Saturday 26 September 2009

It wasn't me

Once upon a time, I worked in the car industry. It was glitzy, it was glamorous. Especially as I was a PR man. A master of spin. I'd got in by default - on the milk round, I'd simply wanted a job with a big company who could train me. I ended up at Rover, in the days just after Red Robbo. It was more peaceful than it had been, but there were still strikes, and when there was a strike, and you had to visit one of the other sites, you always make sure you took a company car, as you were likely to have a brick hurled at you. As I was a snotty, just out of university, the world owes me a living graduate, that was probably not unreasonable. Apart from those exciting days, generally the best parts of the job were the motor show and car launches. I moved to Nissan at the time they were building their factory ooop north, so when we had a launch we did it in style. A week in the south of France, staying in a hotel where every room had its own swimming pool; it was frequented by Kings, Queens and Presidents. But even I blushed when I was tasked with finding a laid of he night for our one of our journalist guests. I loved it.

But not as much as I enjoyed the press trips when we were showing off our 4x4s. A couple of days driving through the mud and ruts in an enormous Japanese tank was my idea of heaven. We used Shugborough in Staffordshire - the home of Lord Litchfield if I remember rightly. It's a beautiful place to visit.

After I left the car industry, I carried on with the 4x4 thing driving a hairdresser's car - a white soft top Suzuki Vitara. The car was fabulous. It was a company car, and I didn't much care if it got damaged. My best and worst moment was getting stuck in the middle of a lake when the whole of the underneath got clogged with mud. The AA towed me out, and there was some explaining to do at the office on the Monday. Most of the other people doing it used Land Rovers and always looked down on my pretty little car.

This year with the purchase of the Tonka Toy, and with the enthusiastic support of the boy, we decided to go to an event and christen the car...another friend with a big 4x4 decided to come too. An off road event near Abingdon, which promised thrills and spills on a 'non-damaging' course. But as the date neared, the boy's commitments at school increased, and for some reason my enthusiasm lessened. It was going to be difficult to fit it in, so I decided that we would give it a miss. Perhaps it was the thought of expensive potential garage bills. So what was planned to be a weekend of camping and mud crawling (and as it turns out, in perfect conditions), has ended up with me watching the boy play rugby, and him rehearsing for the school drama competition. We could have just about squeezed in a trip to the event - a dash round the M25 and along the M40, but we didn't. Perhaps it wouldn't have been wise to have tackled the mud under pressure, but truth is I think I wimped out. So I'm a little annoyed and disappointed with myself. The boy is a little disappointed too. My friend still went and he texted the picture above. He had a brilliant time. Today is a glass half-empty day. Damn it Janet.

Thursday 24 September 2009

The Scottish question. A rant - please feel free to ignore

I've long been known to rant about the state of the UK and I've been known to rant long about this government's interferance in the minutae of our daily lives.

Once upon a time it was quite difficult to break the law, so you could be sure that if you did, you were a signed up member of the criminal fraternity. Ignorance was no excuse. However, these days it is often easier to break the laws of the land than stay within them. There are so many rules and regulations to bind us that I'm sure soon none will have gold stars for behavious, we'll all just have black marks. I've lost count of the rules I've broken by mistake, and fines I've paid as a result...and it starts to make you feel you're a seasoned law-breaker...

My instinct is that our beloved, upright, honest politicians are driving towards a totalitarian state, with each citizen monitored 24 hours a day for their entire life. Fear has been a political tool in this coun try for a dozen or so years, and shows no sign of abating - even for serious issues such as swine flu, the information coming out of the government was designed to cause panic and fear. And most issues, Joe and Joanne Public are treated as guilty until proved innocent. And in case we think we're right, it's only because they know something we don't, so we're wrong and they're right

So I laughed until I fell off my chair at the problems of our Attorney General. I've nothing against Baroness Scotland herself, but as part of the Government she got nothing more than she deserved. I took the opportunity to try and find out what you need to do if you employ a foreign national, and not surprisingly it was a herculean task to work it out. I'm not Hercules, so am still not entirely sure. But what I did find was the documents I was supposed to read. And the nearest I got was List A and List B of documents which 'Provide an excuse'...which to me is the language of "guilty, but you can get away with it", rather than if you want to employ someone these are the documents you should have.

To me it feels that this isn't the country I was brought up to believe in. I wonder if the boy will be feeling the same in 34 years time.

End of rant. Normal service resumed soon.

Monday 21 September 2009

What shall I buy?

I have a fact I have many rules. But the one that's important here is that if I ever get a parking ticket or something of that ilk, whatever the fine, then I will spend the same amount on a treat. I think it's the ideal solution to combat the immeasurable depression that's brought on by the thought of having to donate yet more money to the wasters that occupy many a town hall - with immediate and abject apologies to the public sector staff that do provide a genuine service to the community.

I think I mentioned a fortnight ago, a tenant managed to get himself from here to the States without a valid passport, meaning I spent my Saturday finding a key so his sister could get into the flat and FedEx his passport to him. On my return journey, my phone went, and I pulled over thinking it was the sister who had a problem. And therein lies the problem. I hadn't realised I stopped in an empty bus lane. As evidenced below.

It's cost me £60 (reduced from £120 for good behaviour), so I need to find a £60 treat. And convince myself that in future I should do anyone any favours. At all.