This weekend sees our editor in-chief in celebratory mood…
I’m pleased to inform our regular readers that no hats were lost in the creation of this article. However, what millinery there was to hand has been at least metaphorically cast skywards in honour of my erstwhile fellow-DTW antagonist’s departure earlier this week across the Irish Sea. He means well, but our Mr. Doyle I find, is best appreciated from the distance of several hundred nautical miles.
But let us not become bogged down with indecorous matters of DTW housekeeping.
Today’s enforced topic of discussion is the Mini – or I should probably say, MINI, which our Bavarian cousins insist upon for reasons best known to themselves. Lacking experience of the reconstituted variant (I forswore car launches some years previously), I can only offer my recollections of dear Alec’s leaky vessel, the original, (uncapitalised) Austin Se7en.
The MoD Military Vehicles and Engineering Establishment at Chobham, was the location to which a chattering of assembled rotters assembled at the behest of the British Motor Corporation in August 1959. There had been mutterings for some time that BMC had something notable up their sleeves, but few were expecting what appeared.
We would become inured to this sort of thing later on, but bemused scarcely described the combined corps’ reaction when presented with this curious device. Alec was on hand of course, pouring forth charm and bonhomie, but one could discern the fear in the back of the eyes.
As I recall, I was paired with the estimable Archie Vicar, who liberally availed himself of refreshments and consequently expressed no desire whatsoever to take the wheel. We had a marvellous time, ripping about the place with giddy abandon. Archie, sleeping peacefully throughout, nevertheless conspired to get through three entire packs of Craven A. I still haven’t quite worked out how.
Deluged with praise from the assembled corps, Alec was delighted with the car’s reception, but his expansive mood quickly soured as amid the chattering he overheard Mr. Vicar’s sotto-voce denunciation (Alec had acutely sharp hearing) of the positioning, capacity and suitability of the little Austin’s ashtray provision; Archie wondering aloud as to whether the oversized door bins had been designed expressly for this very eventuality.
Alec was in paroxysms. It was rather amusing really – because he rather haughtily refused to speak to anyone who lacked an engineering degree, he could neither blank him nor refute him. Poor Alec – he was in possession of many fine qualities but forgiveness wasn’t one of them. Especially once Archie reviewed the car in print for, (if I recall), ‘The Occasional Motorist’, describing the Austin as ‘about as amusing as a distemperate terrier’. His ticket to Siberia had a distinctly one-way odour…
But I digress. Today’s re-issue features young Doyle’s 2015 assessment of BMW’s latter-day MINI re-enactment – a more watertight proposition, I’m reliably informed.
Biting the hand that feeds you is something of a delicate profession, albeit one at which I have never became entirely adept. I do hope our fellow scribe enjoys the charms of the Irish bus services however, because, if nothing else, his review stands as an object lesson in the sanctity of gratitude and good grace.
With only one further piece between myself and liberty, my valise is packed and the taxi awaits at the door. My duties almost fulfilled, I too will shortly take my leave…