Updated: Aug 1, 2019
Looking out of the window today, as we approach the middle of June in the UK, Frederic Leighton’s painting of Flaming June seems positively ironic rather than merely hopeful.
The garden water butts are overflowing, the wind is cold, and I’ve extracted the woolly jumpers that I’d optimistically put away for the duration.
To put no finer point on it, it’s absolutely piddling down out there.
It’s probably all my fault. After all there I was, only last week, waxing lyrical about the joys of classic summers. Sorry about that.
Now, I’m a firm believer that, unless incredibly rare or fragile, classic cars are for all year and not just sunny days. They were built to be driven.
Usually content to enjoy the assorted family old dears in sun, rain or snow, days of incessant sogginess have finally driven me indoors. At least I don't have to water the garden this week.
It’s not so much that I mind the puddles, and I’ve already wrapped up against the cold, but driving rain offers limited driving entertainment.
Original vinyl from the 1950’s and 1960’s feels distinctly clammy. OK – seat covers. Can do.
Retro heaters (eventually) provide a warming blast but, on days when the rain is driven hard from low clouds, the cold humidity outside is somehow inescapable.
Perhaps it’s a psychological thing. It’s cold, windy and my local river has enthusiastically burst its banks. The grey can become a state of mind.
It doesn’t help that my Moggy (Kitty, by name) is currently glass-less. Not just a windscreen, mind you, but the whole dratted lot of it.
Planning on doing some hefty mileage in Kitty next year, I’d decided to make the most of the dry, warm, long evenings to do some major-league tinkering.
Start with safer modern glass throughout, I thought. Being able to see where I’m going seemed a good idea. Renew all of window seals at the same time. No more leaks – perfick!
I’m bound to find myself on a fair few motorways and major A-roads on the big road trip, so anti-roll bar and disc brake conversion. Tick. New shocks. Tick.
The wiring loom is original and looks like a mouse has had a little nibble here and there. Wet weather plus live wires: not a great combo. Let’s pull out the wiring too.
Hmm. A discreetly modern sound system would be rather nice too… add to list of chores. Might as well do an engine rebuild whilst I’m at it. Recovery vans are so embarrassing – when I’m attached to one, anyway.
You can see where this is going, I’m sure. I’m lucky enough to have a workshop and pretty much all the toys needed to play in it, so whilst Kitty’s off the road anyway…
After all, when I need a classic fix, I can always abscond with dearly beloved’s Austin. Shh – nice peeps don’t tell tales.
Hows-ever, dearly beloved’s little old lady has developed leaky window seals. I mean, seriously, the running water type of leaky.
After only a couple of miles in full-on rain, a drip, drip, dripping sound becomes noticeable from beside the A-pillars and inside the doors. Definitely not good.
It was supposed to be summer-ish and dry by now, and the job of replacing the seals was recklessly postponed until later in the year. Certainly before autumn.
The result is that dearly beloved’s confined his car to a sand-bagged garage until the downpour lets up a teensy bit at least, and my absconding with his treasure just now could cause severe ructions in the family harmony department.
So, having stripped Kitty pretty much naked, I’m left with automotive modernity. Well, modern-ish. Modern cars have so little personality.
I really shouldn’t complain. I do have a 26-year-old 4X4 as consolation. She’s jacked up, rusty and unashamedly crusty and – motorway or muddy mountainside – goes pretty much anywhere. I love her unabashed utility.
It’s been raining solidly now for over forty-eight hours, and dearly beloved has been complaining all afternoon that the river has begun to intrude onto the main road.
He has to go out and doesn’t like taking our incredibly reliable modern Volvo when the road starts to flood. Poor baby.
Hold on. I’ve just heard an engine. That’s not a Volvo engine sound.
I don’t believe it. The rotter’s nicked my Terrano!
Oh well, turnabout is fair play, I guess.
Flaming June, indeed!