Welcome to the Great British Summer. Don’t forget your glue.
Summer is well and truly upon us. All the characteristics of The Great British Summertime are present – train tracks catching fire, air conditioning breaking down at the airport, people gluing themselves to a variety of objects – roads, buses, The Hay Wain (!) and, of course, plenty of strikes. There has to be a special place in hell reserved for people who decide that in order to make their point about inflation moving faster than their wages, they must destroy everyone’s summer – especially one we’ve been waiting for since 2020.
And just when you thought it was safe to go back on the motorway – the climate protesters have abated – there’s a new bunch of miserabilists protesting at the price of fuel. As if the price of fuel in itself was not harsh enough, we now have to have our journey ruined by people stating the bleedin’ obvious. But I reckon I’ve found a way to get our own back – hit them where it hurts. Maybe we should blockade all the vegan tofu restaurants and yoga retreats, see how they like it? Either way, I hope they’re using organic glue.
Of course, it isn’t just on the roads. I read in the paper about rail staff’s ‘Spanish’ practices – although its not clear quite why the Spanish are being tarred with this particular brush – that include the rule that if at any time your line manager has the temerity to speak to you during your tea break – even if you’re walking back to your desk to work at the time (‘Morning Norris, how’s the missus?’) – you can start the full break all over again. (‘She’s fine, thank you, now I’m going for another coffee’.)
Its like a malaise, that despite trying to blame it on the French or Spanish, is very particular to the British. As a small business man (I’m not small, the company is) I would dearly love to have an inflation-linked pay rise, and so would our staff. Unfortunately, the level of cost increases currently being thrown at us are so staggeringly dramatic – I’m talking more than just fuel costs, its every element of the business – mean that already we’re struggling to see how we can pass the costs on to our clients to protect our margins, and retain their custom. The only consolation is that the playing field is relatively level, and every garage is in the same boat.
Anyway, I called up the bank for some reason and spoke to one of our ‘relationship managers’ (an ironic name if ever there was one) and half way in to the conversation he asked me to hold on. ‘Sorry, just let me get that’. I waited patiently and within only fifteen short minutes he was back. ‘I’ve been waiting for that for days’ he said, clearly relieved. I think it was his Breaking Bad box set, finally arrived. So at least all’s well at Barclays.
But the most remarkable thing about the British, let’s be honest, is just how resilient we are. Government just collapsed? Whatever. World War 3 just started? Bit of a drag. Inflation running at 10%? About time we glued ourselves to something.
To be honest, at Munich Legends, its business as usual. In fact, it’s better than usual. There’s more hunger than ever for restorations, more buyers than ever for those lovely classic Ms – the value of M3 CSLs has risen more than 20 percent in the last year – and more people having their cars fixed. Business hasn’t been this good since Brexit. And its not just us. All our suppliers report bumper sales, higher than ever demand, and despite the rising costs, profits look good, apparently, too. My wife’s business is booming – everyone seems to want to do a European road trip in a super car – and all the hotels and restaurants seem to be full despite hiking up their prices massively since Covid. So, after years of uncertainty, starting with Brexit, into Covid, then ‘the war’, we may be finally able to look to the future, and plan some cool stuff. It starts, for ML, with a return to normality with our Legends in the Fall meet this September (the 7th, for your diary) where we’d like to break attendance records (around 350 in 2019) and see how many complaints we can get in advance from the parish council (always pleasing to have so much support from the local community).
There are some who look at the tea leaves, and maybe a bit at the press, who see ominous similarities with the 70s – talk of seasons of discontent and a return to the misery and chaos of that bizarre decade – but I think we’ve changed, us, the Brits. There are simply too many ambitious, motivated people who want to make something of the time we have here on Earth, a factor that Covid seems to have accelerated. If we’re all going to go down from some mystery virus, or under attack from one of Vlad’s hypersonic missiles, well, might as well be in an M3 CSL. Or sipping a cocktail in the American Bar at the Savoy. I know that the bloke from Barclays will be happy to go surrounded by his BB box set, WFH on his brand-new sofa. Some folks are easier pleased than others.
So, my advice is, live for the day, more than ever before. The hand we’re dealt is the days we spend on this planet – this is our time, whether we like it or not. And if during that time, you haven’t yet driven an M3 CSL, I suggest you rectify that as soon as possible. Maybe at this year’s LitF. That is, of course, if you’re not already glued to the window of your local yoga studio.
Dan Norris, Straight Six Magazine by BMW Car Club GB (August 2022 issue)