For a Fast Moving World

This morning while I was driving to work, all of sudden a Jaguar commercial came out of my car radio. As I live in Italy, the commercial was of course in Italian, voiced by a professional fellow who was trying his best to sound just as sharp, confident and privileged as someone buying a Jaguar is supposed to sound.

I’m not sure Jaguar people realize that no matter how good an Italian actor they hire, he will never never never sound like Benedict Cumberbatch (who famously voices the English version), not to mention this is the very place where Ferrari was born, so people don’t care about Jaguars at all.

Anyway, these How Alive Are You commercials (more here) are very popular on the internet these days, the English version is widely considered voice porn actually, in particular the bits about the monocoque chassis, whatever a monocoque chassis may be, I wonder if my Golf has one. In my opinion they’re particularly fascinating to listen especially if you don’t know (or care) anything about cars, because as far as you can tell Mr. Cumberbatch may as well be talking about a submarine, or a spaceship. I like to imagine he’s talking about an aeroplane, as this provides a nice mental connection to Cabin Pressure, for example Martin Crieff learning how to sound authoritative and self-confident and finding himself a third job beside being a pilot and a bit of a man with a van, doing voice overs for, say, Airbus, along with Martin Donovan from the episode Rotterdam.

Now, speaking of cars, it was just yesterday that I discovered a hole inside the bonnet of my Golf. There’s this… plastic tube, I don’t know what it does, but a segment of it is missing. It’s definitely missing. I mean, it’s clear even to me. So I went to a repair shop, one where I had never been before, because the one where I usually go is apparently firing  all the personnel except for a mechanic that always laughs at me and the owner who always smokes in my face. So I went to this new place, I pointed to the hole inside the bonnet and said, look, I believe there should be something here. I was talking to this huge mechanic in a dapper uniform, who looked like Vladimir Nicolaevic Denissenkov, the bayan player, only with heavy black curls instead of fuzzy ginger ones. Vladimir said, in his very Vladimir voice, you don’t really need that part, the air will flow anyway. I stated that I would rather the tube to complete, just to feel ok. So he brought me to the spare parts counter, where the spare parts guy pointed at the year written on the documents of my car and looked at me with an expression saying c’mon it’s from another century you’d better try a car breaker for any spare part. Vladimir just shrugged. I glared. So they checked the spare part on the computer, and it turned out it costs 50 Euro. There was a second of silence, then they started to laugh very loud. I said ok then, what am I supposed to do exactly? They stared at each other. Then Vladimir recomposed himself and said in a very dignified tone, I’ll fix it for you now, please talk to the secretary about your data, I’ll wash my hands and I’ll back in couple of minutes. He’s back in fact in a couple of minutes, we go to my car and he tries to get in the passenger seat. I apologize because the central locking doesn’t work (hasn’t worked for the past three years and I don’t intend to have it fixed, I never wanted a central locking in the first place), I open the door and ask:

Where are we going then?

He does not reply to the car breaker as I was dreading, instead he replies:

to the spare parts shop around the corner

I panic anyway, because in order to get out of the parking space I have to perform a long and complicated reverse. Luckily all the Emir Kusturica atmosphere helps so I am able to accomplish what I call an acceptable maneuver (according to MJN Air standards).

We arrive at the spare parts shop, in front of which two guys in their twenties are smoking. They see Vladimir in an old and dirty Golf driven by a short thirty-something in huge aviators. Of course they start giggling on the spot. I park, they open the bonnet, they measure the tube section (possibly), they measure the missing segment (I think), they disappears for half an hour for some reason, and eventually they come back with a new segment to replace the missing one, and they secure it with what I think are called straps, or bands, or something.

Me and Vladimir go back to the repair shop where I pay 12 Euros to an impassible employee, and eventually drive home merrily in my other-century car which may or may not have a monocoque chassis.

That was yesterday. This morning I heard the Italian Jaguar commercial.