Disaster! Wednesday’s driving job was cancelled late Tuesday afternoon which meant I had to spend TWO days decorating (I had already reserved Thursday as a day to reluctantly face up to my adult, home-owning responsibilities). We’re only re-decorating the hall which is the size of a matchbox so the good news is that it will only take us about three weeks (we are not the world’s quickest). For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to put coving up. How hard could it be to cove the inside of a matchbox? With all the predictability of an episode of Doc Martin, of course it turned out to be a lot harder than we imagined. Our house was built before right angles had been invented – intrepid inventors, Aubrey and Wilma Right only adding a ninetieth degree to a protractor for the first time in 1927, thus giving humankind the Right Angle a year after our house was constructed. And, after offering up the coving to the walls, it seems straight lines were pretty rare in those days too. So strips of elegant coving were tacked to the walls with more pins than you would find in a tailor’s dummy, since glue alone would not allow the coving to make contact with the wall at more than two points. In the corners, each strip of coving waved to its distance neighbour, as if across the Bering Strait until finally united by that interior pack ice, Polyfilla. A tip for inexperienced coving putter uppers: after you have finished re-decorating, buy a luridly coloured carpet or rug for your newly smart and tasteful room thus drawing people’s eyes downwards rather than up. What a palaver decorating is. Believe me, having to get up at 5.30am for a 6 o’clock pick-up on Friday, getting taken in the dark to a desolate airfield in Warwickshire to then drive a van to Nottingham was sheer bliss (truly, I genuinely enjoyed it). And what about Tuesday, that was a bumper day:-
Monday: Audi A1 Sport 1.4TFSI (125hp), Syston, Leicestershire to Stourbridge, Worcestershire. Bentley Mulsanne Speed (2015), Stourbridge to Syston. Peugeot 2008 Active 1.2T Puretech (82hp), Syston to Derby and back
Tuesday: Peugeot 2008 Active 1.2T Puretech (82hp), Syston to Northampton. Bentley Bentayga W12, Northampton to Syston. Bentley Continental GT Speed W12 (2009), 40 mile test run & Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 (2014), 50 mile test run to there and back. Bentley Continental GT V8S (2016), Syston to Newark. Audi A1 Sport 1.4TFSI (125hp), Newark to Syston.
Friday: Ford Transit Connect, Stratford-Upon-Avon to Nottingham.
So, Tuesday. I was working for the service department at the Leicester Bentley/ Lamborghini dealer. While grabbing a quick sandwich and cup of tea wondering what was up next, a set of keys was dangled in front of me. “Can you take this Aventador up to Gunthorpe and back.” Why? Who cared! Mine not to reason why, mine but to do and drive.
Outside I went, where the outrageous piece of automotive excess sat brooding. Another 700hp starship, this time with a 6.5 litre V12. In almost matt black, there was more than a touch of the Batmobile about it. Open the scissor door and clamber in. Glance round the cockpit to locate all the important bits and assess the potential for coving (fortunately, none). Inside, there was a distinct similarity to the Aventador’s little brother, the Huracan which I had driven before. However, the Aventador did have conventional stalks for the indicators and wipers instead of the Huracan’s sliding switches on the steering wheel. Also, the Aventador’s seat was a little less snug in the lateral department for my
lithe, athletic rake-like form but this is a car for proper grown-ups. Sliding a steak and kidney pie down one side and a doughnut down the other would have sorted things but may have been a little bit Lionel*. Like the Huracan, there was no gear selector with the usual choice of P-R-N-D, instead just two buttons “R” and “M” and an electronic parking brake. There was also the same style of nuclear button hidden under a red safety cover.
