The European: Back in the day

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Alec Issigonis

Those of you who follow The European may have been wondering where I’ve been these last few weeks. Some speculated that I went to ground for suggesting Audi designers as lazy and had been stalked by some polo-necked hitmen sent out to crush my fingers in the tight and visually arresting shutlines of a new A8. Except there aren’t any on the A8, so I’d have been fine.

Truth is, it’s Christmas-ish and frankly I couldn’t be arsed to write a bloody thing. The weather has been miserable in Sydney but rather than take to my ageing Thinkpad and bash the keys until something resembling an article ended up on the screen in front of me, I took my ageing Thinkpad and bashed the keys until I found something interesting on Youtube instead. Given I have addictively low levels of brow, I tend to end up watching the sort of crap that doesn’t even get you a KFC voucher from Australia’s Funniest Home Videos. Whether you know when you’ve hit rock bottom is a matter of debate but it was somewhere between watching the french version of Avril Lavignes ‘Girlfriend’ (hey hey you you, je n’aime pas ta copine, no way no way, tu as besoin d’une nouvelle) and discovering (late) a notorious video known casually as ‘2 girls 1 cup’. Either way, I knew I had officially exhausted web 2.0, which lead me to something to called a ‘book’ which lead to something more visually stimulating and known as a ‘magazine’.

Come December 24th, with the door to our other business firmly locked, my partner and I follow the star all the way to the nearest newsagent and pay our respects to the new born January issues of a variety of glossy monthlies. Played out in Newslink is the alternative ending of the global finacial crisis where we end up weighed down with booty in an orgy of spending. Hers, being mainly local titles with bylines like ‘Why We Don’t Need Men’ next to ‘How To Satisfy Your Man’ invariably comes in for less than twenty bucks. Mine however takes the financial might usually reserved to rescuing British banks as it composes ten airfreight issues of whichever car mags take my fancy (all of them).

So this year by the time Shane Watson had forgotten to tell his batting partner which end to run to, and I’d disgusted myself with watching “2 girls 1 cup” AGAIN, I’d managed my way through a pretty good selection of Europe and America’s motoring press and you know what, I felt pretty miserable. Miserable, because it seems that half the columnists out there take enormous pleasure in acting like right wing curmudgeons in order to fill a page worth of opinion. Here’s a sample from Gavin Green of Car; “Most urban legislators are militantly anti-car, unless you own a G-wiz”, before going on to write “The Mini—the Issigonis Mini, of course, saved on road space”. Well thanks Gavin, you sound like an old fart, banging on about how things were better in the past and how the politicians are all useless and hate you and want to make Europe a hateful place to be. I say take a stand and bugger off to Alaska where the recently vacated Governor’s seat should suit the sort of views that make it to print in these mags nowadays.

Green isn’t the only one by any stretch and, to be fair, he generally has a positive view on the motoring outlook, but it’s all to easy to score cheap points as a columnist and have a right old moan, knowing that their audience will be nodding away at home to a rant about the reliance of speed detection as a means to reducing the road toll followed up by a sharp rebuke at authority by suggesting we should all go out and buy ML63’s and run children over.

Delightful stuff and not at all original. This is probably familiar to readers and viewers of Jeremy Clarkson, because he, after all, started it and then perfected it. His immense popularity has lead to a legion of lazy journalist followers begging to be compared to Him and demonstrate the sort of influence on the great unwashed as He does, praying nightly that they too may be banned by a car manufacturer from ever driving their cars (it was apparently Hyundai or so the legend goes). Oh for Kia to tell me I cannot drive their Sorrento!

As promises go, therefore, this may seem a tad unoriginal, too, but I’m going to make it all the same; MY10 The European promises to turn a new leaf, to no longer moan and carry on about how bad things are but rather celebrate the joy that driving a car brings.

So stay tuned through 2010 and I promise, not a bad word about parking inspectors, speed cameras—or Audis.