Thursday, 26 August 2010

Never Mind The Bollards

- it's the roadsigns and mobile phone masts that annoy me.

It is in my village anyway. Bollards don't seem to cause me any inconvenience, they intrude onto pavements ("sidewalks" if you're American) a lot less than parked cars which I found a nuisance in narrow areas back in my pram-pushing days.

The Government have been banging on today about how Councils should look at reducing the number of bollards, signs, bins, benches and other obstacles making our pavements and roads cluttered up.

This monumental monstrosity on the right is by far and away the worst. It appeared after an amazing piece of incompetence by our local Council.

They are also responsible for a plethora of bins and benches but I don't see why anyone would complain about them - I'm completely in favour of less litter and of more places for old people to have a rest.

These combined rubbish ("trash" if you're American) and recycling bins (below) have recently started to appear and I'm all for these too. As a committed petrol ("gas" if you're American) burner, I can feel a bit better about myself when I put my Iceland receipt into one of these.

If the mobile ("cell-phone" if you're American) mast wasn't such a crime, I'd be really annoyed at these signs that appeared all over the Wirral last year...

I dread to think what all that aluminium is worth ("aluminum" if you're American) but in a time of savings and cuts, it can't have been justified. This particular one is particularly an eyesore because it has been placed right outside The Coach and Horses - a fine-looking Mock-Tudor-style public house that always appears on postcards of the village.

So, I am in favour of selective clutter removal, but surely, at cost-cutting time, there must be much bigger priorities. Unless you are going to employ more people specifically to do this - a good left-wing idea but not something I'd have thought this Coalition would be advocating.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

"Not Bad For a Number 2 Driver!"

That's what I'd have said over the pit radio today if I'd been Tom Onslow-Cole in the third BTCC race at Silverstone today.

As usual, the BTCC provided lots of good racing action and thrills and spills (crashes) with Plato and Neal coming together as usual and Plato storming off in anger at the end - very entertaining.

In the first BTCC race of the day, Onslow-Cole was leading from his team-mate Chilton when he pulled out of the way to let Chilton past. This is not unusual in BTCC where you get an extra Championship point for leading the race for a lap so team managers will ask their drivers to swap position for just one lap in order to get the extra point. There are none of the silly rules about team-orders in BTCC that cause annoyance and confusion in F1.

Anyway, you would expect Chilton to make way after that lap for Onslow-Cole again - but he didn't. At the post-race interview, they both came up with a consistent story about Onslow-Cole messing up a gear change so letting Chilton through to avoid a collision while he regained his momentum - honest racing so no need to concede the position. This seemed plausible.

Then, in the second race, Onslow-Cole was leading from his team-mate Chilton when he pulled out of the way to let Chilton past. Hmmmm. Chilton went on to win and a fine bit of barging by Rob Collard knocked Onslow-Cole down to the third step on the podium. This time, they admitted a bit of team orders claiming that Chilton was faster because he had been more cautious early on so his tyres were in better nick.

Race three saw Onslow-Cole take the lead from the popular, very likeable Scouser, Paul O'Neill. Chilton couldn't get past O'Neill, possibly because he was carrying some extra weight (success ballast) or possibly because he isn't as good a driver as Tom Onslow-Cole but this meant that team orders would have been very silly so Onslow-Cole won the race fair and square and should really have won all three.

As previously mentioned, there is nothing actually wrong with team orders in BTCC, but surely it makes more sense to favour the guy doing better in the Championship?

Tom Onslow-Cole is now running second in the Championship and would be a lot closer to the leader, Jason Plato if the team hadn't interfered - so why did they? It's not as though Chilton has a very powerful sponsor is it?

Monday, 16 August 2010

Swan Blames Cat for Drink-Driving

I deliberately spelt "Swann" wrong there to make the title better. The BBC News story is actually about England Cricketer Graeme Swann who claims to have been on the way to Asda to buy some screwdrivers to free his cat which had become trapped under the floorboards of his home. Seems a bit far-fetched to me - last time I took up floorboards they weren't screwed down so I needed a crowbar and one of those bolster chisel thingies and a hammer. And who doesn't already have screwdrivers anyway?

He was a bit unlucky in that he was only just over the limit - 83mg where 80mg is the legal limit but over the limit is over the limit. I guess he can afford fancy lawyers to try and get him off on a technicality - or am I just being cynical?

Anyway, I'll follow this with a tiny bit of interest - and next week, it's George Michael's turn.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Trapped Wind

Sorry, that should read "Renault Wind".Daft name but the car looks quite good. Top Gear magazine and Fifth Gear online have both recently reviewed this car so here's my two cents.

