Category: Motoring

Hard Work Forever Pays

It is no secret – I love cars! (Just look at some of the people I follow over on FlickR!) I have always had a thing for cars! Beautiful, exotic cars with a roar coming from the engine! Therefore you do not need to be a mind reader to deduce I am a big big fan of The Fast & Furious movie franchise. Fourteen years ago I caught the first installment in my first year at university in Leicester. I went to see at the local Odeon around the corner from my Halls of Residence. I enjoyed the movie, but never thought it would be so popular to spawn five plus sequels. In fact, I only saw the second and third movies once I had the box-set for Christmas some five years later.

The fourth movie, the effective “main reboot” for the latest movie line I caught at home while working in Newbury. Again I wasn’t overly impressed but felt it was a movie I should really watch in the cinema to truly appreciate all the set pieces. The makers of the franchise, then made the best decision ever, to parachute in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as US Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs to not only rescue the franchise but catapult it to new heights. All movies from the fifth, I have caught at Reading Vue with my dear friend Pav always 8pm and always the showing in our second home (screen four). (Do not ask me why, it has just worked out that way!).

The films bring out the petrol head in me with the insane set pieces – each movie building on the last. Fast Six perhaps was a clear favourite, being set in London with a crazy English villain Owen Shaw, played perfectly by Luke Evans. There was also the gorgeous Rita Ora kicking off the street race from Somerset House around the West End mid way through the movie. Probably the most dramatic part of these entire race, is the fact that they were filming during the London Olympics and could only get permission to shoot two minutes of footage each hour and became only the third production to be granted permission to shoot at Piccadilly Circus. Now all Londoners know that that particular bottleneck can take over an hour to get through during peak time. Yet in the movie, they were screaming around in their cars without a care in the world. The power of movies!

Rita Ora

Anticipation for this latest film almost came to a sudden stop when I woke up one Sunday morning to be informed by my wife (reading the Daily Mail app in bed) that Paul Walker had died in a car crash. I was devastated. The news was confirmed on his official Twitter feed. (I had only started to follow Paul a few months prior to his passing).

While I had seen Paul’s performances in other movies, such as Timeline, I will forever associate him with the FF franchise and the boy next door element he brought to all those films. Michelle had actually met him with her class during the movie première of Eight Below and noted how down to earth and personable he was. As far departed from the aloof Hollywood mega-star as you can get. Over the course of the weeks after that fateful crash on 30th December, we got to hear stories of Paul’s heartfelt generosity. The future of the film franchise was also in doubt and production was put on hold while the cast and crew were given the time they needed to mourn the loss of their star. It was painful, even as somebody who did not know the man, but having watched so much of him on the big screen you begin to feel a connection. Many people may find a statement such as this fake and insincere, particularly with all the other things going on in the world, why am I focusing on the death of a privileged film star. I am just letting people know I understand fully the often repeated phrase – family.

I have been bugging Pav for weeks to book tickets. The film was released over Easter so I gave extra notice to ensure our cinema date did not clash with family plans. Luckily Saturday evening had a window and we booked tickets for peak time in screen four. We walked in a little late, with the adverts on and found our seats quickly. The trailers came on and then the latest instalment could begin.

On my television I have the music video for See You Again playing in the background, as I write this post and I am overcome by so many feelings. Feelings I thought I had laid to rest many many years ago. The Fast & Furious franchise has been a big part of my life, I recall going to see the first movie like it was yesterday. Life as a student at university in Leicester feels like a lifetime ago even if I only left eleven years ago. I wonder what that young man must think of the person I have become now. Well into my thirties and living perhaps a very different life to the one I had imagined. There is also the fact that I cannot go back to 2001 in the archives, I only started blogging in 2002.

While we wait for a full detailed review from the guys over at The Fast Cast I thought it would be good to give just my thoughts on the movie. In one word – epic – everything that we have known to love from the previous movies notched up several levels. There is also very little drop in pace, we move from one set piece to the next, with only a brief narrative to move the plot along. Roman Pearce provides excellent comic relief, as Luke Hobbs is unfortunately laid up for the majority of the film and has little more than an extended cameo. I had been disciplined to watch only two full trailers and not the most recent extended version which featured the stunts in Abu Dhabi. At the gym, I noticed a shot of Vin Diesel stopping himself being thrown out of the side of a skyscraper and wondered what will happen next. The true build up for me started in early March when I listened to the final “Fast Cast” from those great guys over at the Fast Cast blog.

