Thursday, 13 February 2020


From Mr. Ishmael's drafts - thought you might like this fragment -a review of his most  recent car  - Mrs. Ishmael

I love cars, always have, there is just something seeming-miraculous to me about how they work, so very many components, such precision and co-ordination - fuel, ignition, battery, high tension coil, injectors or carburettors, plugs, valves, cylinders, con-rods, bearings, a crankshaft,  belts, chains, tappets, rockers, gaskets, pumps and pipes all timed and aligned, exploding and crashing together thousands of times a minute, and that's just the engine.  There is also a gearbox, a prop shaft, at least one differential, drive shafts, hubs, brakes, wheels and tyres, hydraulics, springs, shock absorbers, lights, heaters, wipers, instruments, seats, doors and windows. Every time I start-up  a car I think This is fucking voodoo, this is. So enchanted have I always been by this magical,  marshalled inferno that the idea of  in-car entertainment seems ridiculous, there's nothing on the radio that equals driving a car.

The only thing I ever listen to in the car is Radio Three's Choral Evensong - psalms and anthems, prayers, lessons and  mad organ fugues, all strung-together by a fruity vicar,  sing-songing calls and responses, a choir and thundering organ performing the psalms  of King David, surely the Father of the Blues.  That only lasts for about forty-five minutes, once a week, should I happen to be in the car - never bother with it at home, somehow.  The rest of my driving time is leavened by my sheer wonder that this bag of bits glides along quietly, mile after mile after mile.

I was once into the Zen Purity of the motorcycle but young and heedless of Life's fleeting preciousness  I was horrifically injured, well dunno about horrific, I broke my neck and my face, bad enough, I suppose, more than  a tumble.  I often think I survived only in order to reproach myself. 
It's been cars, anyway, since then.

As well as my Citroen F111 rocket car we have a Honda CRV, iVTEC Automatic and it is brilliant, never goes wrong, goes like stink if you want to, big enough and comfortable; comfortable  but not luxurious, I started, therefore, to look at Bentleys and found that you can buy a five year old, 4 litre Flying Spur for less than twenty grand, fifteen if you're canny. Trouble is, your whoreson  Bentley is unreliable, parts are expensive and fuel economy poor. Although I've owned and enjoyed them I think there's something vulgar about Jags and Audis and BMWs,  vulgar and aggressive, especially the Audis. I am sure they are very good, I just don't like the look of them

I couldn't, however,  find a bad 
journalists' or owners' review of  the Mercedes S class; everybody loves them, ordinary people and filth - like gangsters, royals  and politicians, so I started looking for one. 
I have long known the wisdom of buying used prestige cars, those models subject to the fastest depreciation. OK you might use a bit more fuel but the overall savings are enormous, not to mention the high spec, the performance, safety and comfort,  all yours, relatively speaking, for a song.

 I looked all over the UK and eventually found one in Leicester, about 650 miles from me. 
He seemed like a nice, genuine guy and so I had a full RAC inspection done of everything, even had the oil analysed and it was ticks in all boxes.  
I sent him the money in advance, certain he wasn't a scammer and when we arrived I found he was a  Sikh.  I had forgotten how utterly gracious Sikhs could be but he was Grace made Man, polite, hospitable and helpful. What was most noticeable was that he didn't do Ban-tah, none of the  snide, insulting smartassery so common among British men. I felt really humbled and remembered my old friend,  Felix Hodcroft, decades ago, saying to me that he was disappointed in his gender, his fellow man;   I mocked him then but have come to understand what he meant and meeting Mr Singh and his family I was disappointed in my own race,  largely gobby and stupid, cock-wavimg savages.

The car was everything he had said, like this one. 

Dunno where to start describing it; everybody says it's simply the best car in the world and it sure seems like that to me. My first journey in it was following mrs ishmael from Leicester back to our hotel in Manchester, along urban motorways  at rush hour in a downpour, not knowing what the switches did or where they were, it was OK though.  There is a mass of technology on it which |I will probably never use, just driving it as a normal Vee-six turbo is all I want to do. From Manchester to Glasgow at seventy miles an hour the rev counter showed 1,300, the trip analysis 55mpg.. It has a range of over 700 miles between fills, something and nothing I suppose except that stopping for rest is one thing stopping to fill up always seems to rob me of momentum - those fucking motorway garages are so dispiriting,they leech the life out of one, every square centimetre monetised; signposts on Ruin's highway, those  places.  The most we've done in the Mecedes non-stop  is 500 miles  emerging as fresh as daisies; two hundred miles in the Honda and I'm creased, just road noise and body roll and bumps on Tribesman Scotland's third world roads. It's a Humvee you need to negotiate  KrankieVille. Independence? Stupid fucking bastards couldn't run a raffle, never mind a country; BoJo should call a UK-wide referendum on Scotland remaining in the Union, they'd shit their kilts in a second.


