Is there an age at which a man loses his dignity by driving a Ferrari?
Not at all. Ferraris are unimpeachably stylish and are a joy forever to drive, for any driver of any age. In my younger days I yearned to drive one and would be filled with jealousy at anyone who actually owned a Daytona, especially if convertible, or a 400i or 456. I would fall in love every time I saw one, like a birdwatcher seeing a Christmas Island frigatebird. The beautiful chassis were crafted by Pininfarina, founded by Signor Pinin Farina, who impressed Signor Enzo Ferrari enough for them to have joined forces in making many Ferrari models. It takes a genius to spot another genius — like Mendelssohn spotting Bach.
The paradox about Farina, who was the best car designer in the world, is that he invented the first wind tunnel for cars, in order to improve the contours of a design to ensure minimal drag. Yet the wind tunnel is now the reason why most modern cars look similar because every unimaginative car manufacturer simply wants the best aerodynamics, so they just follow the usual streamlines. It is high time for designers to accept a bit of drag, or even a lot of drag, in return for more interesting lines. I am pining to see innovative designs with proper curves and sexy profiles, which would do for car design what Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid did for architecture. And bring back interior luxuries from the old models, with elegant dashboards that do not feature a panel of dials more fitting for a rocket station, and proper fragrant leather for softer, rather than harder, seats.
It is no different with modern Ferraris. For me, the latest designs have lost a lot of their desirability. They look flashy and ostentatious, fussy with spoilers and hidden vents, and some painted in fluorescent colours that would have satisfied Liberace, not that he would have managed to crouch into a low-lying model. Look at the current FF, Ferrari’s first four-wheel drive. The back of it is truncated and the whole body looks like Quasimodo. Mind you, I harbour a secret desire to drive the FF off road on to a grouse moor and see how soon it becomes unstuck, or rather stuck in the mud, and how much mobbing it would attract.
It is shocking that British Airways doesn’t offer free copies of The Guardian to travellers. Is this not an unforgivable act of political bias?
I mean no disrespect, for I am a huge fan and loyal supporter of BA, having been on its advisory panel for years, but I doubt those in charge of placing newspapers on aircraft would make their selections on the basis of political balance. I suspect the choice is made purely on expediency, ie whatever newspapers are prepared to give their editions away free, and, more importantly, arrange timely deliveries. It is not surprising, therefore, that what is on offer is sporadic: sometimes I see The Times, other times the Telegraph and the Mirror. Their appearances are capricious, just like the magazines offered in flight. Sometimes you get 50 copies of The Spectator, and nothing else, or one copy of The Economist, or two copies of Vogue, or three copies of House & Garden. It is a pity that these soft services are not handled by those who understand the value of providing decent reading material, other than the rather dull BA in-house magazine and the wretched shopping catalogue. Getting a consistent and reliable supply from a good cross section of current publications is precisely the kind of detail that BA ought to pay more attention to, for it is always reliability and dependability that builds up the reputation of a brand.
I felt certain that you were going to discover the old aphorism of American divorce lawyers: 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce; the other 50 per cent end in death.
Not exactly a happy proposition. It reminds me of the story of the woman who consulted a gypsy clairvoyant. Looking into her crystal ball, the gypsy looked alarmed and reluctantly warned the woman that her husband would soon die a violent death. The woman then asked if the gypsy could gaze further into her crystal ball and tell her if she would be acquitted.
Talking of death, a very old friend of mine aged 89 told me one day that he was marrying someone aged 25. I was astonished by the age gap and asked how he had managed to persuade someone so much younger to marry him. “I told her I was 98,” he replied.
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