Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Au Revoir, Mademoiselle?

The shell back on the chassis. Andy B on left, me seated.
Readers who have been with me for donkeys years may recall that back in the winter of 2007/8, I was one of 4 members of our 'local group' of the Citro├źn Club of GB who got involved in the complete nut and bolt rebuild* of an ancient, non-running 1961 2CV car. The car was found by the club on one of our camping convoy events which took in Dover Transport Museum and turned out to have been a twinning gift from the newly twinned town of La Chapelle d'Armentieres in Northern France, to their new twin, Birchington in Kent in 1989. It was all sign-written with heraldic crests from each town and the regions. Birchington gave them a red phone box, being suitably British and 'iconic' which has stood ever since, outside the town hall (Mairie).

'Rolling Chassis' in need of lots of work.
The car, in 1989, had been roughly assembled to look the part for photo shoots but below the surface the engine was dead, brakes not connected up and so on, so the car sat on a local garage forecourt for a few years but was then gifted to the museum to look after. Dover Transport Museum, though, is more interested in commercial stuff - old lorries, vans, trains etc, so as they filled up with stuff the car was relegated to a slot out on the grass in the rain, which is where we found it and took pity, so we made them an offer.

We called her Mademoiselle from Armentieres (like the WW1 song) just because the "Parlez Vous" song is the only thing most school boys know about La Chapelle d'Armentieres! We stripped that car down completely over the winter of 2007/8 and rebuilt it. I was writing this blog by then but was writing then as if from the viewpoint of Deefer (then a small pup) so some posts about the car appeared such as

I wrote up the car rebuild with the usual millions of pictures on the National 2CV Club website and was quite proud of the work, but unfortunately the club fell out with their internet service provider and various crashes of the site made them move onto a completely new site, abandoning the old forum archives and blogs and I lost the lot. I tried any number of the former 'webmeisters' but could get no joy, so that good record of our mechanicking is gone, not even on the internet anywhere, because the server was shut down and cleaned up ready for the next customer. Hey ho. This blog is on which seems to be made of sterner stuff.

Well we completed the car and all the time had been in contact with the town of La Chapelle who were coming up to the 20th Anniversary of the twinning and were going to do a massive celebration and carnival to mark the event (a 'do' that French towns seem to love more so than either UK towns or the Irish). They insisted that we bring the car; we did and got treated like celebrities for the weekend with the car on show by the Mairie and then one of 3 2CVs leading the Big Parade. It was a real treat. The car has been back several times on the anniversaries since, once with us but since then with our good friend Andy B, who was really the 'project manager' on the build.

Soon after the 2009 trip, 2 of the gang-of-four expressed a wish to pull out and use their money on other 2CV projects, so, with the car then worth about £2400, Andy and I chopped in £600 to each of them and from then on we have owned the car between the two of us (and it is now worth about £3100, we think). Well, now having moved to Ireland, I do not get a chance to drive the car or even see it and sit in the seats, so I have been wondering whether Andy might feel like 'buying' me out too - we are both still splitting the cost of housing it in the dry lock-up, insurance, MOT and repairs (it is exempt from tax). It is only actually about £100 a year total each. We have now done a deal where I stop paying my share and just slowly fade from view over how ever long it takes a rough ton a year to burn up my half of the value. It could be the longest 'au revoir' in history. I will enjoy, meantime, knowing "that there's a corner of a foreign 2CV that is for (almost) ever (mine)" (apologies to Rupert Brooke)

Meanwhile, we bloggers, like any other internet users are host to the usual motley crew of scammers and hackers, spammers and the like. Many of these arrive as fake attempts to 'comment' on your blog posts and most of us have the comment function set to make sure we get to see the comments before they go up onto the site. is very good at protecting you and parks them if various conditions are met and, in particular in my case, if they come from that famous spammer, (Mr) Anonymous. I have been amused recently by a pattern forming among these as if they may have all read the same guide on how to pull the wool over the eyes of the blogger - compliment him or her on the blog but be very general and non specific about content (do not mention the subject matter of the post!) and then suggest that he/she come and look at yours which is on this link here, guv. What could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately two other factors they have in common are very bad English (generally looking like badly translated English) and then bizarre names on the links - sites selling medical gear, sites offering to improve your sales on and even sites selling labrador puppies!

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and finally

"Advanced level course, you get to study joining emergency treatment, fitting utilization of Automated External Defibrillator (AED) when heart failure strikes at the ictimized individual and considerably more.But you can’t be so sure that there will be no such incident happen in your life. The AED pads that are applied to the victim's chest, while CPR is in progress, can also assess and determine the victim's heart (cardiac) rhythm"

* Not strictly true - we swapped in a complete spare engine and gearbox rather than strip that right down. 425 cc of silky smooth oozing power!

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