer was ok as far as I was concerned, but I did not like the steering or directional stability. I think, say what others will, the Citroën steering is much better, plenty of feel of the road, and no knocking back - I always used to think one went with the other. But the Stiletto is much easier work.

Got back to the house at about 0830, in time to wake an incredulous Mrs. McGibbon up and get her to make us all some breakfast. After that, they went out and we stayed at home - I tried to get Sonny to help me, but he was obviously dead to the world. Changed the oil, draining it into a bucket, which I could only fit by lifting the car a little: advantage of soft suspension. Did all the other work as well, Sonny stuck his head out at one point, but obviously decided that I could cope, and so left well alone. After that, back inside and rang up Paul Hallett, who arranged to arrive some time between 1400 and 1500, and we arranged to meeting. Then did a half-baked excursion into town, found out that ferries only arrive at 1325 and 1525, were about to go to the Wimpy Bar when I pointed out that none of us had any money, despite the fact that I got my £1 back from the BP station at Romsey last night. Headed back home, shortly later Jim's parents arrived, and we had a light lunch. Then we all went upstairs, and we talked a while, before I had to go off and pick Paul up. I arrived a couple of minutes early for the ferry, but it seems he had come by hovercraft and had been there about 15 minutes. Brought him home, and we talked for a while, while everybody gradually dozed off. Paul is trying to get a job with ICI as well, amongst other things. Then off to take him back, after he had turned down the McGibbon's offer of makan, and he took the shirt back with him that he left in Germany in April, nearly 7 months ago. After a positively bloating meal, rather against my will, we went into town, where I found Paul's overcoat, gloves and car keys, which made me laugh my head off. Tried to pick up some birds, but to no avail. Late to bed.


Sunday, 17 November 1968 Southampton → T. Wells → Chailey → Ashford → T.Wells
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Woke up very late, round about 1100 hrs, contrary to all our expectations. Through the usual manoeuvres of missing out everything, I was able to be the first down, and had a consequent long wait before anything happened.

After breakfast, I was minded to wash the car, and discovered I had bitten off more than I could chew (or very nearly so) when I was asked to wash Mrs. McGibbon's and Sonny's as well. Started off on my own, which did not take much washing, and seeing as though I had a hose, decided to spray all the mud off the underside of the car - what a mess! I knew mud was an inch thck on it before, but I did not realise it was in so many places. After that, sponged it down, as I had no chamois with me, then set to washing Sonny's glass (which was all he really wanted done). Then tried to get Mrs McGibbon's car out of the garage, which was no simple task, as it was obviously very reluctant to start. Washed it fairly roughly - could not be bothered to do it really well, and anyway, it would have needed cutting, polishing and waxing as well. Then left all to dry, and in to have a phone call from Paul, who was worried about the fate of his coat, and asked me to leave it at the Portsmouth Harbour railway station for him to collect. Then had makan, during which I noticed Mr McGibbons Leica M3 and decided to send Paul his coat from Tun Wells. Then we had preparations for leaving, final photos, the lot, an did not set off until 1530, giving me only 3 hours to pick Lesley up. Was not helped when we lost our way on the Winchester bypass, and I did a 4-wheel yump coming back. Gve a lift to a Riley driver with a defective petrol pump - why were electric petrol pumps ever made? - and then belted on again, losing our way on the way out of Billingshurst, which I attribute to Alan lack of navigational ability. Burnt from there to Tun Well, s were we arrived at 1730, which must be an average of 55 mph, which is astounding. Then belted straight back to pick Lesley up, making there just about in time, and then yet again back to Tun. Wells for makan, where Mrs Lane had done the dirty on us by going out and leaving us to our own devices as far as makan was concerned. Sonny said something about “The Graduate” being on at the Essoldo, so off to see that, arriving about 10 minutes late. Lesley “wanted to watch the film” - maybe she was having a period: that was not the only way to watch the film.

Then back to Westwood, where we had a cup of coffee, then belted on to Ashford to take her to some friends who were putting her up for the night, and she had to be in by 2230. Whether by accident or Lesley's design, no screw tonight - hardly even managed to kiss her, all very sad. Then off home again, and though late to bed, did little.


Monday, 18 November 1968 Tun. Wells → Guildford → London → Tun. Wells
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Up early today, woken by Alan, and over to Westwood for breakfast. There Sonny was in the midst of a transport problem, and I decided to help by taking Jim to his place - it was particularly important today, as he had all his tools with him. Then burnt on in the direction of Crawley and Horsham. I had intended to go cross-country from Crawley to Guildford, but the AA Handbook showed nothing and I could not be bothered dragging anything else out.

