Wednesday’s first achievement was managing to sleep longer than Tuesday’s 5:30am shocker. I woke up a whole minute later today. Not really the result I was looking for, but despite the excitement of what the day ahead might include, was determined to sleep for at least a bit longer. This I managed with a modicum of success, turning on the basin’s cold tap of reality to wash away the remainder of my comatose state just before 7am.
In an entirely uninteresting way, it was at least an opportunity to observe how the A1’s traffic differed with just a 10 minute delay to my usual departure time. No doubt the light showers, surface spray and even more bad driving and crap lane discipline than usual, didn’t help, but the cumulative effect was that I didn’t arrive until 8:20am. I was already logged on and working on News Watch the day before.
It also proved to be one of those typical starts to the day where just when you don’t need more hassle, things don’t run as smoothly as they really ought to. This was my last journey in the test car I’ve been running for a week – a Peugeot 308 e-HDi hatchback. Having parked up, I remembered to start clearing out the detritus that had built up in there over the previous seven days. Umbrella retrieved from the boot and wallet safely nestled in my manbag (I’m very metropolitan for a Northerner, as you can see), I thought I was done, when I caught sight of the tell-tale white iPod docking lead on the centre console in my peripheral vision. Only grabbing it half heartedly, I managed to drop it down the side of the front passenger seat where it somehow got lodged on the inside track of the seat runner.
After several frantic minutes of trying to ram my hand down alongside the centre console, succeeding in nothing other than cutting off the blood supply off to my fingers, I decided losing my dignity was the only course of action. I couldn’t leave the lead after all – it’d cost me £15.
So, seat edged all the way forwards, I scrabbled round under the back of the seat by kneeling down by the open back door and leaning in over the rear footwell. Accompanied by a series of entirely necessary grunts and ‘bloody hells’, I latched onto just enough of the errant wire to secure a tight purchase. iPodability was back within my grasp.
Anyway, Peugeot keys deposited at Bauer’s main reception, I was office-bound to get cracking on the News Watch feature to begin the day. This is more challenging than it first appears on a day like today where there’s not a wealth of intriguing motor industry stories to select from.
Up next was to write a couple of articles to support news items which get listed under First Official Pictures. The normal industry model is to release a few carefully chosen shots of new and revised cars before their formal unveiling at a significant motor show. Most are accompanied by a press release from the manufacturer, that naturally speaks highly of their new offering. The job of a journalist is to disect the facts from the information provided, in order to report what the actual news is.
First to be written was the text to accompany the announcement of the 2012 Lexus GS F Sport range. Having let Tim (Pollard) know it was done, I set about on the next piece. When Tim came over to give me his feedback post-publication, I must admit I was a little disheartened – although everything he said was perfectly correct. I’d not reined in all of the marketing flimflam, and as a result what I’d written had a few elements that detracted from the newsworthiness of it.
To be fair though, this is what I came for – not to seek to have the time of my life chinwagging to other petrolheads but to improve my writing ability. And the brief chat was the most effective episode of constructive criticism I’ve ever been on the receiving end of. That said, it was a mighty relief to read the article and find it was still very much recognisable to me as what I had written. Spotting yesterday’s Kia Sportage review online further raised my spirits.
Hopefully the second piece will have been much nearer the mark for what’s required for such a piece but I’ll know no sooner than any of you, whether or not it was as there was no opportunity for it to be edited and approved before I left. Embargo agreements prevent me from revealing what the car is, but all being well my piece to accompany the photos should be viewable on CAR Magazine’s website shortly after 11pm this evening.
Now, remember that auditing task I mentioned yesterday? Well, part two took most of the afternoon with a thorough scouring of media sites looking for up-to-date images of the cars I’d highlighted yesterday as needing to be replaced. Again, this is a task that if it’s not your ‘thing’ would be more tedious than a marathon session watching a box set of Loose Women DVDs, but I found it immensely satisfying. Besides that, I’d spent the best part of a week doing this last summer picture researching for my first book. If I could stand hunting for over 1100 photos non-stop, locating 50 would be a comparative doddle.
Today I was also fortunate enough to meet CAR’s road test editor, Ben Pulman. And, again, like all of the people working there who I’ve met, totally down to earth and easy to talk to. I won’t reveal too much here (or it’ll take the shine off tomorrow and Friday’s diary entries) but from that chat with Ben, I know I’ll be working on a small piece that will (fingers, toes, eyes, everything else crossed) appear in print. Not a full-blown article by any means, but something I can be proud of nonetheless. I also know on Friday I’ll be out of the office driving a car I’m not allowed to reveal anything about either (seriously, this clandestine approach is not my doing but it is vital) for a group test photo shoot.
And before I knew it, another day was over and the A1 once again beckoned me north. It was also my first opportunity to familiarise myself (quickly) with this week’s test car – a 4×4 version of Škoda’s popular and well-respected Yeti. It seems even doing things like adjusting the steering wheel angle and locating the controls is not something you can do without someone taking a photograph to capture the moment for posterity. I have Parker’s linchpin Gareth Evans to thank for that. Presumably this was in retribution for forgetting to mention in Monday’s diary that I’d met him…
So, to sum up Wednesday? Recognising I’ve still got a lot to learn about what works in this industry. Then again, if you think you’ve ever stopped learning, the only person you’re kidding is yourself, whatever profession you’re in. Roll on Thursday.
CAR Magazine logo © Bauer Media, all other images © Keith WR Jones 2011