The Mechanical Spectator


Readers of Addison and Steele will recognise the allusion instantly, but for those unfortunate enough never to have encountered them, here is the précis.

The Spectator was a character who wrote observations of life and people in a daily sheet published between 1711 and 1712 – he spoke little to those about him, but keenly observed and reported their foibles. He was a member of a fictional club that portrayed members of the clergy, landed gentry, army, and commercial men, and he wove them all into tales of the city of London and an unspecified country seat of Sir Roger De Coverley.

The Spectator was the name of this broad sheet or magazine as well – connected only in name with the current one that restarted in Great Britain in the 1820’s. Addison and Steele have long since handed in their lunch pails but I can recommend their writings to anyone as models of amusement and instruction.

I am delighted to think that in my peregrinations about Perth and Melbourne I can do much the same for readers of this blog, with the additional advantage to they and I, of being able to illustrate it with images. I, too, find that my participation in the various sports and revels is a shallow one – I have no affiliation with any club or organisation – and I can observe at will.

Like The Spectator, I think that I might sometimes get my conclusions muddled – ending up with a wrong conclusion drawn from what I have seen. Like him, I can also exercise prejudice and flippancy, though I hope that the motoring enthusiasts see that there is no real malice.

If people will talk to me, I will talk to them, and give them a fair play here on the page. Most people telling their own story do know the facts of the case, and if they can be persuaded to tell enough of them, even temporary distortions can be got over. I am also happy to say that I know a number of people expert in the field of motor cars, re-enacting, armouring, and other such arcane pursuits. When I err, they correct, and I am grateful for it.

There are a number of temptations involved with this view of the world – that of changing the format of the WordPress blog page for something more historic – the idea of fubstituting and “f” for the firft “s” of a word to give a more ftylish typography – the temptation to Captalise the odd word to put Emphasis here and there. I shall resist – this blog needs serve several streams of topics and going off on one would be restrictive. I couldn’t stand the autocorrect prompts if I tried to to the small f trick – and startling capitals and jumps in typography seem to be more the style of internet political charlatans these days.

And the last thing I want to do is associate with charlatans in my time off…



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