Now I got back from Reading around midnight and had to find out much more about not just the latest movie but the entire franchise. I went straight to Buzz feed and read multiple articles (at least three maybe four). Which I have listed below. Don’t Have Friends Got Family, Making FF7 without Paul Walker and Furious 7 Ending Paul Walker. Trust me to come home after a two hour plus movie and then spend over an hour reading about every little detail of the film. Suddenly it became very important for me to understand the dilemma of completing a movie with one of your main cast members nolonger with us. The ending was a true tribute to the main man – Brian O’Conner. The movie studio had shown not only him but the audience the utmost respect. Rather than killing him off, he was dutifully retired from duty in a scene which brought a tear to my eye.

I have been listening to See You Again constantly since Sunday. Such a beautifully powerful stirring song, it easily evokes the memories of the past. I feel we all sometimes forget to live in the moment and then as soon as the moment has passed, we instantly begin to reminisce of the time gone by. Almost wanting to capture the magic from before it is lost forever. To then become just a images in your memory banks. Maybe it is the melody played so softly on the piano, maybe it is the high impact of the words, rapped by Wiz. Difficult to explain in words, just sometimes a song comes along to capture the mood in tribute to a movie star gone, but also reflect back on your life and where you are at this exact moment.

Roadworks On The Doorstep

Nobody likes roadworks. Yet, they are an everyday nuisance of modern life. Living next to the First Great Western mainline route between Paddington and the West has meant we are inflicted upon by the noise of trains going by on a regular basis from 6am until midnight. Just like the planes overhead flying out and in to Heathrow, you get used to and after a month or so acclimatise to their existence. However, when we moved in over three years ago we knew little of the impact Crossrail would have on our new home. Stoke Poges Lane has a bridge, affectionately named after a local factory landmark, Horlicks Bridge. The bestowed name from the GSK building nearby which many years ago produced the nightime beverage. It is tight for two regular vehicles to cross at the same time and when lorries approach the crossing, they have to wait to ensure they are given a clear passage. Network Rail own the bridge, rather than Slough Borough Council, so therefore have been in charge of the upgrade in preparation for the electrification of the line from Reading all the way to the capital. The bridge is to be removed in November and fully replaced with full size bridge in April. Meanwhile we have had to put up with roadworks which started about two weeks ago, with three way traffic lights controlling the flow of vehicles over the bridge.


While driving home from Wycombe this evening, I came up to the lights and waited for them to turn green as you do. A wait of ten minutes, maybe a little more. However, as the lights turned green, a driver had taken the risk and jumped the red light on the other side. Now most cars ahead of me decided this was just not on and decided to force the driver to stop just before the signal. Being the better person I decided to let the silver Golf pass, only to have a bright blue BMW behind me toot their horn for holding them up. I was trying to let the vehicle through, so then the rest of the traffic would have clear run at the bridge. Oh the impatience of some drivers. This reall does get my goat sometimes. Why is everybody in such a hurry. I am sure there was a Honda Jazz television advert from many years ago which ended with the lines – “Aren’t We All Just Trying To Get Somewhere…!”

Momentous Milestones

This was not how I had intended to end my weekend, driving back from Nottingham to Slough. My car broke down, just off the M69 as we were approaching the A46 outside Coventry. A call to Green Flag and a forty minute wait later, we were towed over to the nearby Tesco supermarket. It was nearly 8pm at this point, the supermarket long since closed but the petrol station was open and we bought some sandwiches while we waited. The car was going to be loaded onto a trailer and driven down to Slough but we had up to a 90 minute wait. It was going to be a long night. The truck arrived within thirty minutes and we were on our way home. We did not expect to be home before 11pm.

On Trailer

We had been in Nottingham for the 100th Birthday celebrations of my long term family friend’s mother. It had been a wonderful but tiring day and we looking forward to getting home at 7pm to prepare for another working week. It was not to be.

Destination London

Some movies you anticipate for over a year, sometimes longer. Triple ‘A’ grade movies, such as The Dark Knight Rises, The Man Of Steel and even the finale to Hangover. However, there are also the second tier of movies, Grade B if you will, which you try and catch at the multiplex but if you do not, you are not that disappointed. It is not the end of the world. You will always catch on blu-ray a few months later or subsequently when they appear on television several years later. The Fast & Furious franchise is one very much close to my heart as a petrol head but I can take it or leave it. This was only the third movie of the now six movie franchise that I had actually watched on the big screen. I recall watching the first movie while at University and being blown away. This was the first time that I could recall Hollywood producing a worthy racing car movie. Japan (in particular) but other nations had a long history of race car movies. Sure it was not perfect by any means but it was a start and I had enjoyed the ride. If you had told me then, that I would have seen sequels five and six at the cinema, over ten years later I would not have believed you!