This is a coupe-cabrio with an electric folding metal roof - quite a clever one at that with the roof flipping backwards and getting protected by a metal cover. With the roof in place, it reminds me a bit of the old Lotus Europa of the 1960s with the top of the door sweeping back to the tail of the car - only this car has the roof and decent-sized boot where the Lotus had an engine.

The main competition seems to be the Vauxhall Tigra but this looks a lot more manly - I would be seen dead in this - unlike the Tigra.

With the roof stowed away, the Mazda MX5 comes into play - that car being rear-wheel drive is probably more fun and more traditionally roadster-ish although I wasn't overly impressed when I drove one - give me a MkII Toyota MR2 any day.

The Wind has been developed by RenaultSport on Clio underpinnings but looks suitably different. Engines are a 1.6 or a 1.2 turbo so plenty powerful enough for the class of car it is.

Just a shame about the name. I guess Volkswagen used up all the good wind/breeze names like Scirocco (Hot desert wind), Golf (Gulf-Stream), Jetta (Jet-Stream) and Passat (Trade Winds). That just left the word "wind" itself (flatulence).

Thursday, 5 August 2010

TV Cars - But Not The Obvious Ones

The obvious ones would be The General Lee or KITT or The Striped Tomato (or whatever Starsky's Torino was called) but they are all American. The obvious British ones are a bit more mundane like Delboy's Reliant Regal van or Mr.Bean's Mini but here are a few I like...
This very Vauxhall Victor appeared in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) - a series about a couple of private detectives - one of whom happened to be a ghost. The alive detective, Randall, drove the Victor and was played by Mike Pratt who is now deceased while the deceased detective, Hopkirk, was played by Kenneth Cope who is now alive.

This X-Type was regularly driven by Inspector Barnaby in Midsomer Murders - a series which I've never watched but interests me because of the X-Type - albeit a saloon unlike my own estate version. The estate version was (and may still be - I don't know) a regular in the opening titles of Emmerdale - I haven't watched an episode of that since a plane crashed onto the village and I hadn't watched it before then since Matt Skilbeck had some trouble "int' top field." The X-Type estate also took a starring role in Top Gear when Jeremy ski-ed behind one on an icy country lane.

A white Stag like this one (but not this one because I couldn't find a picture of the actual one) was used in Bellamy's People - a spoof travel around Britain show. The Stag would be my ideal classic car if only I had the time and money to invest.

The Dolomite was my first car - not unfortunately a Sprint - but the vomit yellow 1500 Twin-Carb I had was plenty fast enough for me. This particular example is the one Richard destroyed on Top Gear but the Dolly Sprint also appeared in early programmes of The Professionals but BL used to muck about the Production Company by swapping the colours of the cars they supplied so that screwed up continuity so they moved onto the Capris that most people associate with The Professionals. The Dolomite Sprint is also driven by John Anderson in "The Ancestry Team" - a brilliant comedy drama about two people who run a genealogical detective agency but someone at the BBC didn't think it was suitable material for a comedy so it was never made.

Eddie Shoestring drove a Cortina Mark III estate just like this one - a beautiful car and a brilliant theme tune made the show instantly appealing to a young Metro.

A Viva like this one was driven by Bob in "Whatever Happend To The Likely Lads?" - it was meant to represent middle-class, boring suburbia so would be an Insignia today.

This Beemer was driven by Wayne in the second series of Auf Wiedersehen Pet. Gary Holton, the actor playing Wayne inconveniently died while they were making it so there were lots of shots of the back of his head.

The Volvo was driven by Peter Davison in "A Very Peculiar Practice" - a brilliant comedy drama set in a university at the same time as I was at university. I've always had a soft spot for Volvos and the hilarious script gets this one a mention even though the car had bugger all to do with the show.

Finally, after the Cortina Mark III, we have the Cortina Mark IV - although Van der Valk's car here was in Holland so is, strictly speaking, a Ford Taunus...
Great tune too.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Parking Offensive

Spotted this story on the BBC News Site last week. It came with this picture...For those who think all supercars look the same (and I do have some sympathy with that view, especially looking at this picture) what you have here is a Lamborghini Murcielago parked behind an extremely rare £1.2Million Koenigsegg CCXR.

£120 penalty charge notices were issued for the illegal parking, but the cars were released for £70 each as the fines were paid within 14 days. No mention was made of the crime of painting these cars in that awful shade of turquoise.

A Harrods spokesman said: "Any matters relating to parking tickets and enforcement are strictly the domain of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea." In other words - "It's nothing to do with us - even though we have recently been bought by the Qatari Royal Family." Who, though, could be the owners of these vehicles? - after all, it's not like the Qatari Royal Family have a habit of painting supercars turquoise like this Pagani Zonda they own: