An old friend reappears. Well, of sorts…
Hi there. The name’s Dieter Ogley. Born in Heidelberg, well, just outside at Boxberg but raised in Barnsley, South Yorkshire from the age of twelve. My mother was a nurse at the local hospital, whereas my dad was a mining engineer who was offered a job in the then thriving coal business in Barnsley.
This meant leaving our German roots and coming over to England, since the job offered dad a whole new world underground to explore. But then the big strike happened and the work dried up. Mining became a forgotten venture; it still occurred but with only so many jobs to go round, it was hard to find one. And with a surname like Schwarzkopf, we didn’t exactly blend in.
So we changed our surname and tried to blend. It worked. Mum got a good nursing job at Barnsley Hospital. Dad had to move on and found work in local garages before hitting the big time with a local Merc dealer. And then life changed again. I left school and attended the local college. Having fluent German in a traditional Yorkshire mining town was grossly underused.
But on hearing through dad’s garage that Mercedes were looking for a doppelganger for their new design chief, for times when he would be ‘otherwise engaged‘ I leapt at the chance. So that’s my role these days. I have to dress like, sound like and act like Gorden when the need arises. Which is quite frequently given that he’s based in California and always seems to be off in some exotic location for a car launch or an important interview with the world’s press. Or he’s ‘in the zone‘ getting all Sensual Purity©, like.
The training was intense. I not only had to look like Gorden but mimic his actions, his intonations. The language was the easy part. I had to return to being German and take an unprecedented dip into the world of a global car designer. Not exactly straightforward, when you’ve been in Northern England for the best part of twenty years and all you have to go on are videos and pictures of him.
Here you find me at the side of a quarter scale car model. I’d only gone and left my tie back home, so it was panic stations. One of the production lads had this lemon number in his gym bag, of all things. Did the job. I had my script and the obligatory camera smile and then had to jet off to HQ for the next shot. One helluva day. Left Barnsley at 3am, Düsseldorf by ten thirty and Stuttgart-Untertürkheim for half four that afternoon. Knackered.
The real Gorden was far, far away. Dubai I believe and a picture was required for something like a report or PowerPoint jobby. What they took was mortifyingly, wince-making anti-drama. At least make up had found me a decent tie but my expression and body language seem to be avoiding thrown objects: at speed. Maybe it was the early start, maybe I was taken off guard by being told to look natural, I don’t know, but the powers that be liked it so fair do’s.
This next one is very natural, not composed at all. With Gorden back at Carlsbad in some high level meeting, I was captured listening to the football results from back home where Barnsley were in the FA Cup and had just scored. They lost the game 2-1 but I was very emotional for about thirty five minutes and this interview I had to give was about one of the bigger cars, don’t remember exactly which. Haven’t a clue to what all these W numbers are. And no, that’s not a tattoo. It’s a sticker I place there which the press adore. Gives Gorden a human side.
Here I’m in a coffee shop, in one of the factories. I was given this stone and asked to look at it from a designers point of view. Well, I’d been out with some of the lads the night before and didn’t know my arse from my elbow by this ungodly hour. What the hell do I do with this? The photographer commented I’d pulled it off, which came as a surprise, I can tell you. The rest of the day was spent in a darkened room.
And this shot is from the clay shaping area. I love to watch them in here. It’s the Asian guy’s birthday and it was him they meant the custard pie for but it was ole Dieter here that got a face full. Luckily the camera folk missed it for laughing so much. We all thought it hilarious. I’d kinda seen the custard pie from the corner of my eye but was in full concentration mode which made it all the better. Great fun that day.
And that’s just a part of my role.
I get to open things like new parts of factories and have fancy lunches at posh do’s, mainly in Germany. But there’s school lectures, football trips (always good!) and some of the best beer and wine on offer. He knows about me apparently but doesn’t get close due to him being The Blessed One. He allegedly has a terrible aversion to burnt toast, doesn’t like his ironing skills being brought into question, nor the fact that he’s rubbish on Gran Turismo. Odd lad, our Gorden. Never met him and not sure I’m missing much to be honest.
The money is good but the travelling can wear you down a bit and I’m not too bothered about the car side of things, to be perfectly honest. But it’s the fun side I love. Just a shame you don’t always get to see it.