Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Rubber Hits the Road

Our son turned 21 last December but it was only last weekend that he enjoyed our birthday present to him in actuality rather than in anticipation. Although the glories of this particularly splendid autumn are now fading, it was pleasant weather and golden colours that buoyed our spirits when we took him and our daughter-in-law to the racing circuit at Thruxton, just to the west of Andover, last Saturday.

We had bought him a “driving experience”. We thought it would make a change from something of the more tangible kind although the distinction between experiential and tangible is looking increasingly thin the more I think about it. Here are some moments from the day.

After a 30-minute briefing about the track and how to take corners, followed by a circuit as a passenger, our son gets into the driving seat of a Porsche Carrera, a family first.
The rubber hitting the road on one of four laps.
Thruxton also offers rides in Peugeots like these. It is the fastest circuit in the country, we were told.
Offspring also got four laps in this Ferrari, which Thruxton is phasing out as it is rather venerable, although much loved.
I think it was at this point that I went green with envy.
We watched proceedings from this platform. The building next to it has a blue plaque stating that it is of historic interest. The circuit is based on the perimeter road of a wartime airfield. The airfield is still in action for light aviation and small aircraft were taking off over our heads throughout our time there.
While this was going on and through the ensuing week the rubber was hitting the road for the European Community, in particular the Eurozone, in particular Greece. The global economic system is such that none of us is untouched by the implications of the specific crisis with the Greek economy; after all the Chinese are being asked to lend a hand, or rather more money than a balanced mind not high on intoxicants can imagine. I have watched events unfold on the European stage with more fascination than that space normally affords and have felt at times as if the UK could get seriously sidelined if we do not play our cards right. I say “we”, but the EU is of course where any notion of direct democracy and influence by common people gets stretched to and beyond its limit – just look what it’s doing to my metaphors. Nearly 100 years ago power struggles took the whole continent to war and once again the juggernauts of conflicting interest are crashing into one another. Surely we will never go to war within Europe again, but there could be more violence in individual countries. Furthermore our economy will take a colossal bashing if there is failure by any European country to meet its obligations, as the City of London is the leading world market for credit default swaps, which few understand but which sound particularly noxious.

On a personal level I am limbering up to face again a matter that I hoped had been put to rest a few months ago. I am currently signed off work, but my good friend and employer, Father Milligan, told me on Friday that he needs to pick my brains on the vexed matter of the office’s photocopier leasing contract. If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know just how much I relish that prospect [irony alert].

Time to de-stress and stroke the cat.

The aforesaid Smudge, photographed yesterday on her favourite bar stool, from which she can survey the whole kitchen.
I love the way cats tuck their paws in when they relax.

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