A surprise visit from my brother Robin yesterday. He lives in southern France and was mainly back to replace his car. Now he's got a big black and shiny Audi 4x4 vehicle. The previous one was silver coloured. We went out for a spin. Where Ringinglow Road leaves the city the speed limit is 50mph but he was doing almost ninety. Quietly I mentioned that this was where the boxer Naseem Hamid nearly killed a local man, speeding along the same road. Robin slowed to seventy. But once through the tiny village of Ringinglow he applied the rocket boosters again and instead of slowing round the moorland bends he was accelerating so that you felt the centrifugal forces would turn the car over.
Once in the Pyrenees, Shirley and I were in the back of his car and we were thrown about like teenagers on a fairground ride. No chance to admire the view on a white knuckle ride. At least yesterday I was in a front seat - like a co-pilot with the crazed maniac beside me. Eat your heart out Jeremy Clarkson!
|From left to right - The Pudding brothers in 1958 - Robin, |
Yorkshire, Paul and Simon
Robin has always liked machinery and speed. He has twelve motorbikes and a pilot's licence. He has owned many different cars. His very first one was a souped up Mini Cooper that he maintained with the kind of engagement that I reserved for reading, writing or music. We are very different that way. To me a car is something to get me from A to B within speed limits and without any kind of collision. I drive a bit like Reginald Molehusband while he's more like Dick Dastardly.
It's the same with money. I have no real interest in it. Never have. It is something to buy the groceries with. Something you need for holidays and when the washing machine breaks down. Something you dig into to help out your kids. But Robin knows about money. He knows where to invest it and how to squeeze deals to get the best possible value. You squeeze till the pips squeak. Unlike the rest of us, he has often sold his cars at a profit. They increase in value as mine depreciate.
For all of that, he's a good guy. Hard-working and ambitious in spite or perhaps because of his dyslexia, he achieved a lot in his working life that saw him flying to the Arab world and South America as an export manager where he pulled off various profitable deals - mostly with bonuses attached. But he cares deeply about other people. He remembers acts of kindness, experiences nostalgia keenly and sees the funny side of things perhaps more readily than I do. He has lived with relish - a zest for life - just like my oldest and late brother Paul. Often in frenzied overdrive while I tend to be in cruise control - just motoring along.
I might go and stay at the French house in May. Robin and his girlfriend Suzie are going sailing around Corfu - and he is of course a qualified sailing instructor - but they will need someone to care for their cats back home. I think they have eight now or is it ten? Anyway, we'll see....It was nice to catch up with him yesterday. Friends may come and go but siblings are forever.