The Vintage Triumph Register 2016 Convention, Friday 7 October 2016.
Guest speaker: Richard Langworth
Location: Tanglewood Resort, 290 Tanglewood Blvd., Pottsboro, Texas 75076 (90 minutes north of Dallas).
Synopsis: Reflections on fifty years of messing about with Triumphs: “I’d never say this if I were not among friends, but Ferraris bore me. Just unaffordable excellence. My fun derives from funky British cars.”
Speaker: Richard Langworth has been an automotive writer since 1969, when he sent a freelance article to Automobile Quarterly, on the strength of which he joined AQ as associate and later senior editor. In 1975 he left to freelance, and has since written or co-authored more than fifty books and 2000 articles on automotive history. Richard and Barbara Langworth have owned ten Triumphs from a 1938 Dolomite to an assortment of Mayflowers, Renowns, TR3s, and TR4s. In 1975, he and some friends met in a Detroit bar and founded the Vintage Triumph Register, thinking the time had come for an club devoted to every car Triumph built. In 1979, Richard teamed with Graham Robson to write their book, Triumph Cars: The Complete History, from Tri-Car to Acclaim. The book was in print thirty years and they are now seeking to republish.
“I started with a TR3—a new 3A bought in 1962 for a king’s ransom: $2365, most of it a loan from my dad. It was red on red, a rare combination. I stupidly didn’t specify the $35 optional Michelin tires, and the stock Dunlop Gold Seals wore out in 7000 miles. It was hit in the rear and after that was stolen. (You know how easy it is to hot-wire a TR3?)”
The 2016 Hillsdale College cruise of southwest Alaska aboard Crystal Serenity (27 July-3 August) provided an impressive visit to a spectacular state. Accompanying the fine dining and entertainment was a crew which could not have done more. Crystal Cruises seems to own all the highest ratings in the business, and it’s easy to see why. There’s no separate bar bill, and they’ll deliver up to two bottles a day to your stateroom. No one could drink this much! Tips are included, nobody duns you for handouts, and you’re not presented with a list of “estimated gratuities” on your last day aboard.
Crystal ships offer more than average public space. We had only 1000 passengers (much less than capacity), aboard an 820 foot, 69,000-ton ship), so it never felt congested. As they used to say at Brooklands racing circuit: “the right crowd and no crowding.” More passengers are usual, however. On 16 August Serenity set sail to Alaska again with 1700 customers on a 28-day cruise from Vancouver to New York via the Northwest Passage. She is the largest ship ever to navigate that course.
Aside from the attentive staff and perfect organization, there was nightly entertainment at four or five different venues. Bar room piano player Perry Grant kept us at the Avenue Saloon 9:30-12:30 every night, as he played, sang and interviewed guests. Perry has a touch: never too bawdy, always fun. He seems to know hundreds of tunes, hardly ever repeats one. For those of “a certain age,” it’s a memorable combination. We understand he has a small army of followers, who sign on wherever he goes. Here’s Perry’s version of “My Way.”
The route began from Vancouver to Juneau, Alaska’s capital. There was a sea voyage the Hubbard Glacier, then to the Alaska towns of Hoonah, Skagway and Ketchikan. We reentered British Columbia via Nanaimo, and ended in Vancouver. Well organized excursions (extra cost) were available, but you could easily pass a day walking around a town, or just relaxing on the ship.
We aren’t cruise folk. Viking’s Danube River cruise, with 180 aboard, is more our style. We confess to hankering for a canal barge for twelve, a big ketch for six, or the Claymore II, supply ship for Pitcairn Island, which takes three days to float six passengers to the storied hideaway of Fletcher Christian and a handful of rebels after the Mutiny on the Bounty. That we enjoyed a “big” cruise speaks volumes of Crystal quality and Hillsdale’s organizing.
The College’s educational program is a great way to while away days at sea. Our speakers were an eclectic mix. Hillsdale President Larry Arnn always has worthwhile things to say to thoughtful people. Worrisome things these days, with so many uncertainties facing America and the world. Victor Davis Hanson spoke about Athens and Sparta, eloquently and well, not without parallels to modern problems. John Steele Gordon, the historian and columnist, spoke about his illuminating book on the Washington Monument and other obelisks.
