Friday, 23 April 2010
Here for the bier
Roger William Stanbury made a melancholy little journey down Sutton Veny High Street on his MG 18/80. On it, not in it. He was going his last mile, as it were, to the quiet Wiltshire country churchyard. Somebody at the funeral put it rather well. Roger, he said, was not only good at making friends; he was good at keeping them. He had had the 18/80 since he was a student. It could be a fractious car, but if ever an MG was a member of the family, this was it. We celebrated its birthday every year. You invariably enquired after its health, which was often not good. There was always something to worry about – its temperature, gaskets, frothy stuff in the oil. You could once see the road through gaps in the floorboards. How many cold winter night drives to a jolly hostelry to meet MG chums? The 18/80’s hood was sketchy in 1930. Roger didn’t like spending money fixing it. Real Ale was more important. He had left strict instructions to the Vicar that there was to be no Happy Clappy stuff at the funeral. A lot gathered to pay tribute and talk about him. He was a loyal sort of conservative, a deft artist, with an engaging slow-burn laugh. I wasn’t sure about the shaky platform on the back of the 18/80. It looked a bit as though he had made it himself with sticky tape and bits of wood. He would have said he was only here for the bier. This Sunday 25 April would have been Roger’s birthday. He was only 65. We’ll raise a real ale. He is survived by a wife, three sons, two stepsons, an 18/80 and a bereft old friend.