Then off to Guildford, which really is a quaint little town, rather reminiscent of Celle. To the bank and tried to cash a cheque for £10, which, to my surprise, did not bounce. Then got some petrol, worked out some rather depressing fuel consumption figures and went down for my interview. Looking for the place I got onto the building site, where all the roads were covered in mud, and managed, rather to my surprise, some tail slides without the aid of the brakes. Then to the interview, where a Mr. Winkler told me that, subject to the approval of the professor, I could well start immediately, but the professor was not of like mind and thought I should go up to some ICI plant somewhere up in County Durham in the near future, which I did not consider much of an idea, though I agreed at the time, a decision of which I am now repenting. I think I would be better off in Exeter - the only possible advantage of Guildford would be that I would be near Lesley, and I don't think that is sufficient excuse.

There were quite a few considerations I didn't note here. Firstly, the idea of starting immediately was bad because the first term was half over. The course was a “sandwich” course, where the students spent one year (normally the second) on site in the industry. The professor wanted me to do that first. That would have made much more sense, since I would have finished just as quickly. The business with Lesley made no sense: firstly, it was no longer looking very good, and in any case by the time I came back to Guildford she would have moved on. But I think what really turned me off was the appearance of the campus and the distance from County Durham to anything I knew.

Then off to London, where I arrived round midday, and to Lloyds bank, where letters awaited me from ICI, saying the job was mine at £780 a year, Dad, Customs, saying my £200 was enough, would I finalise arrangements, and Guildford, confirming this morning's interview.

The Customs greatly annoyed me. When I had been asked to pay the £200, it was stated that the sum would be round £180, and the £200 were just in case. There was no explanation or calculation for the new sum, and I was left with the feeling that they decided to take what they had.

Read Dad's letter on the way up to Regent Street/Oxford Street, looked round HQ&G [Photo surplus place], found no worthwhile lamps and was walking down Regent St. when Bruno Sampson saw me, and called out. He is now running a boutique in Kensington Market, openinig another in Carnaby Market, and apparently doing well if any of his bullshit is to be believed. He is getting married to a girl from Finland in the new year, and is off thither in mid-December for Christmas. After he had booked his passage to Finland, we went off to his place in my car - that scared him, belting down as in Singapore along the one-way streets. Got there all in one piece and had some lunch, while he told me how much this girl was in love with him, reading out her last two letters as proof, and how well he was doing, which he may well do, but he needs to think big, which he is not yet doing: he can't make a go of it until he does. Off to see his shop in Kensington Market, which was much smaller than I had expected, though he has quite a few nice things there, and obviously is doing well enough. Left him there and crawled back south through the rush hour. A lot of fog south of Bromley, especially on the Sevenoaks bypass, and even my fog lamps were glaring back at me. Got back just fractionally late for makan, and peole showed a vague interest in my interview, but spent most of the evening just messing around. Late to bed, despite.


Tuesday, 19 November 1968 Tun. Wells
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Alan did not actually come in to wake me this morning, though I heard him talking to Royston nevertheless, but decided that it would do little harm to catch up on my sleep, and accordingly slept until 1030hrs. Then got up and decided to continue on the right (?) foot by having a bath, which made me feel a lot better. After that, in to town and to the Steering Wheel Centre, where I had a chat with the bloke there about auxiliary long-range lamps - ideally I had wanted some square Cibiés, but they only had fogs, not very good looking ones anyway, and in any case, said that nothing could match the round Cibiés which they had in stock (in boxes marked “Projecteur Anti-Brouillard: Poids Lourd” [fog lamps for trucks] - I wonder if they are the correct boxes, or at any rate the corresponding fog lamps. Why should they recommend lorry lights?). They may well be, but they are not much to look at, big bulbous things. Still, I suppose efficiency must come before beauty.

Off after that to Broadwater Down, but Sonny did not seem to be coming, and so I set off to the Wimpy bar, where In due course Lynn arrived,

Until this point I had been spelling her name “Lin”.

and sat down with a friend. Sonny followed after a while, and expressed his incredulity that Cibié lights were available in Tun. Wells. Then over to talk to her friend, Chris, who is not much to look at, but quite nice otherwise and “lovely with it”, whatever that means, Then Sonny went and Hamid, a Persian, came, and Lynn tried to get him to invite her to see “The Graduate”, but to no avail - like Sonny and me, whom she had also tried, he had seen it 3 times, and did not feel inclined to see it this evening as well as his already planned go this afternoon. Took Lynn back to work, and then off to Bromley, where I got no lamps, advice that the Cibié were indeed the world's best, and a Citroën emblem similar to the one I got in KL at SAA. Then back to the Croft and cleaned out my fog lamp glass of the amber/brown paint - the glass has already cracked! - and painted it yellow with some stuff we got today. Then over to Westwood, where I eventually met up with Sonny, and we headed into town to buy the Cibiés, of which we made a complete farce, especially as he got them from the same bloke who was talking to me today, and forgot about the seat belt, which I had to give to him. Still, the blokes were very tolerant, and we eventually got everything. Then off home again and examined the stuff - it is apparently not possible to remove the glass from the reflector, so I shall have to paint the outside of the glass.