As agreed after watching the last installment back in April 2011, (we had stayed for the post-credits scene which set up the plot for the sequel) I was going to watch Fast Six and all further sequels with my bestie Pav. I originally had thought he would want to catch the afternoon showing at 2pm but instead he opted (once cleared with Emily) to come along to the 8:30pm showing in our second home (screen four). The auditorium was at 60% capacity when I booked tickets on Sunday evening just before dinner. I was really looking forward to the movie. It has been a while since I visited a cinema at peak time on a weekend, rather than the cheaper saver Tuesday. It was worth paying full price in my opinion for what would be a great action movie. Sometimes, you just want to be entertained and escape away from life’s troubles. You can leave your brain outside and have a few hours to be taken on an epic adventure.

Fast & Furious 6

I happened to watch Kermode on BBC News briefly on Friday evening before I headed to the gym. He reviewed Fast Six, explaining if you had seen the full trailer, you had seen all the best parts from the movie and you could spare yourself the time and money of watching the rest of the movie. I have to disagree with Mark (I usually do). This is an action movie, the set pieces are always completely ridiculous, stretching the believable to the limit and on this occasion most of the action takes place in London. The film delivered pretty much what I expected and maybe a little bit more. The comedy value was turned up a level with even Hobbs having some classic lines. It was great fun and I will catch it again when released on home media. In fact, I really want to watch Fast Five again! Good fun and the great news is that the next movie will be part of a new trilogy – 7-8-9…

Since joining Tumblr, I stumbled across The FastCast blog. Mainly because I entered cars as one of my hobbies and I believed I was linked through by a Tumblr car photography blog. One of the first entries was a podcast, previewing the sixth installment in the franchise. If you are a fan and want a recap before you have seen the movie, I highly recommend you listen to this episode, it is just under an hour and various aspects of the entire franchise are discussed including what to expect in the upcoming movie. I listened to the episode while in the gym the other day and hope to listen to the review episode in the coming week. The movie was released a week later in the States to make the most of a long weekend for Memorial Day. A special dedication therefore to the podcasters themselves, Creighton DeSimone and Chris Ziegler.

Let It Crumble

I am not a major fan of James Bond. My Dad is the biggest fan I know but he has grown up with the movies! We are very different as father and son, he prefers the comic dryness of Englishman Roger Moore and I prefer the gritty realism of Welshman Timothy Dalton. In fact, there was a point at the turn of the century, when the last Bond movie I had seen was actually 1989 Licence To Kill. The Pierce Brosnan movies had passed me by for what would be my lost Bond decade. It was not until I was in college and my dearest friend Pav mentioned that the opening to The World Is Not Enough was the best opening to any (action) movie he had ever seen, did I re-consider the franchise. Perhaps Ian Fleming’s MI6 secret agent was worth another try.

The build up to this release was immense, even if you do not factor in the 50th anniversary of Dr. No. The third outing for Craig had been a major disappointment. Craig was never my choice to be in the role, I thought it was the ideal time for a black actor to be set into what is regarded as the quintessential British spy. However the producers, even in early 2004 felt this was too much of a risk to take. (Perhaps they will take the risk after Craig’s final two part finale piece over the next few years). Did people still want Bond? Casino Royale was good, Bond was portrayed with a modern day realism, sure he was cocky but not at all cheesy. He came across as hard work and I believe as a spy, this would be his overwhelming persona. On screen, Craig delivered, but the movie itself was very well put together with an excellent cast and most importantly great villain. I enjoyed the movie back in late November 2006, even if there were a bunch of uncontrollable schoolboys sitting in the row behind us at the Vue Oxford. There was enough going on to keep you involved and perhaps the only missing element was more Bond girls.

