Motorsport May 2009
Strangely enough I really like (other peoples) weddings, even better if itís second or third time around. I love the triumph of hope over experience; it says something of the human condition that we can be so easily persuaded that this time it will be different.† I think Iím hitting my mid life crisis, I thought it would be in my mid 30ís, half way through my three score and ten, but it seems to have come half way through my working life. Iíve now got just about as long left to exert my influence on the world as Iíve already had learning how it functions. Why a crisis? Because I hope (that word again) in the second half I can use my experience to build a better future for everyone in my sphere of influence, unfortunately that same experience tells me I would do better to concentrate on making sure Iím ok. Donít forget though I am not one of the ďmeĒ generation.†
Iím one of ďThatcherís childrenĒ caught up in the political revolution that re-defined
the social contract between the citizen and the state, greater individual freedom, less state ownership and a privatised future (not though a privatised NHS, coal industry or rail service that came with Major and Blair). This change was a triumph of political will recognising the mechanisms of government, the civil service, would always suffocate change unless the political leader was strong. Change brought with it a genuine belief in the future and a respect for politicians of all persuasions who showed integrity and rigour in the way they argued their ideology. Perhaps I was just young! As basic Thatcherite theory was carried forward by Major and then Blair it didnít bring less state control though, over the last 30 years we have increasingly been subject to more rules and more civil servants to administer them. Computers monitor every area of our lives, CCTV cameras watch our movements and with number plate recognition technology instantly fine transgressors, does it make us more law abiding? Politicians have gone back to blaming the system, ďsystemic failureĒ from child protection, NHS computerisation to the latest ďExpense gateĒ fiasco. The system isnít a divine gift itís a creation of politicians and politicians are a creation of the people, itís our fault!
We are all human, with all the frailties and imperfections of humanity, we have to use our moral compass to navigate and accept there will be failures, we donít check our pensions or bank accounts, we give in to temptation, why do you think religion includes forgiveness? If it didnít it would not survive. Itís no different for those in power and we know it, we know some MPs will be having affairs, some will be taking bribes, some will be enjoying first class travel on the public purse and some will be doing those terrible things and a good job for their constituents. What we need though is morals and integrity not rules, provide a system (with increasing administrative costs) and complying to the letter of the rules rather than the health of society becomes a perverse game, everything hangs on the 11th commandment ďthou shalt not get caughtĒ. Welcome to the 21st century. So thereís the problem with so many rules running a business becomes an exercise in not getting caught, which is not the same as doing the right thing, in an Orwellian society where is the freedom to create a better future?
Just as there are no perfect citizens there are no perfect cars, some are very good, some are perfect in narrowly defined areas of ability. A type 35B Bugatti is a great racing car; itís also an acceptable touring car if you accept the lack of luggage capacity. The type 44 is a great touring car but too low to be a competent trials car. You have to make judgements on what can you accept and then live with it, when deciding donít focus on the best of traits though or things that are easily changed, pink leather with white piping, that array of instruments fitted in 1950 by the ex pilot who couldnít cope with just an oil pressure gauge and a rev counter. Focus on the genuine faults. Itís those faults you will be living with as long as you own the car but itís also those faults which enrich the experience, how many times have you heard Volkswagens or Audis described as soulless whereas an Alfa Romeo is characterised as typically Italian. This may not be the modern way, when faced with imperfection ďletís change itĒ seems to be the mantra but with this search for perfection something is lost. You canít fit synchromesh or dog boxes to a car that had a crash box without losing some of its character, power steering, air conditioning; well you get the point.†
It seems to me that perfection is a problem, and while we demand it we will always find feet of clay. The media donít help - every day magazine headlines promise (mainly women) the perfect match, the perfect day the perfect everything from health to orgasms. I stopped looking for perfection a long time ago, in fact itís the flaws in most things or people that make them so attractive, so in an imperfect world of imperfect people perhaps there is hope after all.
P.S next time Iíll go back to the story of the girl with the Type 35C.