I promise to pay the bearer

The Plastic Hippo


Like hearts, dreams, ambitions, mobile phones and the best wine glasses kept at the back of the cupboard for special occasions, promises are easily broken. There is a long and contemptuous tradition of politicians promising all manner of goodies to a gullible electorate without ever having any intention of coming up with the goods. When challenged to explain the failure to deliver pie-in-the-sky promises, the rulers with more ambition than heart usually ignore the awkward questions or sometimes talk of a change in circumstances or trot out the tired excuse that the promise was misunderstood by stupid voters.

The hilarious shambles in the House of Commons over the vote to have a vote on not having a vote to vote to enact a bill to re-adopt the European Arrest Warrant is just the latest farce in a long line of duplicitous wriggling that stretches back to the Stone Age. This…

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But is it Art?


Linda and I travelled down to London today to visit the Tower of London as the “Tower of London Remembers, ” fittingly closes on November 11th. It was ironic that today was the day BBC Radio 5 chose to have a heated debate on the merits of filling the Tower moat with a Sea of Red which was a reflection of the 888,000 men who lost their lives in the Great War.

I hadn’t actually considered that some would be outraged or disgusted at the tribute but the Radio 5 listeners often surprise me. I hadn’t actually considered that using art to commemorate the sacrifices made was bad form, In fact my memory abounds of many using creative media to report, explain, understand or exorcise. I haven’t read much poetry in my life but I was given a pocket book of Siegfried Sassoon poetry as a small boy by my Mother “because it was important” and I remember that among the first films my Father bought after obtaining a Bell & Howell 8mm projector was “Wings over the Western Front”.  The flickering black and white images offered in silence were poignant statements, the lyrical words emphasised the horror; 888,000 poppies rammed home the sheer volume of lost life.  What other way would there be to show what 888,000 looks like? Each poppy a person, each poppy a telegram, each poppy a wake of despair and a future irrevocably changed. Art? Maybe. Brutal? definitely. Fitting? absolutely.

We managed to find a reasonably quiet spot, near Traitors Gate, to take a moment to reflect. I’m in no way religious and I believe that those who wish for war should be the first into the melee, rather than barking orders from a safe distance but the words of the poem that is rolled out every Remembrance Sunday echoed around my head. “They shall not grow old as we grow old, ….Age shall not weary them, … They sleep beyond England’s foam.”

Somewhere in that moat was my Great Grandfather, he didn’t make it back across the foam in any manner. Lost forever in the mud of the Somme. I picked a Poppy, it seemed brighter than the rest, that was him. I shared a moment in the pouring rain and considered what had been and what could have been, for things were certainly very different for those he left behind. I then looked across the “bloodswept land” and tried to take in the 888,000 futures that could have been.

There are plenty of ways to dispute the validity of war. There are plenty of ways to show anger at a system and plenty of ways to try and push a twisted vision of patriotism  The Poppy isn’t one of them it is as it was meant to be, an icon of Remberance.


Disgusted of Chipping Norton

The Plastic Hippo

Image via upr.fr Image via upr.fr

There can be few things as unintentionally funny as witnessing a conman bluster manufactured outrage after being accused of being a conman and then proven to be a conman. The usual defence of indignant silence when presented with evidential facts goes out of the window once the game is up. When the stock response to being caught red handed is not to dignify sordid allegations of being bang to rights with a rebuttal will not work, then the only course of action is to summon up carefully rehearsed apoplectic fury.

David Cameron`s tub-thumping lectern abuse in Brussels on Friday was not just hilarious, but also smacked of a chocolate covered kid denying he had stolen the Mars Bar. To be fair to the Chipping Norton conman, being presented with an unexpected bill for nearly £1.7billion would make any of us bang the table and search out someone…

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Midge Mk2 build diary. (chassis work complete)


After what seems like an age, the rejuvenating of the SJ chassis is complete. Anything that is still rusty in the pictures is being replaced by new bits so no thinking I’m being slapdash.IMAG0094 IMAG0069

Connor had a lesson in making fuel lines and I set about the painful task of cutting the stainless steel braided fuel line. The final job was to give everything a good clean with Bilt Hamner Surfex HD and the jetwash. This included the drive which has suffered a real hammering over the last few weeks. I am smugly happy with the finished job and looking back at pre clean up photos it is hard to believe how far it has come on.

As Connor has finished college for a while, I have taken the coming week off work so that we can start the bodywork and I really can’t wait; so I didn’t. The first job was to seal the floor from the elements using a concoction of PVA glue and Wilkinsons exterior wood and metal paint as suggested by John Cowperthwaite in his car build manual. I was a little less than convinced but there is no denying the finished panels look amazing. I mixed the glue and undercoat and applied it with an emulsion roller over the plywood which had been pretreated with watered down PVA. The resulting textured effect was very pleasing. After being allowed to dry properly I finished with a couple of coats of satin black applied with a gloss roller. I tested the strength of the finish with my fingernail and the fingernail lost, who needs emery boards when you have a Midge floor?

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So that is where we are. Tuesday the interesting work starts for real, I will try and update my blog daily but if I can’t the pictures should make it to Twitter with monotonous frequency at @aideym