the story broke some days ago in the evening standard (or, to be accurate, i spotted it in evening standard lite – come on guys, the original is hardly a news titan; just letters from a bloke who doesn’t want black people to have cars because ‘i was at these traffic lights in south london and there was a coloured man in his car and it looked expensive i mean i don’t even know where they get the money from and they all have loads of kids probably on the social bad as travellers if you ask me i’m not a racist but yadda yadda…………’, three old sudoku puzzles and a recipe involving a fish you’ve never heard of that you won’t have time to cook even if you don’t get stuck on the tube for 2 hours on the way home. ‘roll on the olympics’, sez me.)
the story is that the mayor – not the mayor of where you live, or even ken the mayor of london, but the mayor of kensington and chelsea (which can’t be that hard a job, even though it sounds like he has two bits of london to sort – actually, the qualification is to be head of the ruling-in-perpetuity tory group on the council; if you have a funny name like merrick or warwick or two or more surnames it helps – if you don’t believe me, just look up the list of councillors at http://www.rbkc.gov.uk) has bought a new car. it couldn’t be ken the mayor of all of london because he hates cars and goes on the tube like the rest of us. not a perfect human being, but he does at least suffer the public transport network with real people – the patron actually eats in his own restaurant as ’twere).
the car, a bentley, cost £115,000. well it’s a bentley.
well of course.
it’s also a very bad car which puts out ‘5 times the emissions of a prius’. so they wheel out a spokesman (NB the royal borough of kensington and chelsea are not mealy-mouthed bleeding heart liberals; oh no – they pay no dues to political correctness; they have spokesmen and all their committees have chairmen – some of whom, i admit, are women) to make these very relevant points:
we haven’t had a new car for 30 years (and this was really nice and shiny)
we don’t want a scuzzy old prius because it’ll probably be junk in 4-5 years (how i’d love the toyota legal department to get their teeth into that)
we need (really need)(like my 4yr old son really needs a power ranger) a car that reflects the profile and position of the mayor (of kensington and chelsea you remember) – ie a big penis extension for a posh man with rather a small one
all of which means that: we are actually using the council’s money wisely and being good to the environment (no i didn’t get that either).
it does at least have the claim to be the fastest production car with some fantastic topspeed over 100 mph. which isn’t all that useful in the crowded streets of kensington (or chelsea). it will also attract the new higher rate of congestion charge and parking permit charge as levied by the … yes … royal borough of kensington and chelsea to stop people buying silly expensive cars that needlessly pollute the planet. (though see above the bit about really really needing it.)
i am the chair (no chairmen for us you note) of a community nursery in the Royal Borough. we have letters from madonna’s mother-in-law who runs the provision of things like nurseries in the borough saying we are really really good (so it must be true); we cater for a socially diverse mix of children from working parents (many single parents) and target those on low incomes. in the good old days we had all of our funding from the borough – now we get a certain amount every so often which is used to keep fees affordable for those working parents. maybe 15-20k last year. the day i read this heart-warming story, i had a meeting with the new civil servant in charge of whatever business they deem looking after children to be (everything is in a business group for the borough – terribly gradgrindian) who informed us we probably wouldn’t be getting any money any longer. no real reason, we just wouldn’t. she did tell us we would in the future get free tickets every friday night when they close off a circuit of roads around the central library and council building so our poor wee bairns can watch mayor bidswick blitherington-browne chuck a few laps round it at 115mph or whatever the car does. they will also be allowed to tip their caps and shout ‘gawdblessee guv’nor’ as he whooshes by in a smog of greenhouse gases.
okay – i lied about the last bit. still; not particularly helpful, is it?