Birth Of A Car

Birth of a car

A remarkable thing happened two days ago.  I saw a TV advert for a car I had not previously seen.  No, not an unforeseen TV advert.  They happen frequently.  Not frequently enough to make the programme intermissions tolerable but frequently enough to make my opening gambit a little more interesting.  No, it was the car I couldn’t recall seeing before.

Now this may be relatively common to many of you.  After all that is one of the three key objectives of advertisements, to introduce new things and you are forgiven for not being as interested in new cars as I am.  Few are.

In case you were wondering what the other two main advertising objectives are, the second is the necessity to ingrain concepts, products and trademarks into our subconscious.  After all we all know beans, hamburgers and replacement glazing products exist.  But just as importantly you are already subconsciously thinking Cross & Blackwell, Wendy’s and that annoying, shouty man who knocks over the window panes.  Weren’t you?

The third key element in advertising is the attempt to make you purchase that which you had no intention to do so.  Chocolate, trips to the Isle of Wight and the unnecessary replacement of perfectly good settees fall into this category.

I too am subjected to many new things in advertising, be they two for ones, money squirrelling or feminine hygiene products only an engineering graduate could master.  Although I think I’ve acquired all knowledge a man ever needs to know about comparing insurance rates.  However it is rare that I ever see a TV advert for a car that I had not seen before.

I am a confirmed petrol head.  In the past I have confessed more to worshipping at the feet of Clarkson than showing any affinity for God, Buddha, Ganesh or any of the other normal deities.  And I use a diverse method of feeding my brain so consume much news, commentary and opinion from a wide range of sources.  I really should have it all covered before an expensive TV advert is launched.

After all a car is not cracked out of an egg suddenly.  It does not emerge from a birth canal.  It isn’t dropped from an alien spacecraft.  No, it is conceived, presented in an wildly, exaggerated form, discussed and touted long before spanner meets galvanised panel.  And at each process the media is fed snippets and prose to both build the tension and test the theory.  And my collated media covers all this with animated glory.

Yet yesterday I saw a vehicle I had never set eyes on before.  And it wasn’t even one of those dreary, soulless, forgetful Korean products either.  This was a curvaceous sports coupe.  And not even from a tinpot niche maker.  This was from one of Japan’s mega machine suppliers.

In truth the car was already in my radar scope.  It was on the front page of TopGear magazine which was given to me the day before.  I had not yet had a chance to read this so it had languished in the magazine rack.  I suspect it was also in the car blog I follow but work has prevented much blog reading lately.  So it got through my net.

By now you may be wondering what this magical beast was.  That is if you’re not wondering when this diatribe will eventually end.  But I have chosen not to do the final reveal as it isn’t really the point.  The denouement should not weaken the preceding opinions and in this case the mystery will be more tantalising.  Whether your head is made of petrol or not.

Apart from that I saw another one today.


So rarely something happens that changes our perceptions so completely it takes you a bit by surprise.  The 2012 London Olympic Games was a rare example of this.  And from what I hear and read I’m not the only one who has had to re-focus their original opinion.

An official Olympic branded BMW 320d passes by close to my front door

My thoughts about the ‘OGs’, as I shall refer to them to avoid a lot of finger pressing, started earlier than most.  Yes we all had a passing interest when we heard that we beat the French in the first game of the season by winning the rights to spend a fortune on the spectacle.  But a lot of thoughts turned elsewhere very soon.  After all, you can only do so many laps of French gloating.

But I thought there may be quite an overlap between the OGs and myself.  I earn my tech-spend money in construction and moved in close enough circles to think I may get some work out of this massive money-pit.  Not only in planning and commercially running some of the work but also in the likely delay and disruption claims that seemed sure to follow in the subsequent three years.

But the Lord Coe & Co had other plans and secured the construction via an alternate consortium who for some peculiar reason managed to build it all on time and within budget.  Leaving me with no pie encased finger and nothing to pick over later.

I was never asked to lift a finger to help.  And from history it seems this was a shrewd move by LOCOG.  Ahem.

So it was with the rest of you that I did the marathon ignorance of the whole caboodle until the organisers started a spectacle of individuals chundering through the countryside with a naked Greek flame.  Even then my cynicism vented through my first words as I tweeted ‘..As the Olympic torch relay passes from worthy individual to worthy individual. Each carefully selected from those without eBay accounts..’

Another official Olympic vehicle passing by. This time a coach

But soon I became quite fond of the procession.  Instead of seeming repetitive the flame relay with its smart convoy of BMWs, buses and outriders became quite the thing.  I wanted to see it all but not so much as to bother to move from my front porch.  Then it went past the porch and I got all fan-like again.

I then had reason to visit London on a couple of occasions and felt a palpable frenzy in the air.  London, washed clean and made green by the preceding months rain, smelt fresh and the £11bn expenditure was everywhere.  Particularly in the never-ending barriers.  Even the Olympic lanes looked right.  And there was still a week to go.

And when the sport started and the infectious crowds recorded by our rightly partisan broadcaster got into the swing I started to regret not paying a small mortgage on the chance of seeing a sport I wouldn’t normally cross the park to observe.

And so normality got put on hold.  Meaning for me, I barely posted a Tweet.  Subconsciously avoiding tempting fate because as you all know if I said “Ooh, this is Good” almost certainly Katherine Grainger wouldn’t have won Gold and Steve Redgrave would have missed out on his hug.  And I couldn’t do that, could I?  Even worse I wondered how poignant praise may be if Johnny Terrorist suddenly decided to let rip.  In hindsight he seemed to have been as engrossed as we were.

I’m not saying everything was perfect as some commentators have suggested.  The overuse of the word historic for the event and individual contributions had been both abundant and annoying.  In wearing my pedant hat either everything is historic or nothing is.  A first woman’s boxing win may be classed as such but a double gold in two events or multiple successes or medalling may be repeated again.  And the event itself, no matter how much we enjoyed it is not historic in the way it was suggested.

Even aeroplanes parked up nearby for various visiting Olympic dignitaries

I also noticed not every medal winner was happy.  I’m particularly thinking of the Silver medallists.  When Gold was earned it was either great joy or relief.  Bronzees did the same.  But the guys who got Silver often looked pretty miffed.  I presume this is because Silver was seen as failing to get Gold.  The reason why Bronze medallion wearers were equally as proud as the Golden guys was that they could rightly be classed an Olympic medal winner.  And they weren’t fourth.

My final thought has to go to the legacy.  After all that’s what won the bid for the Brits over the French and The London Olympic Committee can be glad that this will manifest itself in two distinct ways.

Firstly the games legacy will inspire a nation of young fit athletes.  In Jamaica.

And more importantly, the London 2012 font will inspire a whole load of copycat writing. Mark my words [with an angular felt tip pen].