I can’t be the only one, most men have all felt it at one time or another. FA Cup final, resplendent in Arsenal shirt but somehow ticketed into the Hull end, half time, three pints of mild desperate to drain from the sump. Squeezing between two tattooed Tigers, addressing the trough. Wait for it…. Wait for it… Nothing. Stage fright, the creeping consciousness that you are outclassed, outgunned.
And so it is every morning as I descend the concrete ramp into the bowels of the bank in Canary Wharf. Shuffling a little Citroen into its spot between Ray Winston and Al Pacino, navy blue Bentley Continental and gunmental grey Ferrari FF, opposite the M5, a vulture sinister under hooded eyelids. The guardians of this 1,500bhp triumvirate arrive each day at 7’oclock sharp, casting an intimidating shadow.
I too should arrive at 7 o’clock sharp, but flushed with inadequacy, I avoid it. How to wave a cheery good morning when we he knows the triple in the C1 cannot even muster a full litre, barely qualifying for starter motor duty on his W12? How to to make Investment Banking small talk when the four castors on each corner of my Shitroen are smaller than the carbon discs on his M5? Can I look a man in the eye who’s fitted FF luggage is an option priced at double the list price of the C1? Not FF likely.
A dozen baritone bazookas intimidate the warbled castrato, the Citroen’s discomfort palpable, urinal fear by proxy. I choose to avoid the ignominy of morning pleasantries altogether and arrive late for work most days.
So why the automotive Da Vinci cilice? Is ownership worth being dismissed so by those masters of the universe? And is it hurting my promotion prospects? Well probably yes, and here are three diet-coke-can-sized-cylinder reasons:
Old Money Whispers, New Money Shouts... London is awash with new money, an exact correlation in place between how easily the funds were obtained and how large a foghorn the patron requires to advertise the fact. The reference points we have used as enthusiasts have been corrupted by this asymmetry. The stately Range Rover more often than not debauched in triple black crystal-meth spec, hell, even my brother’s new Vogue sits atop spinners from an A380. At the side door of Harrods matt-black Phantoms jostle with underlay-wrapped Ferraris and Bacofoil-basted Aventadors. The ignominy of the patrician S-class relegated to turning right upon boarding, now only a tool for a polyester suit plying his trade between Canada Square and Terminal 5. You and I cannot win this arms race, so reverse the snobbery, apply Roosevelt’s motto: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Speak softly and carry a big stick… I would concede without sufferance that a 998cc triple is not a big stick. But even a puppy can draw blood. Simply put, no other road user expects such a plebian ride to be steered with quite such gusto. Only Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility could rival Donato Coco’s masterpiece of utility. The Frog inspires no anger, no jealousy, no hatred, just a raised eyebrow and mild incredulity when settled into a Costa Concordia list for a balletic understeer around the Aldywch. London cabbie in his TX5 Shenzen edition can be relied upon to slow his overpriced hackney to accommodate a cheeky indicator from bus lane to front of queue, the neonatal face drawing the minimum of spittle and histrionics, even from the lycra clad and carbon chassied peloton. A previous Wharf wafter was a C63AMG, and yet the tin snail has knocked a full 8 minutes off the Hampstead High Street to Canary Wharf Bank Street fastest lap. At any price there is no faster way from NW3 to E14.
At any price there is no faster way from NW3 to E14… What if it were at almost no price? An iPhone contract will deduct £45 a month from your net-worth, your daily flat white dry extra shot latte at least the same. So you would be as surprised as I was to discover that a C1 could be leased for a mere £42 a month. A monkey up front, another ton for insurance, and its game on. Small fixed costs up front, thank-the-banking-crisis low interest rates interpolate into low lease rates, and a spanking new tin frog is on the driveway. Fill it up only when Arsenal win away, HMRC will wave the road tax as she doesn’t smoke, and you have a car for about the same as 20 Benson & Hedges a week (plus matches & chewing gum as your wife knows you stopped smoking two years ago).
Downsides? Only one. I bought a new pair of Church’s to look smart around the Wharf. 1,250 gearchanges a day and the left one has a hole clean through the sole. Church’s will only repair both at a time, and that’s £90. Or two months motoring…