VeeDub Bus (Old Volkswagen Camper vans). Tilley Hats. Billingham Camera bags.
If you are an owner of any or each of these? You acknowledge other owners owning their own one.
Driving around in a VeeDub you see others on the roads. You wave to them in acknowledgement that you are both blessed in ownership. Last few I have seen recently this hot summer have all had different wave styles and types. Simple waves, peace signs, Spock hand shapes, thumb and little finger raised with index/middle/ring finger sat tucked in the palm, VW shaped fingers (2 right hand and 3 left hand fingers providing the VW so I can see it as VW). A plethora of hand shapes akin to Mudra and equally applied as a deep spiritual gesture.
Interestingly, when I trained in British Sign Language you learn to sign the way you yourself see it. So giving a telephone number you sign from left to right in a line the way it is written down. I suppose some VW finger presentation palm out or facing matters. Especially if a police officer is standing on the roadside when you do some signs! Last one seen was a guy who took both his hands off his T5 steering wheel and did the ‘heart’ shape. I drive with one hand at least on my steering wheel, so singular hand used always in my ‘designer’ wave. Mine is to draw a circle in the air with full open palm outwards hand to closed fist/thumb up at end of circle palm drawn.
Once you own one? Well. It’s the number one I go to. Especially the light cream old one. If Hunter S Thompson wore one? Says it all.
The hats have a flap Velcro pocket inside the crown of the hats. Inside it has a plastic sealing bag with information on it. Reading? There was an observation on the ‘Privileged information – pass it on’ part on the back of ‘each and every’ small tear off individually and differently storied leaflet. So important advice because of it’s consistency! Provision of acknowledgement means ‘A warm hug, or stand him or her to a drink’. Myself and my wife were visiting a small town near to our vicinity and a holiday visitor, wearing a Tilley, was sitting in a bar café we had stopped at. I was wearing mine. ‘Nice hat! Suits you sir”, I said. “Your’s too”, was his gentlemanly reply. “Let me buy you a drink”, he continued. Refusing and saying I’d get my own. He asked if I’d read the hat’s hidden leaflet. “Some of the stories” I said. He smiled and educated me. Well. Now I know don’t I? I accepted. Bought him one in return and we exchanged some nice conversation.
That’s what happens with camaraderie as a life presence. It becomes a positive force due to it’s very existence. Like the story of playing football on the battle field in World War 1. The Christmas truce. Whether it is actually true in it’s telling as an extraordinary unique event. Or as some experts’ analysis state, did not happen in the way told. It still holds grace and hope in it’s re-telling. That respect and empathy in each other’s existence can exist. Especially in the Sanctity of Christmas which can show in reality that human spirit indeed has an empathy to be admired. Of course a Tilley or Volkswagen exchange cannot be compared to a World War battlefield. But even the slightest presentation of good will exchanges are valuable. As David Mitchell wrote, “My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
The Billingham camera bag
is ‘The’ photographers’ bag of choice to many serious photographers. On a break in the Llyn Peninsula, Wales I saw a guy, with his wife, buying a coffee and ordering a meal. He was carrying a Billingham bag. We were next in the queue, still socially distancing more and standing a good nine to twelve feet away. I smiled and asked him if he had digital or film camera preference. We got chatting outside. Exchanged the facts about our Billingham bags, his Leica, my Pentax LX cameras, high and slow speed film, grain or no grain, etc. We were sitting at two opposite tables about 12 feet apart both looking out to sea from a beautiful beach side veranda. A very calming chat. Upshot was, he had some photographs recently published in one of the main British Daily newspapers about the Covid impact on hospital staff. We exchanged a couple of email messages. We’d both accessed each others’ photography sites and spoke of how impressed we both were in each others’ work. That was it. A small window in a very difficult time consisting of good vibes in a few exchanges between two people. Again. A fantastic inclusion in and extension to one’s life experiences. All from a simple conversation of a shared interest exchange across café tables.
Keep Calm and Spend All Your Money on an Old Volkswagen. But 50 years and the Summers’ VeeDub Billie is still rocking and rolling along. And sharing great vibes with other owners.
The Tilley Hat?
Lifetime guarantee. If it wears out……it gets replaced with a new one for free. Wouldn’t want to. The more vintage distressed, the better. It’ll take more years to get gloopy, battered and torn than I can throw at it though!
The Billingham bag?
The design in canvas, leather and brass is ‘old school’. The whole feel you get when housing your camera equipment is ‘Absolutely love this! It’s just so beautiful yet robust and reliable’. The workmanship is divine. Of course there are bags out there that are probably more resistant to all weather conditions thrown at them. But the Billingham looks and feels ageless, cool and iconic.
There are many writings regarding the Volkswagen here on the site. And an individual themed upload regarding the Billingham. The Search Box on main page can find these. Thank you.
Please tap on individual photographs to enlarge.