Bungalow Bill said...

Thanks Mrs I. I know nothing of cars but, of course, that doesn't matter here. It's about the relish he takes in the quality of the thing and the quality then of his writing about it.

Mrs ishmael said...

Hi, Mr bungalow,
He was a marvellous wordsmith, with a strong sense of rhythm and scansion. I think he could write compellingly about anything. I was so glad he found the perfect car before he had to go away. He had three big road trips in it: one to bring it back from Leicester,our autumn Cathedral trip, and our journey
to the Royal Brompton Hospital when he was already very ill. It sits outside the house now: Nevermore, quoth the Raven.

Bungalow Bill said...

I loved his delight in cathedrals and in those who made them, and the joy he had from proper church music, Mrs I. I hope, in particular, that you both took comfort from your trip last autumn.

Mike said...

Thank you Mrs I. He certainly liked his tools and his cars. Always a pleasure to hear about either.

mongoose said...

I don't think that I could drive an S-class at only 70 all that way. In fact, I don't think that I couldn't - I know I couldn't.

One mad day last year, my hire car people let me down and inexplicably I was upgraded to that little SLC thing. (NB I am green-ish, and an engineer, and I like small cars. I routinely hire Fiat 500s. 35 quid for the day last time.) I only had a hundred and fifty miles to do all day, barely leaving the county, got as far as Swindon, but goodness me it was a beautiful car. Mercedes know their business. At least, they used to know it until Greta decided that all this beauty is eco-wicked.

Oldrightie said...

Very much my take on the joy of motoring and the freedom cars, for so long, have given all of us. Ruined as ever by the political classes with their exorbitant taxes and stealing from motorists whilst spending little of the billions filched to give us decent roads. great to have these precious words still alive, Mrs. Ishmael. Thank you.

mrs ishmael said...

Hi, Ishmaelites,
I'm glad you liked the piece. It looks as though Mrs. Woman on a Raft hasn't been able to access the Blog, so, unless and until she is able to do so, I'll publish the occasional piece from mr ishmael's Drafts, Archives and other writings, if you would like me to.
All the best to you all, especially you petrol-heads.

SG said...

Thank You Mrs I. Your ‘occasional’ publications are much appreciated! My first car was a Mercedes 190E. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is still in service somewhere in the world... I am sure Mrs WoaR would be of great assistance but you seem to be doing extremely well under your own steam!!

Mrs ishmael said...

Thank you, Mr sg,
I lack the political understanding that is rather vital in a satirical political blog, and which Mrs raft could supply, but I'll do my best with the material at hand.

mongoose said...

Yes, pls do, Mrs Ishmael. No words from Himself should be wasted.

Your first car was a Merc, Mr SG?! Fuck me, Sir, my first car was a Simca 1100. Very much like this:

Mike said...

Mr SG 30 years ago I used to drive a 190E. Very solid car, smooth - even though I remember it only had 4 cylinders, comfortable in a Germanic way with big leather seats, and great cruising at 100 on motorways. I wouldn't mind one now.

SG said...

Well Mr Mongoose, I was rather late into the driving game. If I’d gone in at 17 I would probably have been in something along the lines of your Simca! Yes Mr Mike a great grand tourer but with its rear wheel drive, it was appalling in snow and ice - though I dare say our German friends would have used winter tyres and / or snow chains.

Anonymous said...

I don't have time to go through all the comments so I don't know if people know about this:

SG said...

Not sure I wanna click on that Mr Anonymous - better provenance needed...

Doug Shoulders said...

My first car was a Cortina mark 5 Ghia with a smoked glass sunroof and manual choke. Possibly a CD player too, although I can’t remember.
The sunroof was aftermarket installed by the previous owner and would leak rain onto the driver’s seat.
I always pined after the 190 believing it was just the type of car I should be driving at 18 rather than the hot hatches of my contemporaries.
The 190 being the entry level to the Mercedes Benz “marque.” they call it for grandeur machines.
I now have a C180 but it was a long time coming. Smooth as butter.

The link is a goodun’ mr SG…lose the last backslash. The dialogue is minus the pictures but that is not such a bad thing as Mr Ishmael did have a tendency to upload the most awful of the internet.
I still have flashbacks to the flashing of Greer’s unnecessarily overgrown wotsit…

Anonymous said...

What Mr SG said - doesn't look right.

There's plenty of archived material here on the Ishmael blog, and a bunch of raw posts from order-order days remains on aplumberslogic, which is an old blogspot (and should show as safe in a google search, if your AV software does that for you.)

Work on the Best Of anthology procedes steadily. As I understand it, Mrs Ishmael plans to keep this blog ticking over so when, in time, the book is ready, watch this space.



SG said...

Thanks Mr Shoulders and Mr V./ - I shall have a look!