Had makan, then took Sonny's car to Tonbridge where we were supposed to leave it for lowering, but they were not able to do it until Saturday. Back again, I got my Cibiés and ascertained that, in fact, they would not fit on the bar without longer screws on the clamps, which I am obviously going to have to get tomorrow. Over to the Croft, tried out the spot - it is absolutely brilliant, makes the full beam look like nothing by comparison, and absolutely blinded me - what else to expect from 55 watts of QI? The only thing of which I am now worried is power consumption - on full beak, the lights alone will use 200 W in the front, 10 W behind, wipers could use 20, ignition another 20, etc, which is not going to leave much change out of a 290 W alternator - I wonder if I could get hold of a larger one, or possibly 2 of the things on a common shaft.

Then over to see Sonny, and ended up doing some music, which included me playing the theme from “Dr Schiwago” at Alan's request, much to his delight. Then took Jim off to hospital, as he had badly knocked about a knuckle and was scared of tetanus. They were not very helpful. On the way back, Sonny converted himself to QI, and now wants to do likewise with his car.


Wednesday, 20 November 1968 Tun. Wells
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Up earlier this morning - Alan decided to wake me this time, though it still was a while before I spluttered over to Westwood, Than I was landed with the responsibility of taking Jim to school, after which I came back to the Croft and started working on the car. Decided to fit the safety belt first, which was by no means as simple as it seemed. The first thing I did was to remove the front seat, which considerably simplified matters. Then I got the old Kangol safety belt on the other side, discovered in in the process that I had stripped the thread of one of the plastic safety belt screws - n'importe, there are two of them. Had considerable difficulty getting the Kangol reel into place, but eventually managed it. Then out put the Britax belt on the other side, which was even more difficult, as the whole thing was attached to a base plate on a ball and socket head screwed into the floor, and the base plate was too large to clear the mounting point bolts, so I had to trim the corners with my trusty old hacksaw blade, which has been lying idle since I used it to remove my old exhaust system in Hamburg. Then more trouble with a mounting bracket for the other end of the long strap, which I eventually solved with a leftover bit from the Kangol belt. By comparison the centre strap went in quite simply, without any problems.

Then took a breather, had coffee, and went into town to get some stuff I needed for mounting the long range lights. To Howards for some screws for the mounting clips, also one for the safety belt (the one they gave me had no thread), and then to Halford's for some electrical accessories - got a small switch panel with two switches and warning lights, as well as a plug to the battery. Also some wire and extensions for the switches in the middle. Home, and screwed the lights on the bar at the front and did my best to wire them up, discovered in in the process that I only just had enough wire. Whipped the switch for the reversing light and changed it with one of the lights. Eventually get everything wired up to my satisfaction, using a red warning light for the spot and a green for the fog, and the long-range switched in such a way that it would only come on in conjunction with full beam. Those things really are bright! Adjusted them vaguely, then off into town to see Sonny, and he agreed. Only snag is, they seem to use up all available power. At home again, had makan for what it was worth, then talking with Sonny, and eventually he, Jim and I set off to Chailey, mainly in order to adjust the lights - the effect of these things is unbelievable - to quote “The sound of silence”: “... light, split the night”. Only snag is having to dip from them. Thing looks most impressive with all 6 lights on. Had a drink, then off to pick up Lesley, then back to Warrenwood, where she was not very nice to me, and in fact rather depressed me. Went back home fed up with women, had some fish and chips, and as late as usual to bed.


Thursday, 21 November 1968 Tun. Wells
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After yesterday, today was pretty much of an anticlimax. Had to take Jim into school, and while I was in town I had a look round Halfords to see what else I could get, which proved not to be much. On the way home saw Jo walking, so took her to her college,

I think this must have been Marie-José, a French girl.

and to the Post office to buy some envelopes, and then down to the Croft to write some letters. In fact, I only got as far as writing a letter to Dad, which took quite a long time by virtue of its length. Then was going to write some more, but could not be bothered, so went round for a drive around the Kent and Sussex countryside, as the weather was so nice. Moved at a fair belt - going along a dual carriageway, moved off onto a side road which was rather twisty, and then came back on the dual carriageway, still the same distance in front of the car behind as when I started. Posted my letter to Dad, then to the Wimpy bar to see Sonny and Lin. Lin wanted to know what I had been doing in the 4 days since last I saw her, until I pointed out it was only two.

Home, and wrote some more letters after I had settled in and fitted my 2 chevrons on the back of the car - used a drill which I had bought from Woolworths, not too bad for 10/-. Wrote a letter to Guildford telling them to forget about it, one to London saying I was willing to be interviewed, and one to Citroën in Paris about the lights, sending a carbon-copy to Slough. Showed that to Alan, who was very impressed, but obviously he is a bullshit artist and thus liable to appreciate the same.

Then over to Westwood, where we had makan, after which I went on a solo burn, came back, took Lin home for Alan - he apparently has been moving with her - and then bought some fish and chips, and ate them on the common. Then home, where Sonny and I tried to persuade Alan and Jim to buy cars. I worked on Jim trying to persuade him to buy a 2CV, and eventually got him interested. Very late to bed.


