On the 21st May 1989, I was forced to crumple the chrome bumper of my 1958 Borgward Isabella coupe against a (red) traffic light on a steep downhill in Durban, so as not to hit the car that was already there waiting for the light to change. My brakes had failed and what with the hand-brake and changing down swiftly to first gear, I managed to bring the speed down to 10 m.p.h. The crunch was horrible nevertheless and so traumatic that I had to leave the car there and walk down the road to recover myself with a good bawl in private.
A few months before, I’d acquired my first computer but it was all still new and the thought that would become commonplace later, appeared in my brain for the first time. Walking back to the car, I made myself look at the bumper and observed as my brain sprang into action to select the left-hand side of the bumper, copy, paste and transform, so that I had the horizontal mirror version to paste over the crumpled side on the right. Reality is lived one way and that’s forward, unfortunately. And there was nothing virtual about that bumper, nonono. So – no Ctrl Z.
Today I cut out a new DappleShade panel, a bit wider than previous versions and with a straight top. There is a gothic-shaped top for sale at Africa Nova in the Cape Quarter but it seems some customers would prefer straight tops so I’m starting with those as well.
The project has been on hold for almost a year now and I’d forgotten how scary it is, cutting a new panel. The challenge is that it happens free-hand. And one wrong cut – well you have to let it go, like a miscount during the Walk of Attention I mentioned yesterday, and start again from scratch. The lack of an Undo Button makes itself keenly felt during this process. And that’s what’s so exhilarating and exhausting about it, depending on my mindset.
It’s the year of Living with an Oooooomhhh!, even if there’s an Auuuuuuuhh! here and there, so I’ll hand-cut more often, develop new designs, and shelve the thought of mass-production for now. Someone wise once said, ‘Either you ride Life or it rides you’. Last year Life was getting saddle-sores and for me the novelty has so worn off.
This year it’s time to get back on, go easy on the brakes, pull off the rear-view mirrors, stop pining for Undo Buttons and hear some serious wind whistling by.
The first cut (or phone call, or booking, or ‘yes’) is the hardest, but slowly the trust grows and then you can enjoy the view. Or let it all go and start again. Whatever happens, it’s so nice not being in rehearsal (rhymes with reversal).