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National Alfa Day - Sunday 11th August 2013

Cuori di Oak

On Sunday 11th August our jolly tars turned out at Chatham Dockyard to marshal the squadrones of Alfa Owners at the National Day. Jeff had provided helpers with one size fits all fluorescent waistcoats which, on the larger of our hearties, resembled a sort of high visibility restraint device of the sort which might be used at Her Majesty’s pleasure on the Isle of Wight. These little numbers were intended to make us visible so that other Alfa owners could approach for precise and accurate parking advice; for example … “go down there until you see a submarine then turn right”.

Clive and Doug were on the first watch but by eight bells they had only parked a handful of cars. It was a good start though because by chance, or by extremely clever thinking on Clive’s part, the parking formation in the “Classic” display had started upwind into a fresh Sou’Westerly Beaufort 4 which swept across the dusty car park and away from the cars. In this “Classic” park the old sailors arranged their splendid machines close to a Lipscombe coffee caravan and a mobile Mrs. Miggin’s pieshop called Higgledy something. At Chatham it was the boat tailers who were in their element.

For cheer up m’ lads it truly was! Il giornalista was found singing to himself as he waved cars to all points East and West…. and the song goes..

When Alfred, our King, drove the Dane from this land,
e planted an oak with his own royal hand;
nd he pray'd for Heaven's blessing to hallow the tree,

As sceptre for England, the queen of the sea. (All together now!!!!)
Hearts of oak are our ships,
Hearts of oak are our men,
We always are ready, steady boys, steady,
To charge and to conquer again and again.

Now you may wonder why I recant the 1809 version of this song when the 1759 version is traditional! Well one of the earlier cars parked in the display was a little black Alfasud. It was a really honest motor and, within a second of it assuming a stationary pose, its Owner and young helper got out and attacked it with all manner of microfiber cloths and sprays. It is my memory of that scene which brought Hearts of Oak to mind and, in particular verse 3 of said 1809 version, which goes like this…

But the worms of corruption had eaten their way through its bark;
till a Wardle has swept them away,
He has sworn, no such reptiles our tree shall infest,
And our patriots soon shall extirpate the nest.

(A wardle is 19th century slang for ship of the line…. But … altogether now .. chorus)

The worms of corruptive rust have eaten away all but a very few Alfasuds and they have been cast aside by bigger more splendid, more airbagged, more cupholdered, seriously hotter hatchbacks but still that little car retains the status of being the first of a new motoring generation. Dedicated rust eradicators work tirelessly to keep the remaining few on the road … Hearts of Oak I say to the Sudmen!

Anyway, enough said, when the Alfasud owner had finished his epic cleaning scheme he promptly put a notice in the window saying the car was “For Sale” and disappeared. Clive had parked it in the wrong place! It should have been sent off down the road past the submarine, past the Cavalier, past the ice cream, the micro brewery and the helicopter to the quiet cosy corner to cry with the other unloved Alfas! What a shame!

Juilliette Echo Foxtrot Foxtrot had a walkie-talkie! For those of you unfamiliar with such devices these are serious credibility and self-importance boosters! They issue controlled squelches and atmospheric hisses which noises give the holder an warm feeling of being an Old Bill, or whatever they are called nowadays, which accompanies all the very serious Alpha Bravos and Tango Deltas that issue from the inside of the high visibility vest. Jeff coped with this responsibility superbly and showed remarkable restraint in not once calling for back up or even vectoring in the Medway Constabulary to remove non-Alfas from the display areas.

Doug got involved with the pie shop but unfortunately had to leave early on account of his sick Doug, sorry, dog! However, before leaving and while noshing, he spied some chaps subjecting his boat tail to close scrutiny. He asked them what they thought of it and they seemed quite positive but, as the conversation progressed, one asked when he was going to restore it? It has been restored retorted our dear leader but the fellow then wanted to know when he was "going to put some paint on it". Doug told him it had recently been re-sprayed with the calmness and serenity of a man who has enjoyed his pie more than his immediate company!

On account of the dog, which we all hope is ok, Doug had to leave early and on the road West found himself presented with an opportunity to provoke a Maserati to show its paces. All was well until our dear leader, obviously still irked by the car park tyre kickers, changed up from 4th at about 80 and managed to select 3rd. Lovely though the early 105 series engines are they do not have sufficient heart, or oak for that matter, to sustain 10,000rpm. Luckily Doug didn't let the clutch out fully so the motor was saved from imminent tempest by a whisker! The Maser was nowhere to be seen by this time!

So m’hearties.. forte!

Now long live the Briton, who dar'd to revive
The spirit which Britons scarce felt was alive;
His name shall be carv'd, while of freedom we sing,
On the oak that was planted by Alfred our King. (il coro… in spades!)

Hearts of oak are our cars,
Hearts of oak are our men,
We always are ready, steady boys, steady,
To let out the clutch and go quickly again.

A big hearty thanks to all the hearty oaks who turned out and marshalled. It was a great day out!

Il Giornalista

John Third



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