An archive tidy up brings on nostalgia

| 7 Oct 2011

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.