Screenwriter Michael Walsh said movies don’t really start off to be liberal or conservative. If you want to write one of those, you’re on the wrong track. What matters—despite Hollywood’s reputation as a hotbed of wealthy lefties who can bear any tax burden levied on the rest of us—is the story line: “The Godfather could have been set a million years BC and would still have been a success because of the story line.”
Walsh incidentally wrote a great prequel/sequel to Casablanca called As Time Goes By, which all Casablanca fans should read. The prequel explains why Rick Blaine(who grew up in New York as Itzhak Baline) could not return to his home town. The sequel describes how Elsa, Victor, Louie, Sam and Rick helped to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, “the Butcher of Prague.” So now you know how that happened.
David Goldman was so riveting on the demographics of Islam and the Middle East that I bought his book. Prompted by a Turkish waiter, I also asked him about Turkey, which is worthy of a separate post.
For information on future Hillsdale cruises, click here.
Anent Trump’s alleged proposal for a database of Muslims (which he did not propose, exactly), the Post assures us this was nothing compared to that well-known xenophobe, Winston Churchill:
Churchill went even farther. He ordered the internment of tens of thousands of Jewish refugees in England, labeling them dangerous enemy aliens. … Nationals from Germany and Austria, who were living in England when World War II broke out, had already been assigned to different groupings based on their apparent threat to the UK. Category A were the “high security risks.” All 600 of them were immediately interned.
Those deemed “no-security risk” in Class C, included 55,000 refugees from Nazi oppression. The great majority of them were Jewish. They were left free—at first. But then, in the Spring of 1940, with the fall of France, the fear of a German invasion, and the entry of Italy into the war, there was an outbreak of spy fever in England, a demand that more be done about the thousands of “dangerous aliens” living there. Unwilling to consider which of those foreigners might actually be dangerous, Churchill commanded “Collar them all.”
Churchill had other things on his mind in Spring 1940 than which refugees were dangerous. But let it go. People who write such things have no concept of what it was like to live in 1940 Britain, under the threat of imminent extinction.
The “rounding up” of 70,000 German, Czech and Austrian aliens in Britain was done regardless of religion. No doubt a lot were Jews—they had the best reason to be running from the Greater German Reich.
According to Norman Rose in Churchill: The Unruly Giant, “collar the lot,” or “collar them all” was an expression meant to protect alien refugees from “outraged pubic opinion.” It did not refer to preventing spying or acts of sabotage. That we can believe. During World War I, Londoners kicked dachshunds in the streets because they were a German breed. But I can’t find either expression in anything Churchill said or wrote.
We often distort these quotes. I have just gone round with a reader of my piece on François Hollande who insists—re bombing ISIS—that we should mimic Churchill, who wanted to “make the rubble dance” in Nazi Germany. But what Churchill said referred not to bombing Germany but to London’s bravery in the Blitz. He said that after awhile, the only thing the Germans could do to make things worse in London was “make the rubble jump.” Which is quite different.
Hillsdale College’s Winston S. Churchill, Document Volume 15 shows that Churchill soon reconsidered his attitude toward interned aliens. In 1940, he favored expelling them, but a year later he had reconsidered. He said it would be more humane to conscript some into public service, perhaps as “a Foreign Legion.” You can look it up: page 391.
What Churchill Concluded
Churchill was in the vanguard of those urging that wartime restrictions on liberty be lifted as soon as possible. In 1943 he ordered the release of the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, who had been interned in 1940:
The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him judgement by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian Governments, whether Nazi or Communist….Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilisation. —Churchill by Himself, 102
Churchill, as William Manchester wrote, “always had second and third thoughts, and they usually improved as he went along. It was part of this pattern of response to any political issue that while his early reactions were often emotional, and even unworthy of him, they were usually succeeded by reason and generosity.”
It isn’t worth remonstrating with the Huffington Post, which is only looking for another way to skewer Mr. Trump—who says so many skewerable things that it’s hardly necessary to make any up.
It does suggest another chapter for my next book: Churchill Urban Myths: Lies, Fables, Tall Tales, Distortions, and Things that Go Bump in the Night.