Monday, May 14, 2012
Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
Pump and circumstance*
Sights like this bring back memories of a time when filling up did not involve a major hit on the credit card account and when, with relatively few cars on the road, thoughts of environmental costs were limited mostly to the effects of exhaust fumes on the air quality in big cities. A time, too, when the roads were quiet enough for the pumps to be right on the street, like these. There was no forecourt – you just pulled up and the supply line was long enough to reach your vehicle. These two pumps are on the main street in the centre of Great Missenden, not far from the museum devoted to the life and works of the village’s most famous resident, Roald Dahl. Apparently the Red Pump Garage features in one of Dahl’s books. The bright red pumps very much look the part and presumably their survival is at least in part a tribute to the celebrated author. The notice on the door says they have been “Out of fuel” since eight gallons cost more than a litre. In other words, the place has been closed for years – but it is still a repository of memories.
*Not my joke, alas. This line has already been used as the title of a book on gas stations and by manufacturers of ballet shoes.