Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Why do people drive crap cars? Now I'm not talking about the just left school rusting iron can that we all start off in, I too have been been there trying to squeeze the last drop of fuel out of what my son calls a "Nissan shitbox" ( actually I think the line is from the Transformer movie - but is still relevant, and must mean a great deal to him, as he gets a clip around the ear every time he says it, and he says it a lot!)

Like most red-blooded men I salivate over pictures of the Bugatti Veyron, or the Audi R8 Spyder , yes I know suggesting that car worship is only a male thing is sexist and old fashioned - but when you have been surrounded all your life by females who choose cars by what colour they are, if they have a pretty name, or look as if they have a smile on their face, you will forgive me thinking that women who like cars in the same pornographic way as men - must be either lesbians, transexuals or trying to impress a man, or all three! You see men like cars because we are immature, we are just big kids who think that a Ferrari will instantly make us a rock star, hide the fact that we are overweight, cover our bald spots, inflate our bank balances and lengthen our brain repository. We all want to be George Clooney, David Beckham, Mick Jagger or Jenson Button, and believe that owning a flash car is like putting on a magic cloak that instantly turns us into a Brad Pitt looking, Formula 1 driving, Glastonbury playing male porn star - doesn't it?

If you don't believe me, tell me why do car manufacturers, design, make, market and sell cars in this way? Why are billions poured into advertising penis extensions on wheels? Why does every Porsche 911 owner look like Danny De Vito rather than Pierce Bronson? And do you really think the scantily clad girls holding numbers on the race grid are there so the drivers know which car to get in? Yes more and more cars are being selected, paid for and driven by women - but most automotive PR and marketing directors are male, as are the designers, engineers, production staff, financiers and senior management. They make cars to satisfy their own manic craving for ego boosting satisfaction. If women ran the car industry we would all be driving sensible, fuel economic, environmentally friendly, practical, reasonably priced, comfortable, durable, reliable and safe vehicles that we kept for ten years and that would be just plain stupid!

Right, now I have that of my chest, and have just alienated more than half of the population, back to the topic - why do people drive crap cars? This question raised itself last night when trying to get home whilst following a Hyundai Theycouldntbebotheredtomakeanameupbecausethedesignerdiedofboredombeforefinishingthecar 1.1l Diesel, driving at 16.3 miles per hour along a 50 MPH limit route. Due to the speed I had a long time to look at the back of this vehicle which was new, and red, which is all i can remember as I might as well have been looking at a bowl of green pea soup. The car as it was new probably cost the best part of £10,000 to buy, and was worth exactly £0.64p in the nano second after the transaction was complete, which is reason number 1 not to buy something like this, reason number two is the brand, buy a Hyundai and your telling your neighbours you have terminal cancer and no longer see the value in living, either that or you couldn't afford the Golf. But what about the 5 years warranty I hear you scream, well that's like saying Aids is better than a cold because it lasts longer - why do you think Hyundai give 5 years warrant? - because that's the only way they can get people to buy them!

I'm not just having a go at Hyundai, add to the list Daihatsu, Mahindra, Geely, Fiat, Suzuki, Daewoo, Tata, Kia, Proton, Isuzu, and anything French. In fact any car that isn't Ford, GM, Japanese(excluding Suzuki), and European (excluding Fiat). . These are all going to seriously damage both your wallet, personal standing within the community and cause your kids to get beat up at school. You don't have to have lots of money to retain your dignity and prevent your children from being both mentally and physically scared for the rest of their lives. You just need to buy a car with your heart not your brain (or if your a man with your dick). Buy a second hand VW Golf, a newish Ford Mondeo, Fiesta or Focus, a Honda Civic or Toyota Yaris. if you have a bit more money get a second hand Audi A3 or the old style 3 series, and to be really extravagant go and get a high mileage Mercedes E class, Land Rover or Volvo, all of these are practical, and are at home outside Aldi or Harrods, buy them when they are a couple of years old and they will have already devalued like BP shares and are infinitely more reliable.

You will notice all of those cars are either saloons, hatchbacks or 4x4's, that is with good reason. If Diesel is the devils sperm, then People carriers and MPV's are the piles on the backside of Lucifer. They were invented by the French, just like the Guillotine, syphilis, Goneria and Gittes (which are barns for poor people, or alternatively luxury wood cabins for gullible British Tourist), and like anything French it probably started off as a joke that everyone else took seriously because they thought it must be fashionable, or "in-style", because as we know all French people exude style?

