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I feel that I must do all I can to keep alive the motorcycling legacy of Edgar, my dear, late Grandfather, whilst maintaining the high educational standards set for me by my Mama. I abhor naughtiness and immorality.

Harry Ramsden's saved!

I was so pleased to see that one of the original homes of English fish-and-chips has been saved - purchased from some typically stupid investors by the owners of The Wetherby Whaler.

I must say that the last time I called in to Harry's in Guiseley, I was less than impressed.  It bore all the hallmarks of a ghastly franchise, with service and food to match.  Where were all the lovely little Yorkshire lasses who used to greet customers with something unintelligible to those used to speaking English?  Gone were those sweet little Yorkshire waitress outfits, with a ladder in the stockings and a hint of bosom exposed through loss of a blouse button.  It all seemed so genuine, somehow; quaint and wholesome.

I remember Grandfather Edgar taking me there when I was a little girl, after he had competed in the Ilkley Grand National, held on Middleton Moor near Ilkley.  Even though he was very muddy, he was greeted like the hero he was, and somehow extra chips always appeared in his order, wrapped as it was in the News Chronicle.  Marvellous chips too - crispy and cooked just when ordered. And the fish! - luscious flakey cod with no skin, coated in golden yellow crispy batter, and served slick from the proper beef dripping it was cooked in, with a great dollop of bright green mushy peas.

The Grand national was a proper MAN'S race and if you look HERE there is an excellent film of a pre-war event.  Better, I am quite sure that the lady in the foreground is my late Mama's sister - the Hon.  Tamara DuKlart (she was married to a minor South African diplomat) and over her right shoulder is, in the beret, her 'friend': Viola Kaase.  That was quite a scandal of course, as proper ladies did not have friends like that....except in racey circles in London, and never in Ilkley.  Grandfather Edgar had a very funny phrase for them: he called them The Sheep, which I still don't really understand: he said it was because they were frequently to be found with their noses in the front garden.

Miss Tilly and her Orifice

When I was quite a young girl, Grandfather Edgar had the idea to fit a supercharger to a 500cc Blackburne engine he had somehow acquired, and for which he was building a frame to take part in sprint events.  I remember he had purchased a Shorrock unit but wasn't quite sure about ratios and mixtures and so on.  "I need help to get a blow job, Camilla," he would say, laughing away in that deep rumble of his.  I didn't then know how rude that was - not the thing to say to a young girl, but that was Grandad!

Of course, he knew great motorcycle tuners like George Brown and Noel Pope but was anxious to take his own route.  He gained an appointment to see Professor G F Mucklow, the Head of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, and who had carried out a lot of research into supercharged single-cylinder engines. I was very excited when Grandad said he would take me along - I think he had an idea that it would inspire me to go to University.  Grandad explained what he was trying to do, and Professor Mucklow listened carefully before smiling and saying, "You should really be talking to my former assistant, Doctor Shilling.  She knows all about superchargers and fuelling - and motorcycles!"  Grandad wasn't often stopped in his tracks. "Do you mean Tilly Shilling?" he said at last. "I raced against her at Brooklands!" And that was indeed who the Professor meant.

Beatrice Shilling OBE, PhD, MSc, CEng was a highly talented aeronautical engineer - and motorcycle racer, gaining a Gold Star at Brooklands for her 106mph lap.  She became hugely famous when she found an elegantly simple cure for the engine cutting-out problems experienced by Spitfire and Hurricane pilots when making extreme turns.  It was a simple fuel-restriction device, like a washer with a needle valve, that was fitted into the SU carburettor and solved (nearly) the problem until pressurised carburettors were fitted to the Merlin engine.  The little device became known as "Tilly's orifice" - and many of our brave fighter pilots owed their life to it.

Many years later, I purchased an old Leyland Beaver truck to use as my race transporter - and Grandad suggested we fit a Merlin engine to it, like John Dodd had done with a car he called 'The Beast' - but we had problems getting it to run cleanly.  I wrote to SU Carburettors asking if they had any pictures of Tilly's Orifice, and explained it was because my Beaver was running badly.  I had a letter back from some person called Paul Burman that was so rude that I threw it away.

What's in a name?

I have been enjoying a delightful correspondence with a young American gentleman - I won't say who he is save to say he is a very Klassy person!  With great politeness, and not a little old-fashioned Southern charm, he asked if he might call me 'Camilla'.  I was very touched - and of course would be pleased for him to do so, for that is my name. I have, however, disliked abbreviated familiarities for many a year - since, in fact, I was engaged to The Honourable Charles Royston Nicks (who, incidentally, later claimed to be a second cousin of the divine Stevie Nicks).   Charles was fond of calling me 'Cammi' which I thought was because I rode my Grandfather's Model 40, 350cc SOHC Norton - the 'Cammy' Norton (see picture of Jimmy Simpson's Model 40, no.37, at the 1934 Dutch TT - my Grandfather's shoulder can be seen on the extreme right).

Later I found that it was nothing to do with my motorcycling, rather it was a smutty joke amongst his friends that when we were married, I would become Lady Cammi Nicks.  Naturally, I called off the engagement.

