Upstaged by a lady

DEAR readers I have good news. The trusty rusty Rover, my preferred form of celebrity transport, has been given a new lease of life. A little bit of work on the electric fan, and suddenly the car best known for its lack of refinement and rust on the wing is reborn.

DEAR readers I have good news.

The trusty rusty Rover, my preferred form of celebrity transport, has been given a new lease of life.

A little bit of work on the electric fan, and suddenly the car best known for its lack of refinement and rust on the wing is reborn.

Now, instead of having to turn on the heating to cool the engine - a particularly unpleasant experience in the recent weather I can assure you - a fan in the engine kicks in and the engine temperature remains under control.

The nagging fear of overheating in to a raging inferno during a trip to the supermarket, is fast becoming a distant memory. So emboldened was I by my new-found confidence, that I decided to give the Rover a bit of a spin. Pushing my baby to its limits, I left the secure and safe county of Suffolk and drove over the border in to Essex.

A daring move I know, but as the Rover purred like a Bentley through the delightful countryside towards Colchester, I found myself rather enjoying the drive-a rare event on the modern British road.

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Like a comforting Betjeman poem, I passed cool ancient churches and high dry hedges, and all the while the Rover behaved. I was met at my destination-the West Bergholt show-by a man with no top and a high visibility jacket.

“Where should I go?” I said.

A couple of arm movements and a grunt or two later - words had clearly failed him - I was parked up and trying to negotiate a rough field with a pair of rather impractical flip flops.

For those who haven't been the West Bergholt show, isn't a massive event, but it's friendly nonetheless.

The union jack was flying high, a few well dressed locals picnicked behind their classic cars, a couple of charities were raising a few pounds and a few old steam engines were providing lungfuls of smoke.

As I mooched about trying to decide if I had walked enough to deserve an ice cream, I noticed a crowd forming - and for once it wasn't around me.

“You don't see many of those anymore,” I overheard a man declare.

Intrigued, I shimmied a little closer wondering why I hadn't been recognised and what could possibly be more interesting than me.

Well, she's called Victoria and she's 99 years old. She belongs to my father.

In Essex you don't need to be almost famous, you don't need to be a desperate wanna-be star, you don't' need to be a talented and popular journalist; you don't even need to be handsome to find yourself the centre of attention. All you need to be is a navy blue 1907 Davey Paxman traction engine.

“There's only four of them left in preservation,” said the expert polishing the brass, “She's quite rare really.”

Built in Colchester at the height of the Edwardian age and one of my steam-mad dad's acquisitions, Victoria had upstaged me with ease. If you can't beat them join them.

Treating the magnificent example of British industrial heritage with the respect you would a hot saucepan, I climbed aboard.

Of course, just moment's later I was spotted by an eagle eyed photographer keen to record the moment Ipswich celebrity met Essex glamour girl Victoria. So we shared the limelight.

“That's it look at me James, give her love,” the photographer chivvied.

Naturally, never one to miss the opportunity to get myself in a newspaper, I complied.

From Paris to Berlin, every disco that I'm in makes me feel old.

And to be honest dear readers an invitation that landed on my door mat this week has given me cause for concern.

“James plus one is invited to David's 40th birthday... etc etc etc.”

Though no 'plus one' springs to mind, and despite rather worrying instructions to wear an afro wig, the mere fact that I am off to such a milestone event really has me fretting.

It seems only a moment ago that I thought that people who were 30 were old.

I must be knocking on.

Indeed, as my plain speaking photographer friend Lucy, said: “You are.”

For those of you who have seen Superman Returns, I can assure you it is a spelling mistake.

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the name James Marsden appears prominently in the opening credits. Such an error happens all the time.

To be honest, I am not too upset. I am rather surprised that I even got a credit for just providing the body double for Brandon Routh, but he insisted telling producers he wished he had a physique like mine and I should get my due recognition.

Who am I to argue with the man of steel?

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