Buying an MPV is like saying "a car is just a means of transport", "driving is about getting from A to B", or alternatively it's like saying "I have nothing left to give, I am a hollow vestal devoid of emotion, pride, self esteem and self respect. I have given up hope of ever feeling emotion again and if I was a horse you would shoot me". You want lots of luggage space buy a hatchback or a roof rack, you want a high driving position buy a 4X4, you want 7 seats buy a Land Rover or a Volvo, you want lots of cubby space - stop buying so much crap and treating your car as a bedside cabinet.

Clarkson continually derides the bus lanes, saying no one ever uses them, and they should be abolished. I say let's make it law that all crap cars should be allowed to use it. At least then they can continue on their "journey from A to B" without getting in the way of those of us who still live for a short section of clear Tarmac. While we are at it, why don't we include all MPV, caravan towing and St Georges flag waving vehicles into driving in this select lane, at least then they can bask in their smugness and continue to pretend that they really couldn't care what car they drive, or what people think about them.

Calm down Paul, take 3 Aspirin and count to ten!

Sunday, 20 June 2010


Following the euphoria of iPad heaven and the move over to Wordpress, I failed to mention that my blog(s) had also reached a milestone – 60,000+ hits or visits or people who had searched for something completely different and had Google mistakenly divert them to my ramblings.

I started the blog on the 2nd April 2007 with an account of my move from Nanjing HQ to the new MG Production facility in Pukou. (First Day in the New Factory).

I felt that this episode in MG’s long history should not have been missed and even if it was down to someone who had only ever written cheques before, the next chapter in this famous British brand needed capturing.

Since I started blogging it has been enjoyable, sometimes painful, but has almost always been done with a sense of release. However for every blog published there are another 10 sitting on my hard drive. These are the blogs about what I really think of the Pheonix Four (Five), the car with Zero ENCAP rating, my explanation for the demise of Longbridge and MG-R, the time I met the people investigating the ‘missing millions’, exploding Taxi’s, the real reason why Chinese Senior Managers have male PA’s, journalist tantrums, sharing showers with 10 other men and all about Li ShuFu, the man, the entrepreneur, the lunatic, to name but a few. The blogs will have to wait until I am either financially secure or have been entered into a witness protection program, for now they sit guarded on my hard drive waiting for me to grow a new set of balls.

One of the fascinating things about my blogs, is that I haven’t got a clue who reads them, my wife confesses to have never found them interesting – which is amazing since she has made this assessment without ever actually reading them, there isn’t enough death, blood and guts in them for my Xbox crazed son to bother with, and the rest of my extended family cant understand how to change the web page from facebook. I don’t have what you could traditionally call ‘friends’ as I have always been such a miserable bastard. So I guess it could be past work colleagues, as I have had enough of those to form an army equal in size only to Kim Jong II’s. Who reads my blog has always been a mystery to me, so I employed the help of IP technology! A little piece of software that sits on your web site and records everything about who, when, where, what and how.

The application I have been using is called ‘sitemeter’, and scarily it can hunt down whoever visits your website. I only take the free offering which only identifies new IP addresses (for those who are not network literate – this is the individual address assigned to a computer on a network) and how many times they visit, stay online etc. whilst I only see the city, state and country of my visitors – I only subscribe to the free service, god knows what you can find out is you actually pay for the search?

So now I know that people in:

Allamuchy, New Jersey and Laurence, Massachusetts

Caboolture, Queensland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Ashfield NSW

Picton and Belleville, Ontario

Auckland, New Zealand

Limoux, Languedoc-Roussillon

And, all over the UK people have at least mistakenly ventured onto these pages, and a whole host of "location unknown" which I presume are from behind the great fire wall of China? The fact that at least someone out there reads this, makes me continue to spend the odd couple of hours putting finger to keyboard, but before I get carried away with the popularity i did some simple maths;

60,000 hits in 38 months or
1578 per month or
394 per week or
52.6 per day
2.3 per hour or
0.04 per minute

If I take away down time, the hours people sleep, all of the times I have posted, edited, looked at and read my own blog then i come up with a figure closer to 1 hit every every week - so I was right, nobody does read it!

(Just in-case anyone does - drop me a note, and cheer me up, after all it is fathers day!)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


The arrival of the postman these days nearly always means another bill, or a flyer from someone trying to sell you insurance cover for the pet gerbil you haven't got. since the introduction of mobile phones, text messaging, and email took over the worlds communication the art of writing with ink on paper has become the sole domain of school children and doctors, the fact that in both cases whatever written is barely illegible, probably makes most of us thankful for the cell phone, computer and printer.

It was predicted that the explosion in alternative communication would decrease direct contact with others and a drop in interaction, however talking, sharing views and exchanging ideas has increased in volumes way beyond anyones expectations, and in ways that none of us could have anticipated or even dreamed of just a few years ago.