Friday, 22 November 1968 Tun. Wells → Horsham → Tun. Wells
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Up very late this morning, and then only as a result of the fact that somebody rang the phone until I answered it. Then decided to have a bath, which is a fairly safe thing to do at that time of the morning, and made the best of it. Then down to the post office and posted my letters, then to the Wimpy Bar, where nobody was, so off to buy Exchange and Mart and Practical Motorist. In the former looked for a 2CV, and found a couple in interesting condition. Rang up one woman in Horsham, who had a 1957 model, rhd, to offer, and then arrange to see the thing this evening at 1830-1900. Alan came along, too, presumably as a result of my suggesting I would me her [Lynn?] here today. Then came Lynn and a girl who calls herself KT, and also Sonny and Charlie. These left first, then I took Alan to the college and Lynn to her work, and ended up alone with KT. Headed back home and messed up one of my foglights (again), and then decided to go for a drive. Removed the foglight, and left it in the Croft, then off through Tun. Wells, where I helped her look for some records, then out into the countryside and drove round for a bit, until I found a convenient place to stop, and then got moving - as far as the waist. That girl has possibly the softest, most delicate tongue I have yet come across, but also teeth as hard as any other, and these did my tongue little good. Her breasts are very nice, too, though she did not want me to get moving on them, presumably so that she would be able to keep to the waist. Then to Mayfield, where we had a cream tea, reminiscent of the Old Forge at Chagford. KT has also been to Devon, actually stayed at Netherton Farm. Usual coincidences. Then took her back to Tun. Wells, met Sonny on the way, then took KT to an off license and bought some sherry, then took her home. Then home to Westwood and found Jim, then off to Horsham to have a look at this 2CV. Had a particularly impossible time finding the place, eventually found it and met Mrs. Cooke, who told us that the regulator had had it, and that she was getting a new one. The car was a bit scruffy, lot of little things had to be done, but in the main the thing was in pretty good trim - the engine and transmission, suspension and brakes all seemed OK, no play, wheels OK, etc. The woman had no idea of how much to expect, and seemed interested when I offered her £45. The drive shafts knock more than I would have expected from even standard shafts, but I suppose there is an easy way out of that one, as long as we can get hold of some homokinetic shafts.

The old 2CVs had single-jointed drive shafts, which did indeed knock a lot when steering tight circles.

Then drove back again at an average speed in the region of 60 mph, and then to the hospital to look for Annette for Jim. No go, and so off to Westwood, where Jim rang up his father and arranged to come down on Sunday. Then dropped Jim at the Essoldo, and up to pick KT up, and found Alan and Lynn there. Sonny came along and had coffee with us, then along to the flickhouse, in which a communal atmosphere reigned, which made it difficult to get moving with KT. The first film was about Malaysia in the war, the second was the original Frankenstein film, made in 1931. Was none too sad when it was over. Took Lynn and Alan home, then up Stone Farm way and continued with KT. For the first time in a long time - since Liliane Gunton, I think - a girl tickled me. If only she had rubbed. Got her stripped to the waist, but she would not go below the waist. Then took her home and back to the Croft, then spent a long time telling Alan how to live. To bed at 0500.


Saturday, 23 November 1968 Tun. Wells → Chailey → Lewes → Tun. Wells
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Up very late this morning - Alan came in and started talking about flying, about not getting clearance from Biggin Hill, and all the rest, but it strikes me he is relieved not to have gone up; perhaps it just provided him with a convenient excuse. In any case, he apparently feels well boosted by the talk I gave him this morning, and said he had rung Lynn up and asked her to give him advance warning if she were to dump him - this as a consequence of my telling him that one of these days Lynn might leave him. The poor fellow has completely missed the point.

Got up and went over to Westwood, where Sonny was still in bed. Talked with Jim and Jo in the lounge, with frequent interruptions from others. After a while Alan came in with Lynn, and I brought my recorder over, and we all messed around until lunch, when Sonny got up. After makan in to the Steering Wheel Centre to have a look for some Cibié QI fogs, but they did not have any. Saw a standard version, didn't look up to much, complete with mounting diagrams for, inter alia, Ami 6. In exactly the same places as where I have put my Bosch units, which does not explain how they protect the things. Back to Westwood, where Sonny got me to follow him to Tonbridge to have his suspension lowered. In the process got some photos of him doing a spin in the main street of Tonbridge. Left the car for a while, back into town for some cuff links for a friend of Sonny's who is having a birthday party tonight, then left Sonny in Tonbridge and went back to Westwood for a while, until I was asked to take Lynn home. Alan got annoyed when Lynn got in the front with me, and decided not to come, thus leaving the way open for her to air her worries to me - I seem to be taking on the rôle of counsellor again: reminds me of Bruno and Bärbel. In any case, was rather glad of it, as previously I had just been playing blind about Lynn's feelings towards Alan, whereas now I know for sure. Besides, it is rather satisfying to discover one's judgement is right. If only I had the answer to the question, what does Lynn think of me? Doctor, heal thyself! She invited me in to meet her father - I have already met her mother, who apparently is impressed by me - and so in. Father was impressed by my car, and I made a terrible faux pas when, in reply to his suggestion that it be incongruous that a fellow like me have a car like the Ami 6, I replied that it was no better a car than his. I rather think he missed it. Talked to him for a while, while Lynn made us coffee. I wonder if Lynn is interested in me per se (really per me?), or whether she just wants to show a correctly coloured specimen of her friends.