Almost ready then – just adjust the mirrors and write my will. Adjusting the mirrors was of dubious value because the wing mirrors couldn’t see much past the Batmobile’s high and wide hips (all muscle – no doughnuts or pies) and the rear view mirror peered through a very shallow rear window at a large wing. Now, flip red safety cover up, HIT THE NUCLEAR BUTTON AND ….. nothing. Another difference between the Aventador and Huracan is the position of the pedals. The Aventador’s are so far over to the left that driving pleasures could be shared your passenger. How jolly considerate of the Lamborghini designers. Anyway, making a mental note to keep my right foot well over to the left when braking to prevent embarrassment (and early reading of the will), I tried again – this time with foot on brake. All hell broke loose. I’d swear that the engine, situated immediately behind my ears, actually gave its ear-splitting bark not once but twice.
So, flip the right flappy paddle into first, gently squeeze the loud pedal and off I bumbled out of the dealership. With the all-black interior and slitty windows, I felt I was driving the world’s fastest (and lowest) letterbox. And feeling every single bump and pimple on the road’s surface (and some that probably weren’t there at all), it was apparently a letterbox with octagonal wheels and powered by screaming harpies. I chugged a few hundred yards round the corner to the local petrol station letting the gearbox do its own thing while I got used to the car. Then I had to climb out at the pumps trying to look as casual as possible but feeling very self-conscious. Why was everyone staring? Check flies and carry on. Anyway, I splashed in twenty quids worth of unleaded as instructed and went to collect my Nectar points. Yes, I was getting paid for driving a Lamborghini Aventador and I got Nectar points. Does life get any better?
Now, the real business began. After starting the engine (foot on correct pedal), I hit the “M” (manual) button and played tunes on the flappy paddles all by myself. My route for the fifty mile run wasn’t very inspiring – negotiate about three roundabouts, then straight up the A46 dual carriageway into Nottinghamshire …. and back again. So, in the established Cars with a Side of Couscous tradition, I can tell you what it is like to drive in straight lines (and only at roughly legal speeds). But I’m not complaining! Accelerating away from a set of traffic lights, seventy was reached in what seemed like the blink of an eye and other cars were left far behind (at least I think they were, but the rearward view was limited). By magic, those octagonal wheels became more or less round although the suspension still provided less give than Scrooge. And the road noise was colossal, particularly on a long stretch of concreted A46 when I thought Brian Blessed must be sitting next to me – yodelling (actor and force of nature Brian Blessed is the loudest thing on the planet; he once demolished a disused cooling tower with a single guffaw). When Mr Blessed stopped yodelling, I was able to hear the engine again, continuing its metallic scream – much higher-pitched than the deep-throated Bentley Supersports. To be honest, I didn’t find the engine’s song as characterful as the Supersports or an Aston Martin V12. The exception was on the overrun; lifting off the throttle gave rise to a distinctive, sinister rattle issued by the 12 headed snake from Hades behind my head.
Then, amazingly, I realised I could make out something in the rear view mirror. A small van that I had passed way back, had suddenly appeared – glued to my tail. I was doing a generous 70mph (but no more than 75mph, officer) so I moved over to let the van past. It duly dawdled past me, promptly pulled in a little way ahead and gradually slowed down. Grateful for an excuse to enjoy the Aventador’s ferocious acceleration, I pulled out and overtook the van and carried on my way. Guess wot? Yes, the same thing happened again … and again. The third time I passed the van, the driver’s window came down and a hand appeared holding a camera pointing in my direction. A paparazzo! No doubt he mistook me for Batman actor, Ben Affleck. There is a similarity – Ben and I have the same number of heads, for a start. And, we weren’t that far from Gotham (the Nottinghamshire version) or even Wollaton Hall which doubles as Wayne Manor in the Batman movies. Or maybe, he was taking a photo of the car?
Finally, the van turned off and I carried on my way up the A46, the more slow moving vehicles pulling out ahead of me the better because I then had an excuse to drop a couple of gears and restore cruising speed as quickly as possible once they moved out of the way. Then, after about 25 miles, I turned around and did much the same thing all the way back to the Batcave. Work beats putting up coving any day.