I started traveling abroad with work about 15 years ago, and on those week long trips we were allowed a single phone call back to our families to say that we had arrived safely. more frequent interaction would have required either computers the size of your average industrial estate, or smoke, a blanket and a high mountain. Soon after this I did a stint in Georgia, USA, this involved spending 3 months or so at a time in a place just around the corner from the dark side of Jupiter called Brunswick, and aside from the initial phone call the only other means of communication was via a 56k dial up modem and email, although as we never had a computer in our home this proved fairly pointless for communicating anything other that telling work that you were still alive, and hadn't spent all of your company expenses - yet.

In contrast I am now able to tell my family when I am about to go to sleep, when i have woken up, what I had for lunch, how bad the taxi driver smelt, and how soft the toilet paper is in the hotel, in fact technology allows us all to record, display and share every second of our day to anyone anywhere in the world, as it happens, and in full colour. Whilst I can not deny helping my son do his maths via msn, as I travel in a taxi somewhere in the middle of Swaziland is useful, or that checking-in online for a flight to allow yourself the luxury of an extra 30 minutes in bed is a great treat. However i do think that this can all go too far, first we had email, then text messaging, instant messaging, blogging and now twittering.

As a blogger myself it may seem hypocritical for me to dispel twittering as a fad or a craze that doesn't have any real merit. However (although it may not always seem like it) I only use email, texts, or instant messaging if I want to tell somebody something, or conversely find something out. You could still argue that blogging in this context is pointless? I suppose, my original purpose was to let family and friends know what I was up to, However i found that I enjoyed writing and have used it as a way to capture what was going on in my life, my thoughts, ideas and at least it gives me something to do at the airport.

I don't twit, or twat or whatever the correct term is, and I don't post pictures of my shoelaces on Facebook. The idea of twittering doesn't fill me with any excitement, knowing the precise time when your next door neighbour has emptied his bowels or brought a new dishcloth, isn't top of my "things to understand before I die" list. I can see the appeal of following a 'celebrity' if that's your bag, but trying to fit my life into 120 words would be a big problem for me, and besides I have enough problems trying to make my blog interesting using 1000+ words each week, let alone making every 5 minutes seem at all worthy of publishing.

So for the moment I will still to my blog, although a couple of things will/have changed recently, the first is that I am slowly defecting to wordpress, after several years of sticking with Blogger, i have grown tired of not being able to access it in China without engaging the type of technology used by the worlds espionage fraternity. I have also had many problems with reading blogger via Internet explorer and having to revert to the more accommodating Mozilla. Which despite being superior to Microsofts offering, isn't as widely used or even known by many people.

The other event is one that I am bursting to tell, just like a small child would be when wishing to tell everyone where the last friend is hiding in a game of hide and seek, or if his brother had just kicked the football through the kitchen window and his burgeoning desire to denounce any responsibility to his parents. Some people in the press have suggested that the event I am talking about can compare with the feeling they had at the birth of their first born, how stupid - it is far more important and emotional than that, and it doesn't require feeding every five minutes, it doesn't smell like the devils armpit and isn't subject to screaming fits.

Of course the event is the introduction of my new new toy, I am writing this blog on the equivalent of Moses tablets of stone - the Apple iPad. Yes I must be crazy to buy into an unproven technology and of course this isn't as revolutionary as we may have all hoped and dreamed of during the longest labour in history, but it is pretty spectacular.

But surely it's just an overweight iPod touch? But that's like saying the Bugatti Veyron is just a faster Fiat Panda, Concorde was just a sleeker Bi-plane or Buckingham Palace is just a large house. the iPod touch and it's brother the iPhone reinvented the mobile phone market, love or hate Apple you cannot deny the impact these products have had on the industry - especially now that everyone is running to try and catch up.
I have had all 3 generations of iPhone and despite the obvious limitations have loved each one, the iPad just does everything the same just bigger and better - ask any women if size matters, and if they say no, they are trying to protect your ego!

With a desire not to sound like an Apple nerd I won't jump into a 5000 word essay on why it's brilliant, but I will sum my views into one word - speed. Any one who has lived with a windows laptop, will know that the boot-up time can feel like passing a kidney stone, as can the time to find a document, or switch between applications. I can now understand why Steve (The Messiah) Jobs couldn't understand the need to run multiple applications at once, he obviously hasn't used one of Mr Gates windows products, if you don't keep your applications all open at the same time, you die of boredom between waiting for one to open up. The introduction of running multiple applications on the next OS 4.0 may make some people happy - I just hope it doesn't kill the ipads single biggest advantage - speed!