Sunday, 7 September 2008

In which we say goodbye to an old friend

Sad news in the Black household this week as our red convertible Mini is no longer with us……

The end of the Mini, or to be more
precise the rear end of the Mini

Sadly the old girl fell just short
of making the half century

Fortunately the Mini was not stolen or crashed but replaced by a new slinky black number.

After dabbling with partial BMW ownership we have now gone the whole hog and entered the murky world of full-on BMW driving. This brings with it some interesting challenges:-

Use of indicators
This seems to anger other BMW drivers, whilst at the same time confusing most other car drivers on the road. You can almost see the drivers’ little minds ticking over……

“The car in front is indicating. Check.”

“The car in front is a BMW that is indicating..... Does not compute with previous stored knowledge.”

“I didn’t think BMW’s came with indicators.”

“Perhaps I’m on one of those candid-camera style programs?”

“Now, where is the camera?”

“Oh, I wish I had brushed my hair this morning….”

Stalling as a feature
When you stop the car in traffic the engine cuts out. The first few times this happens your mind keeps thinking. “Oh god, I’ve stalled it again”. As soon as you touch the clutch the engine springs back to life. BMW claim it saves petrol. The cynical side of me thinks it might be some cunning BMW plot to make you purchase a new starter motor every few years. I’ll monitor the situation and keep you informed. Perhaps I could get Bill Oddie to present a new annual show “Starter Engine Watch.”

For the benefit of anyone who is around when I next stop the car, "Don't give me that look. remember I have not stalled it, it is a special feature"

Ipod connection
Having already paid extra for the special Ipod connection in the car, I thought that would be it. Apparently not, for my Ipod to actually talk to the BMW special connection I needed to purchase the services of an interpreter. In this case a special BMW Ipod cable (apparently the Ipod’s own lead can only partially speak BMW which allows it through the medium of mime to play random tracks, particularly specialising on selecting the most embarrassing tracks it can find on the old Ipod but little else). I had to make an emergency, life or death, dash to the nearest BMW garage yesterday. You can imagine how cheap that purchase turned out.

Cheap & tacky bits
There were a couple of really cheap and tacky red plastic covers on the Seat belts, which clashed awfully with the car seats and quite frankly looked rather nasty. I was so disappointed that I did the typical English thing and tried to pretend that they were not there. It was only when I took a couple of friends from the office out to lunch that the day was saved. They took one look at them and just ripped them off. After I almost had a heart attack at this apparent attack on our new car they explained that they were just transit covers.....
What makes it even more embarrassing for me is that my friends Sophie & Katherine are a couple of leggy blonde's. Doh! But in mitigation they do run the company’s car scheme so should know about these sorts of things, or at least know a man who does.

BMW solve the age old riddle of
how to recycle the red waxy bits that
are wrapped around a Mini-babybel

Bluetooth phone conection
The BMW Bluetooth phone kit, which I purchased as an extra, only works fully with Nokia phones that belong in museums. (The newer Nokia phones won’t synch properly with the BMW Bluetooth). While you can still receive calls you can’t tell who is calling. This means there is a real danger that my mother might get through (aside 1). I wrote a tongue-in-cheek email to BMW who, to give them their due, replied in less than 24 hours with what I feel is a fair enough explanation…..

Dear Mr Black

Thank you for your email regarding Bluetooth compatibility.

To give you some guidance on the background to the various compatibility issues, I would like to offer you the following information - when Bluetooth was first discussed, the plan was that all handset manufacturers would use a universal platform in order that Bluetooth would recognise Bluetooth at all times.

The Government imposed very high 3G licence costs on the mobile phone manufacturers the result of which was that the handset manufacturers abandoned the universal platform and produced their own software versions - from this stem the challenges that the motor manufacturers have.

Additionally, a BMW has a manufacturing lifecycle of seven years while mobile phones are updated every few months which could explain the museum pieces! New handsets also have their software updated with what are called 'bug fixes' which then changes the software to Version .2 or .3 and beyond.

Both the Nokia N and E series of mobiles handsets have been tested but shown no compatibility.

The Bluetooth list is updated regularly as new handsets are tested and shown to be compatible and I would recommend that you check the list regularly.

This guidance should offer you some clarity to your query but if I can help you further at any time, I would welcome your contact.

Yours sincerely

BMW Group UK

While I might have zoned out during the third paragraph the response sounds reasonable enough to me. With my phone due for an upgrade I guess it might be time to harangue Nokia to see what they can do with the software for their N range. The other choices are to upgrade in a backwards-facing direction and go for a Nokia Museum piece or bite the bullet and go for another phone manufacturer’s product. Oh the joys of modern life, with its ever-increasing customer choice and the pressure that puts us under. It almost makes me hanker for the days when Henry Ford offered the customer a choice of any colour for his car, as long as it was black.

Excuse me while I go and slip into
my sexy little black number

Breaking News

F1 scandal
With the result of the Belgium Grand Prix being overturned in favour of Ferrari what little dignity F1 clings to is in real danger of being trampled in the dust. Does the sports governing body not realise that the constant bias towards the Italian team is turning the sport into a complete joke? If the penalty for Hamilton is not overturned then I will have nothing more to do with what used to be my favourite sport.