Like Sonny, Alan was some kind of Indian, probably also Tamil. And I have a recollection that her parents were prejudiced against coloured people, as the following sentence bears out:

Alan is apparently in a spot, as he spoke to Mr. Leipnick on the phone and got invited to visit the college - Mr. Leipnick thinks he is white.

Off without trimming my incipient beard (since Thursday) to Chailey, to pick up Lesley, who is frustrating/annoying me. I notice some machine pictures of another bloke on her dressing table. Good luck to him - he can have her. I felt today like I did on the 6th April 1966, and often in the last summer - incompatible. Had some makan at the Griffin in Fletching, then off to Lewes to see a film, which proved to be Prudence and the Pill, which amused Lesley very much, while I nearly went mad with frustration. Took her home, got nowhere with her, and left her. Home, where things were still going on, and messed around with a tape recorder for some time, wrote up for yesterday, and slept in Jim's bed for ease in getting up early tomorrow. Despite this did not get to bed until 0130.


Sunday, 24 November 1968 Tun. Wells → Southampton → Tun. Wells
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Jim woke me up at 0450 and was astounded at the manner in which I sprang wide awake from bed, having just spent 10 minutes trying to wake Sonny. Downstairs to where Jo was preparing toast and coffee, and took some of that before setting off for Tonbridge to pick Lin up - everybody was running behind time, and Sonny was a major cause of this, which rather disappointed me. Lynn was ready and waiting, bless her, and so off we set back to Westwood, where we had a bit more to eat before setting off. Lynn decided to sit in the front, which was rather nice of her, with Sonny and Jo in the back and Jim in the boot, wrapped up in my blanket. Thus on to the A272, belting considerably with the aid of my QIs and without the hindrance of heavy traffic, until I ran out of petrol 200 yards from an AA box, where I was told that the nearest all-night service station was in Horsham, so used up my ½ gallon of 2x for getting there, only to discover that the thing had yet to be adjusted to the new petrol prices, and was not working. Cursed violently and back to the AA box, where we got them to send a few gallons, but they said it would take ½ - ¾ hour. After waiting a rather lively 1¼ hours, set off for Billingshurst, but did not make it, and were just trying to scrounge some off a nearby builder and charm all the cows in the opposite field with a rendering of Händel's opus 1 on the recorder (which they appreciated) when the AA bloke (actually a local farmer) caught up with us and gave us 4 gallons of 3x for 25/- - these prices are really soaring. Then belted on to Southampton, which we made by 1000 hrs, with Jim, Sonny and Lynn asleep. Got some photos of Jim asleep in the back before going in for breakfast, during which Jim broke the news about wanting a 2CV, and I apparently put up a very convincing argument, to judge my Mrs. McGibbon's comment that I should become a lawyer. In any case, opinion from the parents was not too good, and Jim's father said that he would consider buying it for him if he could pay the insurance, which seems a little odd to me, and if he could prove that he was doing well academically. Then left that, and I went out to wash my car, which was really in need of it. This took a while, while I showed Jim the front suspension while cleaning inside the wheel arches and bonnet. Then in for lunch, which, if not excellent, was very good. What Mrs. MrGibbon lacks in quality she more than makes up for in quantity, and I was feeling bloated afterwards. Up for as long a rest as I could before we had to leave, and then the usual farewells, permission to come down over the weekend, etc. Put my front tyre pressures up to 30 lb/in², which lightened the steering slightly and made the car understeer noticeably less. Belted it, and got a noticiable [sic] oversteer round some corners, as well as a tail-end drift and a full yump over a certain bridge, the exact location of which I keep forgetting. Enjoyed myself so much, and Lynn (still in the front seat) with me, that I took the short cut from Chailey to Crowborough, via Nutley, where I enjoyed myself further. Took Lynn home - I often seem to have her in the car by myself, and one of these days I ought to try something.

Indeed. That sounds like the idée fixe of 1968.

Back, spoke to Bev about Edinburgh, also unconditional, and had makan. After that, off to a pub, and then did a bit of belting round the countryside, I enjoying my first experience of opposite lock, provided by the high front tyre pressures. Overcorrected, but stabilised. Then home again, and talked a long while before going to bed.


