In 1967 I was 16 when I bought my TC for £60 from a teacher at school. Although it had an MOT it was not in the best condition. My father and I spent the next two years stripping it down to the chassis and “patching” it back together to make it road worthy. I had no money for anything more.
Nearly everything I took off and replaced ended up boxed in my bedroom. My mother used to say “why are you saving all that rubbish, you will never use it again”. As I have grown older, I have continued to squirrel away “rubbish”. Yes, I still have the bits from 1967 and yes, my mother was mostly right. You never know when things may come in useful. A half shaft that broke in 1973, is now new pivots for my brakes. I have even kept the broken end as a souvenir.
My garage is full, not just with cars; I have pieces of wood, boxes full of all sorts of “useful” things, pieces of metal, assorted nuts and bolts, wire, bits of pipe – not to mention a stack of worn or broken TC parts. Need I go on? The list is endless.
I am sure I am not alone. This raises the question, why do we save things that may be useful?
I have a theory to explain this behaviour. I blame evolution.
Humans are the most successful mammals on the planet. The main reason, our big brain. A brain which depends on a high protein diet. We are, in the main, carnivores to support our big brains. Compared to other successful carnivores, we are not even in the same league. Long sharp claws, no; big canine teeth, definitely not. When modern man evolved some 200,000 years ago, what then made us successful hunters?
We relied on tools, spears, bows, flint knives and axes to kill and butcher our prey. The success of our ancient ancestors as carnivores depended on the quality of their tools. A broken spear, a missed kill, could mean starvation for a family and the end of those genes.
Imagine a hunter who, when they saw a nice straight piece of wood, thought “humm – that will make a good spear handle. I will take it back to my cave. It may come in useful one day.” The wood probably joined a handy lump of stone, a nice looking piece of flint and a plethora of other things. When this hunter’s spear broke, somewhere at the back of his cave, he had a new handle ready to hand. Soon back to hunting. Natural selection favoured those with the inclination to collect and store things. Need I say more?
In evolutionary terms 200,000 years is nothing. We no longer use spears or stone axes, but the bolt…, the bracket…, the broken half shaft…. This list goes on. You never know when something may come in useful. All we are doing is following our evolved behaviours. Behaviours that made the human race so successful. At least, that is my excuse. You can take this analogy even further. Whenever my wife and I go on tour with other MG owners, I often get accused of spending too much time in the car park talking about boring old crank rods or comparing push valves.
You can imagine a conversation between two of our ancient ancestors. “Hey, that’s a rather nice looking spear, how many boars have you killed with it. Six! That’s fantastic. What makes it so good? It is the sharp piece of flint on the end? Mine is only fire hardened wood. Where did you get the flint and how is it fitted? In my view it is definitely worth upgrading your spear”. The better the tools, the greater the chances of evolutionary success. Learning how others have improved their spears is a great way to improve your chances of survival.
We no longer have spears, just classic MGs. “Is that a supercharger? How is it fitted?” We are still cave dwelling hunter-gatherers at heart.
Paul Ireland (evolved from cavemen and women)