From impressions to dreams

Spyder Driver, here.   Spyder Celeste asked me to say a few words about how we came to meet and embark on this adventure together.  

Not sure quite when the idea was planted, but there are some very early memories of Swiss mountain roads winding down from the Jura to the shores of Lake Geneva, of crisp winter days and summer cervelas-sizzling picnics in mountain meadows. 

These are mingled with stills or snippets of films from the 1950s and 1960s, images of Audrey Hepburn, or The Italian Job, glimpses of Italian sports cars.  And the music that goes with such films … click on the opening line to accompany your reading:

‘On days like these when skies are blue and fields are green…’

There is also the influence of a brother who is a world class restorer of classic cars, including the beautiful 1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider which is the inspiration for Spyder Celeste.  He must have shared a thousand images with me in our childhood, as well as inviting me to choose which of two spark plugs I preferred, or two motorbikes. 

One late, freezing winter night, when I was alone at home, he came to fetch me and we walked for half an hour into town.  At a certain point, he told me to close my eyes, and then to open them: showing me a sleek Italian thoroughbred parked at the side of the road.  He also taught me the art of creative visualisation, as we sat side by side in the attic, a young boy and a little girl, studying a fold out photo of a red Ferrari. 

Slowly, these disparate strands wove into a dream which I never quite imagined possible. Sometime around the age of 12, we had to write a school essay about what we wanted to do when we grew up. I ended up writing about driving a sports car down a mountain road in Switzerland on my way to work.  The teacher, to my amazement and red-faced embarrassment, made me stand up in the classroom so he could tell me it was ‘outstanding’.   

Thank you, Sir, for believing in my dream.  

From dreams to reality

Returning to Switzerland many decades later, it only took a couple of regular pay cheques for me to ask my brother to find me a Giulietta, pale blue, in need of (his) restoration.  I bought the car he found on E-bay during a lunch hour at a meeting in New York.  He went to look it over and pick it up.   

Its restoration involved many phone calls and questions about colour or other preferences, such as whether to lean more towards originality or perfection.  There were shopping lists for car parts I didn’t know existed. The choice of blue was easy, I simply reminded him of the hand-bag I had used when we last met.  Soon after, a colour sample arrived through the post, an exact match.

Some seven years later, he delivered it, a purring, gleaming beauty, to our home. Soon she will be returning to her home country, with me and my husband who makes all things possible, including this project.  He too is Italian, and I will be learning their language.  

‘Questi giorni quando vieni il belle sole…’

The timelessness of things

Love of this car and other things which are timeless (whether by design or default), has inspired (for occasional updates, please click anywhere on the Spydergram box to the left, which will take you to a simple sign up form).    

Things live and last as long as they are loved or liked. They can carry memories and meaning for a single lifetime, a generation or two, or for centuries or millennia, during which their relevance to people may evolve.    

In observing things which have lasted, I’ve been struck by the extent to which many are not made of durable materials – this hit me when I saw a Roman glass bowl which, if it were not for its rarity, could serve as a sugar bowl on the breakfast table. To travel from its maker to the museum a good 2,000 years later, how many people handled it?  How many filled, emptied, washed, dried, wiped, wrapped, packed and generally cared for it?  How many looked at it, picked it up and said, ‘What a nice bowl, I’ll have that’? 

Imagine that chain of connection sitting in a circle.  How many languages or dialects would they speak?  How many coins of diverse currencies might have changed hands when the bowl changed owner (if they paid for it)?  If we could hear the full story of a few such things, what would it reveal?

So, in addition to celebrating a glorious example of timeless 1950s design, the fun, freedom and flair of it, we’ll also be celebrating a bigger story, The Story of a 1000 Things.  

PS  This is ‘Project Double-Oh-Four’.  (Wonder why?  There were three before.)  Click below to find out more.

An overview of the person behind this and other websites celebrating the finer aspects of life: beauty, humour, joy, books, kindness, freedom, language, sharing … 

Project 001:

‘I look upon fine phrases as a lover’ said Keats, and so do we. WritingRedux explores bright writing to enrich human exchange, sharing magnificent quotations, metaphors and other gems, while highlighting bestellar books which have washed through me, in Bronte’s phrase, ‘like wine through water’.  

Project 002:

Celebrating a magical quality in humanity and the people it illuminates, strengthening the humanising forces of kindness, humour and delight. All to accentuate the authentic, unlimited enjoyment of life on what the poet Gumilyov called ‘our brave, our cheerful, our wicked planet’.

Project 003:

Creating the most sparkling, scholarly and sweeping online treasury of fools and jesters throughout history and across the world.  Modest ambitions, as you know, never got anyone anywhere.  Building on the eponymous, award-winning book.  

Project 004:

(You are here).   Sharing the adventures of a car with c(h)aracter in pursuit of fun, freedom and flair, and telling The Story of a 1000 Things of timeless beautility.  


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Copyright & credits: design and content, Beatrice Otto 2022, all rights reserved  -  Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider illustrations by João Montenegro at   -   car restoration by Robin Otto Restorations   -   colours include Celeste by Teresasabeafresa; Aosta Sky by Midoriko; Bright Alfa Romeo by Manekineko; Alfa Blue by Duklida; Sport Car Blue by Conache; Italian Morning Sky by Trouhoff; La Vita è Bella by Joelcc  -   fonts include Joyful and Special Elite.

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