Grandfather, of course, hated being called Eddy.  "I was christened Edgar," he would say, "And I'll live as Edgar, thank you." He liked the German tradition of never using christian names, always calling people 'Herr' (ie Mr.) but even he had to smile when he went to see the prototype Cockmobil in Munich, and found the chief mechanic was called Friedrich Kutter - to be addressed as Herr Kutter!

Of course, some people may find the idea of a vehicle called a C**kmobil rather rude, but in those days decency ruled;  now brands think themselves clever if they call themselves something rude - like FCUK, or CNUT, or Twat clothing brands, and even a designer called Eva Minge;  I can hardly bear to write those words.  And then there is that silly woman, Susan Garden, Baroness Garden of Frognal, who has had to ask newspapers to stop referring to her as Lady Garden.  She should have ensured she married someone with a more sensible name - it's called grooming.

Well, that is enough for this year -  thank you to all who have written to me, especially Brady, Scarlet Blue and Mr and Mrs Hattatt all of whom share with me a love of Cream Horns. And to you too, Douglas......xx  

Electric Motorcycles

I was speaking with a dear old friend today when he told me that Spagthorpe were planning to build an electric motorcycle - to be called the Joule!  What wonderful news, as the Jessops have a long connection with Spagthorpe ever since my Grandfather, Edgar, test rode the Spagthorpe Lightning.  Everybody knows that only 17 Lightnings were made and few are known to survive - many having been re-engineered into Brough Superiors.  I did, by extraordinary coincidence, come across this Spagthorpe Bloodhound in the summer - at the Davidstow Racetrack Museum.

Davidstow itself is famous for being where John Coombs gained Lotus's first ever Formula One victory, in a Lotus Lea-Francis in 1954, but I don't think the Bloodhound would have negotiated its tight corners! Interestingly, Davidstow isn't far from Peter Tavy where Spagthorpes are made today. Because so many of their machines were named after dogs (Airedale, Wolfhound, Bloodhound, Beagle to name but a few), my friend Jennifer once wrote to them asking her to call one of their machines the Giant Schnauzer.  That's because she has a Giant Schnauzer, and she said it should be a suitable for women to ride in a skirt or a long dress (the motorcycle that is, not the Schnauzer!).  She was quite sure that, in her circle of friends, it would really catch on, especially if one was loaned to a properly 'womanly' celebrity. But Spagthorpe's marketing people said that they couldn't see it working.

I was quite surprised at that as I thought it would be a great PR opportunity - perhaps someone like Vanessa Feltz might say on her radio show that she had spent the weekend washing and polishing her Giant Schnauzer.    

The joy of cream horns

That charming young American boy, Brady, doesn't know what a cream horn is!  Brady, my dear, you don't know what you have missed!

It is a delicious puff pastry cone, sugar coated, and filled with cream.  Now there are many variations, but the essence of this delicacy is the horn - and the bigger the horn, the better. Then, it is filled with the lovely light cream known as Chantilly cream.  Some people put a dollop of strawberry conserve into the horn first - some people add chopped fruit, nuts, chocolate, even cheese and craime fraiche.  But for me, it is only necessary to have horn and cream. And NEVER custard - that is not a cream horn, it's a custard horn.

So, how should a cream horn be eaten?  Well firstly, one needs to hold the horn delicately, and not squash it - horns are delicate.  Secondly, and without being too personal, it depends upon the size of one's mouth.  I myself like to nibble at the end, gently. Some lick them so that the cream bursts into their mouth, and others can apparently swallow them whole - as I have seen Jennifer's Giant Schnauzer do!

Unsophisticated young girls will often be left with much cream around their face, resulting in licking and sleeve-wiping - but refined gentlewomen will dab at their lips with a moist kleenex.  However, what is NOT acceptable is to burst into a mock rendition of O Sole Mio, substituting the words "Just one Cornetto!"  The Cornetto is horn-shaped but filled with ice-cream and is therefore not a proper cream horn.

A proper accompaniment to a cream horn is a nice cup of tea.  Earl Grey is very acceptable but some good leaf Ceylon is better.  I myself like 'rooibos' - I think a cream horn always goes well with a good Redbush.

Well done Guy!

I am so thrilled for the dear boy - a 5th, a 4th, a 2nd and then finally: a WIN, in the last Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix on Sunday.

He is so talented, and such a lovely boy.  I am sure if Grandad Edgar were still alive he would approve of me throwing myself madly at his feet.  But alas, I fear that I am now too old for such things.  Sic transit gloria mundi.

Is dear Guy hurt?

Guy Martin was at the Armoy Road Races recently, but didn't perform quite as well as expected - no surprise really as, a few days before, he rode in The Salzkammergut Mountain Bike Trophy race in Austria!  It's 120 miles long, and includes climbs of some 24,000 feet! Dear Guy was actually the first British non-Professional rider home!

And now, it has been announced that he is to be the presenter on More4 TV's coverage of the 2011 World Sheepdog Trials.  Oh, he is a talented boy!  Actually, to be honest, I'm not totally a doggy person - more a pussy lover, and I can never see one without wanting to stroke it.  But my friend Jennifer has a Giant Schnauzer, and I am sure Guy would know how to deal with that!