Nevertheless I was happy with the new direction the franchise was heading in and looking forward to the next instalment. What is it with Bond movies and the month of November? Are we never to get a release in the summer months? Oh yes, that is during the US blockbusters and the marketing team do not want to compete with the likes of Transformers 4 or Thor 2. I was actually out of the country in November 2008, for the release of sequel, Quantum of Solace. (Out of the country purely in the laterally rather than geographical sense, I was actually in North Wales). I went to the see movie at the Odeon with my best mate Dave. He had never seen a Bond movie at the pictures before so this was a new experience. I was disappointed for several reasons. The plot was non-existent, the villain was light weight to say the least and the whole objective was revenge. Revenge as a theme works in some movies but not with Bond. (For the record, I have not seen On Her Majesty’s Service). Another area where both movies were below the standard of their predecessors were the songs. It still is the utmost honour to be chosen to pen the theme tune to Bond. However, after poor song releases which did not even feature the title of the movie in their lyrics, it was time to get back to basics. On this point, beyond all others, Skyfall goes back to the oldschool. Adele was an inspired choice and her song added to the excitement of the movie. It is a shame, as I left the cinema this afternoon, how underwhelm I felt.

Sure it ticks many of the Bond boxes, action from the get go, sexy Bond girls and delightfully evil villain but the whole final third was a major disappointment. My expectations had been blown out of the stratosphere by friends, work colleagues and even some online commentators (plus Chris Evans and Vassos Alexandar on BBC Radio 2). I was expecting a major show down between Bond and Silva. It never materialised after over two hours of major meandering around each other, the build up to the final epic battle, never lives up to your heightened expectations. Similar to Mission Impossible III (just like Craig, Cruise’s third outing as Ethan Hunt) the bad guy is built up to such an extent but under utilised in the third act. Having said that, at least there is a final battle of sorts between Hunt and Davey. While keen not to reveal too much of the plot, all I can say is that Bond appears to be caught on the back foot throughout. The film borrows a great deal of plot devices from The Dark Knight, so it was a shame they could not have come up with a more original story but then this is Bond and as much as they try to go against type, why change a formula that has worked for fifty years.

My Dad’s friend went to the Royal Premere in London on Wednesday 23rd October – two days before the national release in the UK. Unfortunately my Dad was not able to attend as there was only one ticket but he did get his hands on the official souvenir programme. Impressive to say the least, shame the film for me, was a great deal of image over substance. A shame, but with a two part finale for Craig, hopefully this was just an extended two hour trailer to setup the personnel for films twenty four and twenty five!


This Guy is Elite!

I collected my A3 from Pav quite late into this evening. He had the car for the past week and a half to complete a full protection detail. I had not been able to provide the car last summer, but made the most of my holiday this year by leaving the car with him while in India.

My Dad saved me a copy of The Metro from Tuesday 20th July (three full days before my return). Showing me the article on page three. I kept this knowing that my dearest friend Pav would admire enviously the work of Gurcharn Sahota. Just check out the gallery on the Official EFD website.

Elite Detailing & Protection

Yes, there will come a day when Crystal Detail are too busy to handle my vehicle and I will upgrade to the guy who is Elite! (PS – still got his feet on the ground, working on super cars but driving home in a battered old VW Polo!)

Monday 5th September 2005

Monday already? The working week comes around far too quickly for my liking. What a weekend! A typical bloke’s weekend, with football, cars, gadgets and computers. Where to start? Let us give a quick whirlwind review of the weekend. Thank you for bearing with me.

Saturday began with my trip to Heathrow to collect my Mum and sister. Not sure about you, but trips to the airport have always excited me. Several years ago, we had an almost annual customary trip to Heathrow. It would incidentally coincide with the release of the new number plate (1st August, back then, boys and girls) my sisters and I would spent the course of the journey looking out for the new letter, on shiny new cars, trucks, lorries and vans. Regardless of whom we are dropping off or collecting, there is a buzz about being in a cosmopolitan lounge, as people make their way off around the world. People is not the right word to use. Families, friends, loved ones. All heading away, and saying goodbye. I drove the car, having just woke my Dad up a few minutes earlier. We headed out around 6.40pm, knowing from the night before the plane would have landed by the time we got onto the M25. We parked, eventually finding a space on the second level. Heading into the arrivals area, it was surprisingly busy for early Saturday afternoon. As expected the flight had landed a few minutes earlier. It was was some time past 7am, my Dad handing me some cash to go get him a coffee and myself some tea. There were (as always) no options apart from Starbucks. I queued but, it was busy and there were four, maybe five people serving. Ordering a cappuccino and a tea, there was a twenty minute wait, before receiving my order. My drink slowly woke me up, while my Dad casually sipped his coffee. Sitting down, waiting for my family to arrive, I started to just observe the crowd. Some holding up signs, one by the Pharmaceutical giant, Merck. Families coming together, those hugs and smiles after weeks or months apart. am not a big commentary on social interaction, but it is interesting to see the expressions of joy, relief and heartfelt warmth, as people spot their friend or relative in the crowd. The baggage was in the hall, by now and I was sure my sister and my mother would be coming out of those magical tours very soon. The sudden influx of Indians or rather people that appeared to be from the sub-continent, heightened my expectations. There was still a good fifteen to twenty minute wait before they did finally materialize, although, it perhaps just felt longer. As I expected, my Mum, driving the trolley heading left towards the exit, while we had been waiting all this time to her right. Slipping under the barrier I headed to to grab her attention. There was no point shouting, Mum, a I did not know how many people (young and old) would turn their heads in my direction. (Just as someone had shouted Andrew, a few minutes earlier). Skipping in between other arrivals and their massive hoards of luggage. Tapping my Mum on the shoulder, I got her attention and as she turned around I saw the familiar smile I had not seen for over six weeks. How I had missed it so.