Monday, 25 November 1968 Tun. Wells
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After the lack of sleep over the weekend, slept in today until 1230, then quickly up and belted into town, infuriating myself in the process by scratching the car. Still, that is not too bad, considering I have done what amounts to an average main yearly mileage on the thing. Sonny saw me as I parked, and suggested I would get the correct touch-up paint at Halfords. Went along there, but naturally enough was not successful. Took some caps along for comparison - BMC Spruce Green and Triumph British Racing Green. The former looked OK, and I was going to buy it, until after lunch Lynn and I parked next to a spruce green 1800 and compared - it was much lighter. Then went looking for a BRG Triumph which we also found - not very close, either. Eventually, at the Steering Wheel Centre, bought some Rootes Forest Green BRG, which seemed a pretty close match. Off home with all sorts of things, abrasives, primers, etc, and got moving, and for my first attempt did not do at all badly. This paint is, of course, not a perfect match, but it hardly shows up. Had a bit of trouble with the wind coming up and blowing the spray everywhere, but eventually things worked out, and by 1630 I was finished. Felt like going and doing something extravagant, preferably with Lynn, but resisted the temptation, and instead headed over to Westwood round 1700 hrs to see Sonny, who had still not turned up by 1745, so off to look for him, but passed him on the way.

Then back again, where Sonny was swearing about the price of 175-300 G800s. Had makan, then out down town for some obscure purpose or another, and eventually ended up at Broadwater Down to pick Lynn and Alan up. Alan was apparently furious about this, and swore violently when he saw us - and I used to worry about my language! Headed off to the Ivy House in Tonbridge, picking up a hitchhiker on the way, who went into the boot. Alan was in a violent temper, threatened to beat Sonny up at one point, and then I told him off for behaving childishly, and he more or less came to - or so I thought. Dropped Lynn home, then Alan, while Sonny, Jim and I had a cup of coffee in Westwood, and decided to go to Malaysia in the summer with Bev - overland with my Ami. I can see this becoming almost a regular thing.

What became a regular thing was talk of such journeys. I never again went further east than İzmir.

One of these days it might even become economically practicable. Then back to talk to Alan, who had a telephonic argument with Lynn, and seems unwilling to accept my advice, though I talked to him for 1½ hours.


Tuesday, 26 November 1968 Tun. Wells
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Up very late today, at 1230, which just about gave me time to get dressed before heading down to the Wimpy Bar. When I got there, Jim had already arrived, and I told him about my explorations in Alan's room. So much for his bullshit about being worth millions of dollars: his bank balance is only just in the black at the moment, and at times has not been. In addition, he has only done a total of 80 hours flying, considerably less than the varying reports of 320 - 700 that we have heard. Sonny came in, and Lynn after him, and we told them. Lynn has definitely and absolutely finished with Alan, who had apparently accused her of sleeping with Sonny last night on the place - OK, so we know she has, but what a thing to tell her! After Sonny and Jim went, she spent quite a bit of time trying to point out that she had not slept with Sonny - too much time even for me to be convinced, even had I not known that she had. I think she is getting keen on me, and like it. What a bastard that I am going away from Tunbridge Wells tomorrow. Asked her if she would be interested to come on the cross-Asia trip, which she said she would. I should like her to come - she is in a position to say yes, and I should like to show all this to some bird or another. Took her back to work, then off back to the Croft, where I was looking at the car, and decided to attempt to remove the oil from the underbonnet padding, and decided to remove the bonnet, as this looked so easy - it was, too, and the wings came off easily as well, revealing rather less-easily-removed mudguards underneath. Took some photos of it like that, though some day I am going to take the whole front off, and possibly find the contact breaker while I am about it.

That wasn't necessary. The contact breakers were at the end of the camshaft, behind the fan. Access from the air intake at the front.

Put the car back together again, and read “Stiletto” - another Harold Robbins book - a bit, then in to town to see about insurance for Jim, but the place was already shut. Back to Westwood, where Jim was keeping his fingers crossed. Had a rather better makan than average, then Bev rang up and asked me if she could speak to “Jay”. She is getting brain washed too. She said my car has been registered, OTT 523G, but that, as my cover note was not valid on the 1.XII, would I please send another? Also making plans about the cheese and wine party, and Bev coming up here. In the middle of all this, Jim's parents, who were with him in conference in his room, came out, and arranged with me to stay with them overnight tomorrow night, on the way down to Devon. Poor Jim didn't get his 2CV - maths pulled him down, and his father wanted to wave it in front of his nose to encourage him.

Then had one hell of a blowing-up with Alan. It slipped off him like water off a duck's back - he has isolated himself. The only thing that did hurt was that I had looked at his bank balance - even then, it did not bring him to his senses. Maybe it was a nasty thing to do, especially as it does not seem to have helped him. What the hell - why worry about that sort of bloke?


