Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Telegraph Road

Another bloke from The Telegraph is learning to drive.

His name is Tom Rowley.
Now I realise that looks like Una Stubbs - but that is the first picture that came up when I typed "Tom Rowley Telegraph" into Google Images.  This is what he really looks like: 
(the bloke in the glasses not the little creature on his arm)
Any road up, I found this story in the Telegraph motoring section.  It follows on from one earlier in the week about Noel Gaughan, the driving instructor to the stars (as opposed to Nick Freeman, the motoring lawyer to the stars).
So far, Noel has taught:
  • Adele who I have heard of
  • Niall Horan who I hadn't heard of but is from from the boy band One Direction who I unfortunately have heard of.
  • James McAvoy - Yes
  • Mika - Yes
  • Gemma Arterton - Yes
  • Christina Chong - Nope
  • Rhys Ifans - Yes
  • Lara Stone - a model apparently, not the girl from Tomb Raider
  • Pixie Geldof - Yuk
He also claims not to know who they all are.
He also didn't know who Tom Rowley is.
But he does now - he's giving him a one-week crash-course to pass his test.  I love that phrase when applied to driving lessons.
I don't know if we'll find out how Tom got on.  I say that because the adventures of Ed Cummings fizzled out after just three articles (at least that was all I ever found) - Ed being the other Telegraph bloke I hinted at before.  I covered Ed's story last December.
I wonder if he passed, or just ended up in Dire Straits.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Mutually Beneficial

The BBC should become the UK's biggest mutual company to make it more accountable to licence fee payers - so says former culture secretary Dame Tessa Jowell.  The BBC report it here.

Mutual companies do not have external shareholders but all members of the company are considered owners. Money is reinvested back into the company rather than paid out as dividends.

I would like to be a member of the BBC.

If I was a member of the BBC, I might have had a say in the disposal of the F1 rights which led me to declare that I'd had it with the BBC.

I might also have a say in commissioning a new motoring show for BBC2.

But, I hear you say, BBC2 already has a brilliant motoring show called "Top Gear."

I agree - it does.  In fact Top Gear is my favourite show of any genre on television - it's even better than QI.

But I also want a show that is a bit more about the cars themselves - and accessories and racing and motoring law - and the sort of things you might read about on a car blog named after a small car from British Leyland.  I've been watching a couple of the old Top Gears from the '80s and '90s on Youtube and I want a show like that.  Or like Channel 4's Driven before they made it juvenile.

It would have to be on the BBC for two reasons:
  1. Impartiality - they mustn't be afraid of upsetting motoring manufacturers who could sponsor them - allegedly Toyota refused to let Jeremy Clarkson test-drive any more of their cars after he called the Corolla "dull" in a review.
  2. Profitability - I don't believe that enough people watch ordinary car programmes to make then viable commercially.  This leads to daft competitions that cost £1.50 to enter and added contrived "entertainment" like they put in the otherwise enjoyable Classic Car Rescue - this can be really cringeworthy to watch but seems to draw in the viewers.
The new show would be called "Second Gear" (or "Fourth Gear" if they showed it on BBC Four) and would need some decent presenters.  Definitely not the ones from "I Want That Car" - my review of which has garnered a very large number of hits for some reason - no comments, just hits.

I liked the old Top Gear presenters, Sue Baker, Chris Goffey and William Woollard so wouldn't object to any of them coming back although dare I say they are probably a bit long in the tooth nowadays?  William Woollard's style with a foot on the bumper of the car he was discussing has led to an Internet craze which had passed me by until I read this from the Metro newspaper (no relation).
But the lineup I'd probably plump for would be former Driven host Mike Brewer as the front man assuming I could prise him away from The Discovery Channel. I've got a leather jacket just like that by the way: 
Maybe Jason Dawe (Used Car Roadshow and series 1 of the revamped Top Gear before they decided James May would be a better fit) for the more serious, practical items:
Tom Ford (ex of Fifth Gear and still of TopGear Magazine) for road tests: 
And Sabine Schmitz for the racy stuff:
A half an hour show every Thursday evening.  Just before "Dave Allen at Large."  Sorted.
Oh, and can we have "Gardener's World" followed by "One Man and His Dog" on a Friday again please?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Driven to Drink

Is it really 10 years since Alastair Stewart was sacked as presenter of Police Camera Action after being caught drink-driving?


Nobody should drink-drive - but most people convicted will quietly go to Court, get fined and banned and quietly go away without anyone really noticing.

Some people though, like Alistair, may just attract a bit of attention.

The woman in this story for example.  She is a lawyer, who, according to her own firm's Website, "has a vast knowledge in relation to the offence of Drink Driving. She has won many cases using the many procedural defences available that can arise if the police fail to deal with clients at the roadside and/or in the police station correctly."  I've cut-and-pasted that directly from the site because I wouldn't be surprised if they change that bit soon.

