Letter from the Secretary

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Extract from October's MGOC publication - Enjoying MG
Written by Roche Bentley, Club Secretary

Letter from the secretary

Are you a flasher? I am, I add of course that apart from my penchant for dressing up as a voluptuous blonde at fancy dress parties, (Jersey MGOC still talk about it!) the only flashing I do is at other MG owners. I don't flash at all MGs I see. If I'm cruising up the motorway I won't flash at an oncoming MG' cause I think that a) the other driver won't see me and b) other traffic, like the unmarked police car ahead might suddenly be attracted to my presence. I will however flash at any MG on an ordinary two way road and in about nine out of ten cases I'll get a flash back and probably a wave too.

In my letter tray last week was a letter from a member complaining that no one flashed him anymore. I decided to save his letter and tucked it into my shirt pocket meaning to mention it in my column but that was an error as the washing machine destroyed it. So forgotten name from Wimbledon, don't give up flashing other MG owners, you should get a favourable response.

A few years ago I was sitting at a pub table on a club night and I was being bored by a particular chap who enjoyed a good whinge at just about anything, a few others had also been unimpressed and had edged back to the bar. Suddenly this chap launched off on a new tack and complained that MG owners weren't friendly anymore, he declared that he drove to work each morning and regularly flashed at five or six MGs, never would one flash back. I politely suggested that if he were to drive an MG each morning instead of an old Vauxhaul he might have better luck. He was too surprised to protest that he drove an MG and before he could respond, everyone was laughing and he stopped moaning for the rest of the evening.

MGF owners will flash back but if your experience is like mine you'll see that some MGF drivers will just stare back in astonishment. They haven't all yet appreciated that the MGF is not just another modern open topped sportscar but the latest in a long tradition of excellence. So keep flashing especially in and around Wimbledon.

Carol Crichton doesn't mind being flashed at, indeed when her MGB GT expired in the roadworks approaching Leatherhead for Surrey '96 she would have appreciated much more than a flash. Carol's article appears on page 31 and on behalf of everyone, yes that means you too, I'd like to say sorry, because not one of us recognised Carol's predicament and stopped to help her. My defence was that I didn't see her but then if I had seen her standing by her MG, would I (and you) have realised that Carol needed help? Probably not. In the good old days when MGs were run by we impoverished youngsters they regularly broke down and other MG owners used to carry spares not just for their MGs but for any broken down MGs which they came across on Britain's roads. Just as it was common (and still is) for classic motorcycle owners to stop and offer help to someone standing by a stationary machine at the side of the road, we MG owners used to be just as chivalrous.

But times have changed, most of the old, scruffy and unreliable MG wrecks which struggled from one MOT to another have been restored to a high standard, the supply of parts is cheaper and easier now in real terms than it used to be in the 1960's and most MGs don't get the heavy bashing they used to, instead they are cosseted as a loved pet and never(?) go wrong. But that didn't help Carol and neither did we so let's devise a system whereby Carol, you and I can obtain help if we are unlucky enough to break down in future.

The breakdown organisation provide an excellent service of course but unless there's a telephone nearby or a mobile in the pocket or handbag, we still need immediate assistance, if only just a push to a safer place or a lift to a telephone box or garage. If we need help from other MG owners let's tie a handkerchief or a tissue to an extended radio aerial to signify that we want another member to stop. If we haven't got an aerial, then let's tie the handkerchief or tissue to the door handle or mirror. So, listen carefully all MG owners, if you are driving along happily in your MG (or ordinary boring other car) and you see an MG stopped showing our distress signal, please stop and offer help, a lift, use of your mobile phone, the spare hose in your boot or anything you can to help another member. Then write and let us know and we'll publish your good deed promising anonymity if you prefer.

It's Questionnaire time again, we've been writing to you each month for as long as you've been a member, now it's your turn to write to us and tell us what you think of the club, of the joys and pitfalls of running an MG, of what you want from us for the next few years to help you run your MG better and cheaper and of course your suppliers' marks for the annual Star and Spanner awards. If you are happy with everything, still write and say so, if you are not, then all the more reason, if you don't write we may be fooled into thinking that you don't need us anymore and we might go and do something else quite different. The paper and postage are supplied - no excuses please.

If you follow MG sale prices you might have noticed that MGs and MGB and GTs in particular are currently low priced bargains and personally I'm mystified. About twelve years ago I bought a beautifully maintained black, rubber bumpered roadster which I kept for two years, I then sold it to my brother in law and he used it regularly until two years ago. He repaired the sills, and made sure that the underside was sound and rust free and about fifteen thousand miles ago he replaced the engine with a club recondition and one which a new owner could be very proud of. So what do you think that car would sell for, &163;6,500, £7000, more? You'd be wrong, it was advertised in Enjoying MG at the beginning of January for £5,000 and received not one call, it was then shown to a few people who indicated an interest and offered at £4,500. It sat in my garage waiting for a buyer and taking up space and recently it's been cleaned and polished yet again and looks lovely in the club's showroom at Swavesey with a price tag of £4,500 and with a new tonneau and new hood. It's a very nice, reliable MGB with a detachable cassette/radio and a leather Moto-Lita steering wheel. If anyone's interested please make an appointment to view and test the car, if you have any thoughts on why there appears to be so little interest in what I and many others would perceive to be a bargain, please write in with your views. Comments from MG traders and private sellers are especially welcome.

Currently I am collecting true stories (or at least I am promised that they are true.)
Miles Banister offered a nice one heard (allegedly) from a police officer. A BMW owner went to a party where it was his custom to enjoy a few whiffs of illegal substance. There was a lot of noise and the police duly arrived in response to neighbours' complaints. The partygoer was quite stoned and didn't wish to be interviewed so he chose his moment and slipped out of the house, jumped into his BMW and drove home. The following morning the police called and the chap opened the door.
"Excuse me Sir, were you at a party in ........ last evening?"
"Yes I was Officer."
"Do you own a white BMW?"
"Yes." the chap replied.
"Would you mind showing us your car Sir?"
Puzzled at the request but relieved not to be questioned as to illicit substances he led them to his garage and lifted the door.

His car sat there as he'd left it but with one quite startling difference, it now sported the words POLICE in big letters front and back, two red and white side stripes and a blue light on the top.

I'm not sure I believe this one either but you decide. An animal loving lorry driver accidentally ran over a moggy which darted in front of his truck, he screeched to a stop ( as no doubt did the cat!) and ran back to see it barely breathing and unconscious on the grass verge. He took a crowbar from his cab, brought it down hard on the animal's skull and mercifully dispatched it to cat heaven. Then he spotted a lady running out of her bungalow screaming at him. He apologised and explained that he had run her cat over and that it was no longer suffering. The lady tearfully thanked the driver and collected the corpse for burial. The driver turned away and walked back to his lorry, there against the rear wheel was the body of the cat he'd ran over. It was now obvious, his victim on the verge was a cat enjoying an afternoon nap. He didn't stop to explain. Thanks to lorry driver Tony for that story, drive carefully now....

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