Wednesday, 27 November 1968 Tun. Wells → London → Reading → Southampton
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Woken at 0900 by the postman ringing to give me a large letter. Swore, but it was probably just as well if I wanted to get done today what I had to do. In any case, got everything straightened out, and was on the road by 1015. Now what happens? Whither do I go? There are times when I wish I could just stagnate and forget about travelling, but fortunately there are few. Arrived in London shortly before 1200, and headed straight to the bank, where there was no mail for me, and got myself £5. Then got a bus to High Holborn and the Home Office immigration and nationality department, where I was put at the end of a long queue, and had the impression of waiting there for hours, but in fact it all went through very quickly, and I was given a sheet of paper saying that I was allowed to engage in gainful employment until the 22.X.1969.

Then off by tube to Leicester Square, and in the process of getting myself lost, got hold of Stern and Pardon. Then off to the AA to ask for some route guides, and also had a look at the maps they had to offer, which were very poor. The only one was of SE Asia, and pointless, as I have an Esso map of Malaysia which is much better.

I still (in 2016) have that map. By modern standards it's terrible.

Then, however, discovered “Autocar” and “Motor” with reports on the London–Sydney Marathon, which I bought. Then off to the car park, got my car, and headed out of town, having lunch at the Heston Service Area (which, for some reason, reminds me of Hamburg/Stillhorn). Then on to Reading, eventually found Duke St, and up to the Permanent Insurance Brokers

This company no longer exists.

to get another cover note, as well as a lot of bullshit from Clive P. Higgs while I was at it - he was quite pleasant. Then had a look round a war-surplus shop and nearly bought a rev-counter out of a Tiger Moth for 25/-. Off in the direction of Basingstoke and Southampton, which is nearer than I thought at only 127 miles [204 km] from Tun. Wells the way I came - this is ridiculous! Coming from Welwyn it could hardly be more than 100 miles [161 km, in fact very close]). Went in to town to try to buy some flowers for Mrs. Mc. Gibbon, but could not find any florists. Maybe it is just as well: she seems to prefer plastic flowers. Then in to Greenacres, and told Mrs Mc.Gibbon about the planned overland trip. She was extremely keen, but when Mr. McGibbon came there were complications - he did not want Jim (Jr) to go - he wanted to go himself! In any case, he eventually reconciled himself to the idea and said Jim could go.

Had makan - this instant rice does not taste as good as the real thing - and then watched TV and read. Quite a quiet evening, but did finish “Stiletto”, and consequently late to sleep.


Thursday, 28 November 1968 Southampton → Horrabridge
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Mrs McGibbon woke me this morning, as requested, at 1000 hrs, and I spent quite a leisurely while getting up, shaving, and getting dressed before heading down to the kitchen, where Mrs. Mc.Gibbon was doing some spring-cleaning with the aid of a char called Olive. Cooked myself a rather greasy (buttery, in fact) omelette with bacon, and ate that, then decided to write up my diary for yesterday - I am severely neglecting this of late, and am beginning to wonder if I might even give it up in the near future; the decay has already begun with the loss of my photographic notebook, and my subsequent giving up keeping notes, but I rather hope that this record will go on a little longer than that, being as it is already nearly 6 years old.

After that, the time had miraculously advanced to noon, and I decided I had better get a move on if I wanted to arrive in Tavvy in time to pick up Bev from school, and accordingly set off, stopping only at Stockbridge for petrol - I decided to go up to Winchester, and then join the A272/A303. Passing Ilchester, the time was 1430, so the circumstances were exactly the same as the first time I came down in the Ami 6 - same day of the week, same time of the day. I was belting it then, and did today. To my astonishment I knocked my time from Ilchester → Tavistock from 120 minutes to 95 minutes, a notable increase in average speed. Obviously getting used to this car is making its effects felt.

The previous time must have been on 24 October 1968, but I didn't note the time from Ilchester. The time from Honiton was 80 minutes, however, and that's 50 km away, so it could be plausible. Probably the issue was that last time I drove through Exeter.

In 2016, Google Maps gives a time of 94 minutes for the journey, though the roads have improved beyond measure.

Bev was not at school, though it was only 1605; subsequent enquiry revealed that she had not been to school. Saw a couple of letters, though nothing requiring really urgent action. Then had a bite to eat - in my haste, I had forgotten to have any lunch - and up to get dressed before setting off to this damned cheese and wine party, which was hardly what I expected it to be, though it had a few moments. Bev was worrying about Sonny's reaction to her teasing him on the phone, and decided she would have to see him over the weekend. Saw a fashion show, 3 years out of date, which dragged through 1¼ hours. Off to a pub for a while, then back in time to take photos of the girls messing around with wigs. Home after all the cleaning up, and I talked Mrs Andrew into letting Bev come up to see Sonny tomorrow. Packed, late to bed.