Maybe she should have defended herself.

Or paid for this bloke.  Yes, I know that's a Wikipedia link but, today at least, everything seems to check out in it.  Nick Freeman - aka Mr.Loophole ("Mr Whiplash" would be funnier) is fairly famous for getting celebrities (including Jeremy Clarkson & Tiff Needell) cleared of motoring offences - often on technicalities.  I'm put off lawyers at the best of times - possibly because of the annoying multitude of injury lawyer adverts encouraging people to sue for the stupidest of things - there's one where a workman says "my company gave me the wrong sort of ladder" - well you should know the difference you moron.  I also object to my motor insurance premium increasing to pay for fictitious whiplash claims - I could have made one myself last year when I was rear-ended but I won't because I'm basically honest.

So, what's the moral of all this?

Don't drink and drive.

Unless you're somewhere safe and outside the jurisdiction of the law.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

I Want That Car

The second episode of I Want That Car was broadcast on ITV4 last night. 
It is ITV's new "Daisybeck Productions give you a male motoring journo & female racer presenting a show giving punters a choice of 3 cars to buy and after test-driving 2 of them they have to select one to purchase while telling you a bit about them and trying to get a good deal off the unseen seller while the car's number plate is covered with the initials of the programme" show.
I watched the first one last week and found it irritating but decided to give it another go.
This week, I still found it irritating.
It could be the music.
It could be the fact they go to a racing circuit to do the show while racing is going on but just show little clips of the same racing cars over and over again in the middle of the main element of the show.
But I think it's probably the presenters. 
Rebecca Jackson makes big deal of how she is a used car expert (a saleswoman perhaps? - after I suggested they may not exist - no, an "expert" - although judging by her own website, she's only sold one car) and how she races Porsche Boxsters - but she only looks 15 - and she and the cameraman refuse to stand still when she is doing her pieces to camera.  And she's overly enthusiastic.

Mat Watson, meanwhile, works for Auto Express.
He comes over as too chummy and his Brummie accent keeps slipping in and out.  He likes the punters to "floor it" on the test drives and then states that they didn't go over the speed limits.  I wonder if the producer was involved in making that statement.
At this point, I suppose, I'd have to admit that I'd be crap at presenting a motoring show, especially if I was an unknown - I'd feel awkward pretending that everyone should just accept me straight off and at least these two do have the right professional backgrounds.
But I'm not presenting a motoring show and they are.
The show doesn't even have its own Website.  The nearest is this which is really looking for people to take part in it.  They do have a Facebook page which doesn't have many contributions apart from themselves looking for people to take part.  The couple of people who have commented are mixed on the show but one person thinks it is better than Top Gear - idiot!
They also have a Twitter feed which doesn't have many contributions apart from themselves looking for people to take part. The couple of people who have commented are a bit pro the show but one person thinks it is better than Top Gear - idiot!
The first show consisted of a bloke who used to own a Lotus (we don't know what happened to it) looking for a suitable sporty replacement - he is offered a TT, an Abarth (sporty Fiat 500) and a Porsche Boxster - he chooses the Porsche.
The second show consisted of a bloke after a classic.  He is offered a Mini, an MGB and a Porsche 911 Carrera Targa - he chooses the Porsche.

Actually, I think I've worked out what irritates me the most, and why I probably won't bother watching the rest of the series - it is because it isn't Used Car Roadshow.  If you aren't sure what Used Car Roadshow was, it was ITV's "Daisybeck Productions give you a male motoring journo & female racer presenting a show giving punters a choice of 3 cars to buy and after test-driving 2 of them they have to select one to purchase while telling you a bit about them and trying to get a good deal off the unseen seller while the car's number plate is covered with the initials of the programme" show.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Patently Daft

This story from tells us that Google has applied for a patent on gesture-based car controls.  Their proposed system relies on both a ceiling-mounted depth camera and a laser scanner to trigger actions based on an occupant's hand positions and movements.
Examples they cite are: Swipe near the window and you'll roll it down; point to the radio and you'll turn the volume up.

Examples they don't cite are: Wave both arms in the air and you'll crash; give a one-finger salute to a Police vehicle that is following you and you'll get arrested.

Apparently, Google has acquired a motion control company so they will be looking for uses for it.

I'm not convinced this is the best one.

Voice-activated controls are improving so that they are actually usable now, combining them with this may actually make it more dangerous to be in a car - what if a nervous passenger finds a spider in the car?

Besides, Google are also developing their driverless cars so none of this should be needed.

As ever, I do enjoy reading the comments at the bottom of online articles - this one produced some good ones:

Examples I cite are NewGawker, who states "This won't work in Italy" and my personal favourite, fsmarin who, on seeing the picture above asks, "Why is a monkey driving a bus?"