Every year, around the time of May, a special motoring industry event is held for the UK’s elite motoring journalists, these pencil pushers are some of the brightest wordsmith’s around. I still have to ask myself, what the hell am I doing amongst them on this day?
Anyway, the event is called the SMMT Test Day, a day like no other on the motoring industry calendar, one event I actually enjoy attending. Imagine going to a Motorshow and being able to drive any of the cars on exhibit, perhaps you get just a brief taste of what this day is all about.
It’s about being given full access to the secretive test facility, Millbrook, in Bedford England. Millbrook is used by major auto manufacturers to test yet unseen cars in complete isolation, it’s with some irony then that this picturesque location is opened up to the ever-prying eyes of motoring hacks. The lunatics are running the asylum, for at least one day.
And as a motoring journalist, you get unique access to drive drudgery and exotica, the Hill Route, City Course, Off Road Section and not to mention the high-speed bowl, a range of driving conditions set in the Beverly Hills of…. Bedford. This isn’t a job, it’s being spoilt by rotten by clinical professionals out to impress a bunch of freeloaders, which is the opposite of professional.
But there are perils to be had on this day, it isn’t the mind-blowing horsepower on offer (or lack of it) it isn’t the inherent dangers of the driving course, which by the way is well managed from a safety point of view. The main danger comes from fellow hacks. Most are good-natured, salt of the earth but some have grandiose, self-righteous, top-dog aspirations.
There I was, talking to a PR Manager, from it doesn’t matter whom, when upon a sudden a fellow hack interrupted my discussion. I initially saw this person, from the corner of my eye, shuffling from a distance and slowly creeping towards my direction. Within ear-shot it happened, looked and sounded as if occurring, frame by frame in slow motion, with a burst of ‘I-AM-SORRY-TO-INTERRUPT’.
Of course this Shropshire-based journalist, who appeared to have a hair style from 1975 and fashion sense from 1982 wasn’t sorry at all like you’re not sorry when you see road kill or when you decide not to watch I’m a Celebrity is on TV. Bloody freeloading journalists.