My sister was home from Nottingham for the weekend and I thought it great if we caught up a movie together. As chance would have it, she had not seen the sequel to the 2002 smash, Spiderman. By a strange act of fate, Sky Movies were premiering the film, as part of their Super heroes Weekend. This was an ideal time for me to relive the adventure, having seen the movie in down the local multiplex in late July 2004. What can I say? It has everything, action, a love story, a mediocre villain, and the reaction of major characters when the man behind the mask is revealed. My favourite character? There can be only one! The editor of course, perhaps just piping the editor from the Bollywood movie, Mr. India to the post! Perhaps the greatest comic book movie adaptation of all time (after Superman II, of course). Of course there are holes in this picture, to make it bridge the game before the big (final?) part of the trilogy. Scheduled for release in 2007, I expect the final web, to be the biggest.

Early start on Sunday, but that is to be expected. We are after all, talking about Mighty Mouse, who is know to get up at 5am on a Sunday, just to tweak some Perl scripts. I woke up a bit later than I wanted to, but thought I had plenty of time. Around 8.15am, I got a phone call. No, he can’t be here already. I bet he is waiting outside, I thought, rushing to put on my clothes. To my surprise, he had overslept and was just about to head out of the door. Surprised, but not at all angry or upset, I just told Hussein to let me know when he was near by so I could direct him to my house. In fact these turn in events, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When he finally arrived to pick me up, just before 9am, we headed off onto the M40. Pleasantly shocked by the quality of the ride in the Skoda Fabia. You can put your foot down and the engine does raw to life. CDs? Where were were going, there was no need for CDs. Empeg all the way. Passing me the remote, I was given the authority to select the play list for our journey down. What an honour? But I was slightly lost with the controls, so we agreed to play, the assorted singles collection. Which, in fact proved to be a wise decision. The weather was good, if somewhat foggy, but that was more to the time of day. The cruise on the M40, was uneventful. With the driver pushing the car to the limit, if only to show off. There were not the awful sight of Nova, bombing down at 50mph, in a bright lime green, overloaded with passengers and struggle to pick up any acceleration. Perhaps it was too early for the Vauxhall crowd. The traffic was light on the A43, so we made good time, until we got off for the Silverstone junction. This is where we stopped. This was where I finally spotted a mark two Astra, pimped to the max. I was warned to expect more of the same.

We entered the race course at exactly 10am, and began to plan our day. My only scheduled stop, was to see Pav’s M3 on the e36coupe dot com stand. The rest of was in the hand’s of my fellow car enthusiast. After all, he had been here before and knew what to expect, catch and miss. Thankfully, as soon as we entered the car group enclosure, Breezy’s car was standing out ahead of me, unmissable. I snapped some photos, but he was nowhere to be found, a call to his mobile, but it was switched off. My mission was complete, and so soon. With a sign of relief, I followed the lead of Hussein and planned to work our way around the car stands. However, we quickly headed for the 0-60 sprint track, when Hussein spotted a dark green Y-reg Fabia, headlights taped up, queuing for the track. We headed to the track and watched some heavy muscle cars, take their place. The masterpiece which was a Evo, clocking up an incredible 2.99 seconds. WOW! Our lady friend in the Fabia did not fair well at all. Not only did she have the jeers of the crowd, sneering at the thought of her pushing a 1.9 turbo diesel on the track. She had a poor pull off and ended up not registering a time, the clocked timed out at 17 seconds. Hardly a respectable time. Hang your head in shame. Under nine seconds last year? Your having a laugh!

I will upload my pictures later in the week, but for the time being there are a few galleries you can view. Namely, Mighty Mouse and Breezy.

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