Anoraktic Relapse

1959 Mk 2 Zodiac: We dared to dream and dream we did. 

I really cannot help this but I do feel I left out a very important portion of my blog yesterday. There were no pictures of the Mk 2 Zodiac. My cousin Jeff had a mark 2 Automatic. Zodiac Executive in a maroon colour called “imperial red”. Oh yes – the Empire had not struck back in those days. The mark 2 Ford Consul and Zephyr range were distinguished by having a three speed gearbox when everyone else was moving to four. They also retained the vacuum operated windscreen wipers. These devices used the inlet manifold vacuum to “suck” the wiper first one way, then the other. This was great when the engine was cruising, but with a wide throttle position, the vacuum “inlet suck” was drawn into the engine leaving the wipers stranded like a Tea clipper in the Doldrums. Going downhill with the throttle closed would have the wipers oscillating like a Euro politico in a money crisis.

And before I do actually hang up my anorak, I do feel we ought to mention the Vauxhall Cresta PA.. This car was the vehicle as icon, an object of worship. It had more to do with possession and style than it did with transport. The guys who developed these cars understood the lure of bling long before the term existed. This was the high point of common taste becoming classic beauty – a bit like the American film musical.

A 1958 Cresta: Nothing exceeds like excess. 

The cars we drive hold up a mirror to the way we are. A glance at a 2010 car park in the UK would have shown nothing but grey and silver. I am beginning to note a slight move back to fun colours of red and yellow. If the two tone comes back it’ll be time to invest my friends. If I were world dictator I would be seeding the economies with two tone finned cars. In two years we’d be dancing in the aisles.  I would go on about the Vauxhall Victor but if you really care you can check out “Fashion Footwear” in my collection “I Threw A Stone”

If any of you guys out there are struggling with the term Anorak, here is a link. In a minute I’m going to take it off and go out wandering as a sensitive poet. I won’t even look at a car I promise. I’ll probably keep a piece of oily rag to sniff if things get tough.




My Name Is Oscar – I’m An Anorak.

A matchbox toy Zephyr 6 – as close as I’ve ever got to a Zodiac

Standard Vanguard

Years ago in the 1950’s folks were not very cool. Simple pleasures such as car spotting were enough to entertain a young poet such as me. In his “Prelude” Wordsworth talks about his young life with beauty and fear. As an urban Anorak child I would only be able to talk about the 1952 Standard Vanguard and also that day when I spotted an Austin Atlantic. In those days the motor car was still unattainable to most working class people. All the same they represented a dream of the future embodied in sculpture. The Vanguard and the Atlantic influenced my young malleable psyche but eventually fell away as the mass production of vehicles presented ever more objects of beauty.

Then, one day I came home from a day of car spotting to our artisan’s terraced home. In the road outside was a fawn coloured Mk.1 Ford Consul, registration number MCR 992. The year was 1955. My father had got a job that needed a car. I only had one thought which has remained unexpressed all these years. “Why Oh why could it not have been a Zephyr Zodiac?” OK – I knew we were plain folk who never expected to win – but a Consul was so close to a Zodiac that we could have crossed that divide. If we had had a Zodiac I would have had an Oboe Of The British Empire and been made Poet Lorry Park by now. That fawn Consul Mk1 set the limits of my aspirations.

Why could it not have been a Zodiac?

Ford Zodiac MK1. Straight 6 leading straight to the stars.

My 1962 Zephyr in 1973

For years this anguished disappointment has festered in the pocket of my anorak. Imagine then my mixed feelings when Emma Calin called me to say that she had book by Terry Ravenscroft called ” Zephyr Zodiac”.  The book is in fact a skilful look at British social attitudes and history from 1962 to 2012. It plots the history of a 1962 Mk 3 Ford Zephyr Zodiac as it passes through a succession of owners. Changing attitudes to sex, race, celebrity and work are interwoven with a series of short plays dealing with everything from teenage pregnancy, the police, retirement and gangsters. The events are often hilariously surreal, yet at other times touched with a sincere pathos and empathy. As an ex cop I did find myself laughing aloud at Mr Ravenscroft’s evident disdain for certain aspects of police behaviour. I would have to concede that he is spot on in his critique.

For fellow younger anoraks who may not be aware of the Zodiac, this vehicle was the top of the range Ford in the UK from 1950. It had four separate manifestations, the best of which were the Mk 2 and the Mk3. The Mk 4 was an ugly brute and for me was not in the same spirit at all. I began work in a Ford dealership in 1964 – the year they introduced the Mk4. My bread and butter work were the Mk 1,2 and 3 cars. Sadly body corrosion was an issue and I have lost count of the number of welding jobs I have done of the sills and front suspension strut mountings. I would have to point out that beyond the Zodiac was the Executive – some options including gold hub caps and bumpers.

Tail fins to beat the Reds

I have owned one Zephyr in my life – a 1962 Zephyr4 – a poor substitute by comparison. It did have a four speed column change gearbox, bench seats and fins. And fins is what the whole concept was about. Was it a coincidence that it was in 1965 that development of the F15 fighter plane began. Just as Ford scrapped the Zodiacs, McDonnell Douglas hit on the design to defeat Communism and the Russian Mig jets. Just check out the photos. It is obvious to me that the Ford Zodiac led directly to the triumph of the West  by inspiring the twin fin back end.