The Narnia cupboard gets a good seeing to
Mrs B’s “clear it out” mentality ran headlong into my “you never know when it might come in handy” stance. There were few survivors as two car loads of junk/useful knick-knacks (depending on your point of view) were last seen heading towards the local dump. I had to keep the cats constantly on the move, in order to make sure they were not caught up as “Mrs B’s tsunami of removal” swept through the house.

---------So that's the end of another BlackLOG, my advice is skedaddle --------------------before you get caught up in one of Mrs B's tsunami sessions---------------

(1) My mother has started to screen phone calls, only she has not fully grasped the concept, i.e she doesn’t have an answer phone, so can’t tell who is calling anyway. My sister and I had failed to get through to her for a number of weeks. It had got to the point where I was going to have to drive over and break in (I have not had a key since I left home over 20 years ago) to check that she was still alive. Just before I drove over I tried a final time and she answered. I asked her if she was OK and why she had not been answering her phone.

“I didn’t know who was calling” came her honest, if not entirely sensible, reply.
(Return to text)


  1. Sexy new car or what! How extravagant - all those hours chained to the desk worth it for the wheels. I thought only drug dealers and pimps drove BMW' change?

  2. I was surprised to learn that you even had any embarassing tracks on your iPod but then figured that it was probably compulsory once you bought the BMW. We could probably waste a fruitful few hours suggesting an appropriate soundtrack for a new Beemer driver.......

  3. Skipper - Fortunately for me it is poor Mrs B who is tied to the desk for long hours. While that sounds a bit kinky and fun, I can assure that it is not. It does however leave me plenty of free time to indulge in my new hobby of cruising the streets of BS selling women and pimping drugs.

    Loth - I've only had the Beamer for a couple of days so hope that my musical taste is not already showing signs of rapid deterioration. As a child of the sixties I have the habit of loading entire albums rather then select tracts. Even the Beatles weren't immune from putting bad tracks on otherwise brilliant albums. Revolution 9 on the white album and Yellow Submarine on Revolver....

    The Mini had its own theme tune "Little Red Rooster" keeping to the Rolling stones theme I could go for "Paint it Black" or perhaps I should go for a more modern theme "Back to Black" Amy Winehouse......

  4. Like the look of the new wheels!
    Sad to see the mini go, I enjoyed a few trips in that. Nearly as much as the old days in your more ancient mini - being flung about in the back!

  5. JL, welcome aboard BlackLOG. We were sad to see the mini go as well. I was a bit worried that the BMW would not be as much fun to drive, so far it's great.
    Don't worry I'm sure I should be able to fling you about in the back (Oooh er, missus! sounds a bit rude), just like old times but with a little more style.

  6. Ohhh my car does that engine stopping whilst waiting at junctions as well. Although it only does it on wet mornings, it's what known as a quirky little number.

  7. Suggest you listen to the fellow professional drivers before passing comment. All clearly called the boy blunder in the wrong at Spa, e.g. Coulthard, Webber, Trulli and Heidfeld when interviewed by Brundle. Apparently there is a wait two corners code of conduct. I bow to their opinion before yours. Best result this season was Vettel winning at Monza, the Championship would be better without Mclaren or Ferrari these days, two seriously tainted teams after last year's nonsense. Follow the Munich Propeller that's what I say, as you should as a fellow owner.

  8. Welcome to the BlackLOG "Batmen Worries" and I hope disagreeing with you won't put your nose out of joint. It is my understanding that the two corner rule appeared after the incident in Belgium. It is also interesting that the contemporary competitors of "Boy Blunder" are against him. Your list does seem to read like a who’s who of F1 no hopers and under achievers. If only DC had spent more time getting on with his driving rather then moaning he might have had a decent career. It is not just that particular incident that turned me away from the sport. It is the catalogue of Ferrari biased decision over the years; this was just the final straw. Hearing afterwards that Massa had been given a drive through penalty in Singapore, while lying in last place, for pulling out on a driver in the Pits, again, just to prove that Ferrari do get penalised, made me laugh and only served to underlined that I have made the correct choice for me...

    At least I can end on a high and agree with you on the Vettel result, just a shame that I did not get to watch it.

  9. I don’t disagree with the perceived bias of the FIA towards Ferrari but McLaren are just as much a shabby and shady organisation. In fact Dennis does great disservice to the legacy of Bruce McLaren a true racing great. The shame is no one watches A1GP, because that is the correct concept of the driver winning races on ability rather equipment and quirky indecipherable rules. Got fed up with Bernie’s little club sometime ago, and the fact that Mosley kept his job was unbelievable. I happen to believe the Lewis won Spa fair and square also, but on learning what is the unwritten drivers code and what has frequently been discussed in drivers briefings, it seems the boy was too impetuous, and let’s face it he would have out driven Kimi up the hill through Eau Rouge easily. Simplest thing to do is delete Ferrari and McLaren from the drivers and constructors standings and you get a far more exciting championship ! There won’t even be a UK GP after next year anyway, as the Donningtion development won’t happen, another Bernie scam to take so Far or Middle East dollars and drive around another monotonous new circuit with no overtaking and no fans. But hey that’s progress. Last year a 3 day ticket to Silverstone for juveniles = GBP 10, this year GBP 57.50, next year seemingly no discount !!! Unbelievable. So much for my nephew’s interest.


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