An archive tidy up brings on nostalgia

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Author: Martin BuckleyPublished:

I have a lot of black crows hovering just out of vision, but always there in the background. Those worrying, boring tasks that you know you should be doing and that are always there to peck at you when you are doing something you enjoy. Inevitably, I feel I should be doing something more worthy, more productive.

It’s rather a corrosive thing really and the silly part is when you do finally tackle these long put-off tasks they turn out to be sort of enjoyable. One very minor one for me was getting all my filing sorted; decades of pictures and old road tests plus my archive of the bits and bobs I've had printed in newspapers – obits and the like.

Armed with a supply of A4 display folders, I finally resolved to tackle the three green filing cabinets that have slowly become jammed with all this material. It’s been hugely therapeutic and curiously addictive getting them sorted under marques, then the minor thrill of breaking out the Dyno tape thing (never owned one before) and labelling each one up.

I had a huge amount of road tests I saved from the skip years ago – ’50s, ’60s and ’70s stuff, mostly Autocar and Motor. Very useful archive for facts and figures. Lancia and Fiat are hugely over-represented, but there's lots on Alfa, BMC, BMW,  a bit of everything really.

There's also a nice Bristol file and good ones on people such as Lady Docker and Max Hoffman. Japanese and American cars are grouped generically.

I bought four A3 folders as scrapbooks for my obits (not just ones I'd written, but for all the people I'm interested in such as Tony Wilson and a psychopath ’60s Soho detective who used to fit people up) plus interviews and general cuttings; something to look at when I'm old.

And I unearthed plenty of seemingly randomly selected club magazines, too, including one from the Bitter Owners’ Club with an article whining about the fact that I'd been rude about one of the cars in a story.

I was amazed by what I had and I think I started enjoying things too much, to the point where that crow of guilt tapped me on the shoulder and said 'this is a displacement activity, you should be writing a feature'. Next job: organising my brochures.

Comments

Chris Martin

Martin, you have my sympathy.

I am a past master at putting things off, and too, will usually get easily distracted when I am supposed to be tidying up the mess I laughingly refer to as my library.

Yep, done the display folder thing too, for scraps, cuttings and odd pages of interest, but strangely no real urge to collect obituaries. I do however search out biographies and histories of people if there is some peculiar area of interest and I am currently reading Villains Paradise - A History Of Britain's Underworld - by Donald Thomas so may yet come across that bent copper you refer to.

I have no explanation for your 'thrill' at fiddling with a Dymo label maker though, but hey, I have heard of stranger behaviour (and seen some of the films). The usual desk accessories like pens, staplers and blank cds are piled in a dusty corner to my right but bring on no emotions when they are employed in the manner intended by their respective manufacturers.

Some of the books are worthless creased copies of something found at the car boot sale, but some are proudly displayed as the expensive luxury items they are. Some become favourites and are regularly promoted to pride of place on the coffee table in the lounge, the latest fave being that big purple Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars volume by Gautam Sen, and hopefully this elite group will be joined by your tome on Facel Vegas by Xmas (if I can persuade the Mrs that 250 smackers is not too extreme), even though my French is good enough to have read the Daninos book more than once.

Having said that, an old brochure for the Arkley SS, or my programme for the 1968 British Grand Prix get just as much thumb action.

Most of this stuff is on shelves, and in folders but I am leaning towards blagging a proper filing cabinet from the dump, drawers neatly filed alphabetically would be a justified addition to the furniture and detritus surrounding me as I type. Strangely too, I have some odd club magazines that I felt the urge to keep, although having no relevance to my car related exploits such as Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club, MG Safety Fast, 750 Motor Club, but you beat me on the Bitter mag'.

Brochures too, mostly British and American, but again some odd ones, and some I don't even remember why they are here. Comes in useful though, my sister-in-law mentioned only last week she has an urge to replace the family sedan with a big old redneck Ford F100 pickup and I was able to - Hey Presto - within less than a minute, present her with an original 1979 brochure for the very beastie. Little things like that can mean so much to some........but the fact that it took me less than a minute probably means my boxes of junk are not as disorganised as I thought.

Which is where I came in.

The big worry though is your black crows analogy, scary that, it made me think of Van Gogh and bad news. I prefer to think of those little guilt reminders as nothing more than a nuisance puppy begging for attention. Could your crow fetish really be a cry for help? Look after yourself mate! I'm off to sort the clutter on the bench in the garage this afternoon............ Chris M.

 

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