Friday, 29 November 1968 Horrabridge → Southampton → Tun. Wells
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Mrs Andrew woke me this morning with the message that I had better get a move on if I wanted to take the kids to school, and I got up pretty snappily, resisting the temptation to say I didn't want to take them to school, and downstairs, wondering how to get away without turning up again and without arousing Mrs. Andrew's suspicion, when this was solved by, of all people, Alain Baudouy, who rang up and suggested that I saw him some time. His idea was Sunday night, but I told Mrs. Andrew that I would go over to Netherton today, and would just come back to pick Bev up again. Then took the kids to school, off for petrol, and then across the moor via Moretonhampstead, and got caught in some quite heavy fog before Exeter. Then belted down Honiton way to Dorchester and took the wrong turning at Bere Regis, with the result that we went almost to Poole before getting a B road up to Wimborne Minster. Then down to Southampton and Greenacres, arriving at about 1240, doubtless somewhat to Mrs. McGibbon's surprise. Introduced her to Bev, and had quite an animated talk and lunch. Then off again, round 1430, along the old well-worn A272 as far as Chailey, everything going completely without incident, though a memory at West Grinstead made me spend some of my last money on some petrol. This is the first time I have been along this road on a weekday, and it was much more crowded in the towns than ever before. Took the road through Fletching and Nutley from Chailey, which was again much more densely populated than I ever remembered it. Made it to Tunbridge Wells by 1630, and up to Broadwater Down, where Sonny was not. With all sorts of dire visions of him going down to Devon to see Bev, off to Westwood, where fortunately he was: he and Jim had gone up to London for the day. Off to look for a hotel, changed our minds, off to pick up Lynn, who was not there, and back to Westwood again to sort out our plans. There I rang Lynn up and asked her if she wanted to come out, but she claimed to have a stinking cold and not to have been at work that afternoon as a result. Decided to go for makan and had some fantastic curry at a place called (appropriately) the Curry Inn. Then Jim and I went home and partially chatted up Jo and her friend, Marie-Niège, but didn't get far. Also played him chess - he beat me twice, I him only once. Bev and Sonny home, all very late to bed.


Saturday, 30 November 1968 Tun. Wells
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Woken up round 0900 this morning by Sonny coming in with the news that it had been bloody cold in the lounge without a blanket. Got up and went downstairs, were I was able to confirm this, and had a bit to eat at the same time. Then, time disappearing in its usual miraculous way, I headed into town to see if I could get some reflective number plates, and saw the sign in Halfords suggesting that they could offer prompt delivery, which in practical terms meant next weekend, so gave it up as a bad job and got £10 out of the bank instead. Then off back home, where Sonny wanted transport up to Tonbridge to take his car in to have the suspension lowered. Took him in, and there he saw some second-hand racing tyres and wheels to fit his Imp - 6½J front, 7J back, 4.50-12L, whatever that means: 4.50 can't refer to the tread, which is 9-10 inches. They wanted £45 for it, and Sonny wanted my advice on the matter. I suggested that they could well come in handy, especially if he did a lot of track work, and that the price seemed reasonable.

Then into Tun. Wells, where Sonny got some money, I a couple of glass cleaners, and then off back to Westwood, dropped the two, and went to pick up Lynn, who seemed to be feeling a bit better than her claims for last night. Her mother, who had obviously take care to put her face on, seemed pleased to see me - she is probably as good looking as Lynn (hope to God Lynn never reads this!). Off to Westwood, where we went to Jim's room and looked at slides of the trip, amidst interruptions such as Alfredo coming in to ask us to drink apple wine with time [sic], and Jim wanting to play “The Good, Bad and the Ugly” for her. Off to look for the photos of myself with my last beard, but could not find them. Lynn likes this one, commented on how fast it has come up (which it has - goatee looks good after 8 days). Then off to the Wimpy for lunch, after which we prepared to go to Brand's hatch, but unfortunately Sonny's car was not ready, and they said 1800 hrs. Sonny bought the tyres, as well as a roll bar, for £48, which was not bad, especially as it included the fitting of the roll bar. Then off, in the rain, to Brands, despite my objections that it would be too wet. Splashed a woman in a puddle, with very spectacular results, and much to the amusement of everybody, though I felt rather ashamed. Got off quickly, and at Brands, Sonny suggested that I did not go after all, as it was too wet. Then sat round, had a drink, looked at a rather sparse practice, and off again having achieved little more than the arrangements for this evening. Dropped Lynn home, then off myself and completed a few things before going to the Curry Inn for a Chicken Beryani, quite good, then back to Westwood, wrote up for yesterday, and off to pick up Lynn, very nicely dressed. Then back, picked up Alfredo and Jim, and to La Bamba, hardly the place I had expected. Got Lynn a drink, danced a bit, but did nothing very spectacular - apparently the place depressed Lynn as much as me, though for different reasons. Did not get very far with her, for the reason that I did not try, though I doubt trying would have helped much. Also she has changed her mind about my beard, wich as far as I am concerned is just bad luck - I didn't do it for Jenny, and I won't do it for her.

Off early from there, and to the Po-King chinese restaurant, where we had quite a nice time, Lynn trying to learn to use chopsticks and malay at the same time (with aid of my driving license). Bev came in soon to say that Jim and Alfredo were outside, but only found Alfredo. Took him home, and shortly later came Jim in a taxi, having taken his girl home thus. Then took Lynn home, promising at same time to teach her to drive.


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