9 November 2014

Good morning – I hope it’s fine wherever you are. We’ve finally shaken off the jet lag and, alas, the warm tranquility of the California sunshine is rapidly becoming just another fading memory. It’s certainly been “tranquil” here but not quite perhaps so warm. Compared to southern California, it’s been positively parky which has necessitated the deployment of the central heating as well as two evening fires in the wood-burner in the lounge this week. So far, though, I have managed to resist Ms Playchute’s requests for the re-installation of the electric blanket.

We had fun with Annabelle last Saturday when we took her to her first theatrical performance, a puppet show entitled Arthur’s Dream Boat at The Mill in Banbury. Although it was billed as being suitable for ages 3 to 8, I have to confess it wasn’t the greatest puppet show in the world. The songs were perhaps a bit too long to retain the attention of a three year old but there were some funny bits which she found highly amusing!

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, we had her all day on Monday while Lucy was up in London for a meeting with some big-wigs. Of course, she always runs the show when she comes here but it’s great fun.

I was saddened early in the week to read of the death of Tom Magliozzi who, as most of you will know, was one half of Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers from NPR’s Car Talk. The show has been one of my favourites for many, many years and I feel almost single-handedly responsible for introducing it to a wide range of British listeners.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi

As many of you know, I was first introduced to the programme probably twenty-odd years ago by my younger sister, Susie. I was out west for a Webb School reunion and Susie and I spent some time mooching around with family and friends in southern California. I am thinking it must have been 1994 because, if I remember, I had visited with Mom and Dad in Prescott and we had then driven across to Atascadero where Hope, I believe, was about thirty-seven months pregnant with the infant that became Greg. On that visit Steph & Hope introduced me to the Atascadero Red Light Roundup as well as the first (and only) drive-thru grocery store I’ve ever visited. Steph and Hope were in the process of selling their house in Fallbrook and, at the conclusion of my visit, Steph very kindly drove me down to Fallbrook where I was eventually collected by sister Sallie. Susie flew down from Portland and she and I spent a few days slowly migrating our way up the coast courtesy of a couple of lifts from friends of hers. (This was the occasion when Susie single-handedly stuffed up Sallie’s septic system).

All during our time together Susie kept bleating on and on about a radio program she had started listening to – Car Talk on NPR. She kept telling me how funny these guys were, how the older brother, Tommy, could never remember last week’s puzzler and how their signature sign-off was “Don’t drive like my brother!” “And don’t drive like my brother!” She was convinced I would love it and desperately wanted me to hear the show but every time it was on during our visit together we were busily engaged in something else (or we just plain forgot). So, I flew back to the UK none the wiser but I do remember wondering what all the fuss was about. When I got home I thought nothing more about it.

Until a month or so later when a parcel arrived from the Pacific Northwest. Inside were four or five audio cassette tapes, each of which contained one Car Talk show. Susie had carefully recorded them including turning the tape over during the half time break to catch the second (and third) half of the show. Within about three minutes of listening to the first tape I was hooked. Who cares about car advice and diagnostics, these guys were very, very funny, and I began listening to the shows on my daily commute to work.

At that time, Car Talk was not available in the UK and so I relied on Susie to keep me supplied. Every month or so a new parcel would arrive with the latest recordings. I was a bit concerned that she was breaking some sort of FCC regulation – surely recording something from the radio and sending it overseas must be some sort of federal crime! But, I wasn’t about to ask her to stop.

After listening to a few episodes on my drive to work, I began sharing the tapes amongst my friends and colleagues. They also came to enjoy the show and there was occasionally some disagreement as to who should be first to receive the next batch of tapes.

Regular as clockwork, the tapes would arrive.

Most of the time.

Occasionally, there would be long hiatuses between parcels. Oddly, enough, these interruptions in service generally coincided with Susie’s dating a new boyfriend and reordering her priorities somewhat. Eventually, though, the deliveries would resume and I could continue to develop my automotive knowledge and be thoroughly entertained along the way.

Eventually, of course, the programme became available on the net and now I download the podcast of the week’s show anytime I want. The boys stopped broadcasting new stuff at the end of 2012 but they still put out a recycled show once a week which is still every bit as entertaining. Particularly when, like me, you can’t remember last week’s puzzler.

Thanks for all the laughs and don’t drive like my brother.

For those of you who are not on Pam’s Weekly Whiner mailing list, you might enjoy Steven White’s video of the microburst at Lake George. This gives you a much better idea of the extent of the damage caused by the storm in August. As Pam said in her note – count the number of times Sandy says, “Wow!”

And finally, a couple of lousy photos from my phone of the rainbow we trudged through at Edgecote while walking Molly the other day. A bit damp but highly enjoyable at the same time.


Love to you all,



One thought on “9 November 2014”

  1. Dear Sirs,
    I wanted to point out an error in this very fine publication. Last week the Weakly reported, “This was the occasion when Susie single-handedly stuffed up Sallie’s septic system.” For the record, it was the occasion when Greg single-handedly stuffed up Sallie’s septic system.
    It was a pretty fun trip up until the time that Greg started blaming the need for a plumber on Susie.
    Also – you forgot to add the bit about when Susie ran out of blank tapes, car talk was then recorded on top of a previously recorded music tape so as Click and Clack were talking and laughing you could hear John Denver singing “Rocky Mountain High” in the background.
    Thanks for your wonderful publication. Couldn’t live without it.

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