F15 inspiration

And finally – guess what has been on my desk these last 25 plus years. The only 6 cylinder Zephyr I have ever owned. It used to belong to my son but he had no respect for it and I had to repossess it. Now that is sad is it not!

If you are any sort of petrol head or just have a memory of the last fifty years, check out Zephyr Zodiac by Terry Ravenscroft.

Being some kind of poet I cannot leave this subject without a short poem about cars with fins. It is called Independent front suspension strut.

Beatle songs and whitewall Nation

with column change sophistication,

We had arrived in Telstar space,

where there was no welded place

beyond the strut type front suspension..

Yes – the last finned cars were the end of history. Post modernism and sociology began with the Mk4 Zephyr.  I do know that the above is a exceptionally naff poem, but when you are hoping to be the poet Lorry Park you just have to churn the stuff out.

Music For The Eyes

see that blue perfume

A few years ago I wrote a poem entitled “Bluebells”. I tried to address the central problem of  bluebell type phenomena – namely that what you see is not what you get. If you try to see the detail, the picture runs away from you. If you try to take a photo, you capture the picture but not the vision. I believe that moments of a particular point in time and space require both the reality and the human mind to draw the whole picture. I think this is why we have poets and I am sure this is why we still have painters. These days you could take a photo of a bluebell wood and photo-shop it with all manner of effects. At the end of it you could know everything about frequency curves and contrast balance. And it would not satisfy.

I had gone to the wood with granddaughter. In the morning it had rained but at that moment the sun was warming the air into a perfumed blue mist. It was that vision that gave rise to the poem. It is now a few years later that I have had the chance to possess a picture not only of a bluebell wood, but of my emotions at that time. The artist is  Sara Barnes and you can check out her art here.

One of the most wonderful things to have happened in my lifetime is that technology has handed the open mike, not only to the cognoscenti already in the club, but also to the guys pressing their faces to the window outside. The establishment bouncers can but look punchy in their one size too small jackets as the mob get their moment. I have felt for many years that straight forward representational  ART has had too little attention. Sara Barnes paints the scene and what she feels about it. The result is emotional and delicious.

Here is my little poem about Bluebells:

Too much too thrilling
This gasp of blue
That as a child I picked
And tried to hold in vases.

Now my child and I
Come to the bluebell wood
In the perfume of their afternoon,
In the drifting aching aria
Of their final vanity.

The cool life larva flows
From all that has known
The rhythm of this Earth –
This soul of blueness.

I think to snatch a prisoner
But this beauty does not rise from blooms
Nor from any labelled plan.
It teases singing through the trees
Melting from the conscious mind
Like fabric from a flame.

My child goes now to gather them –
I acquiesce now knowing that
Our growth, this mortal flower
Is rooted in our winters past

Our sorrow, our bluebells.

Sara holds exhibitions, sells paintings and will accept commissions. She has produced a painting for me which is as transcendent as the moment when I stood at the edge of a blue poem. It will be a treasure.

Freezing The Frame

Sometimes you just have to stop. We try to answer more questions in life than we ask. Essentially we try to answer other people’s questions:  questions posed by the bosses and the faceless systems. The hoop-meisters keep us jumping. The time servers steal our time and keep us servile. The image makers hold us up against their images. What survives of us, if we did but know it, is the poetry of ourselves. The true light of life is lost in the glare of packaging, marketing and business. To the dirt poor survivalist, the focus is the next meal or gulp of water. Such a one is the greatest poet. He knows the taste of water. The business man knows only the price per litre and how he can max out his margin.

Amongst all this undergrowth lies the hidden boulder of beauty. It is simply there. Property rights may restrict access, but there is beauty in the smallest of things and moments. I am working on a little project at the moment. It is a collection of short poems that attempt to freeze the frame and give some time to reflect on what we are thinking or simply what we are. Such poems need have no references or belong to any school. Today, I received a poem from the American poet Jo Von Bargen. She certainly has no identifiable posture or influence. She can be transcendently folksy or richly austere. Her poems can be death by a thousand cuts or joy with a single lunge. You always know that the boulder, honey or rapier is there and that it will get you. Here is one of her poems:


your hand hesitantly tries
the keyboard,
eyes reading impossible signs
on the score so that
every chord is suspended
like a voice grieving

all around you goes tender
at seeing you stop, helpless,
ignorant of the language
most your own

beyond, window ajar,
a breeze murmurs back

hummingbirds hover,
framed in blue sky,then vanish.
a branch rustles in the sun

nothing around us finds words,
and your youthful unknowing
is mine, is ours


I love that poem. It freezes the frame with the warmth of humanity. So far I have lined up four established poets to contribute to this collection. There are many poets out there and if you feel you could be in it or know someone who might like to be, please let me know. I will be editing the final selection. I am looking for short “beautiful” poems in the sense that they stop time at those moments when we have a transcendence that no one could ever sell you or tell you that your model of beauty has just been outdated by the latest design.

There is no format or fashion to the poems. My own publishers, – Gallo-Romano have agreed to produce the book. All I can say is that it will not cost contributors any money. Anyone expecting to make money as a poet is not one. The loot will be shared. If my own profit on poetry is a guide I think a cola and a pack of straws is about right.

one whole plantimal

I’ve been in haiku mode again. It is about the scene in this photo.

Sun on rose open
to bees transferring life code.
A buzz blooms wholeness.