Daily archives: January 23, 2011

Let’s add some more to the wishlist

Today is my day to covet cars I find on eBay. I’m watching Top Gear on iPlayer and not being impressed by the supercars, as usual. I’d rather have something like this Ginetta G15, a two seater sports car powered by a Hillman Imp engine. This one’s got a few race inspired modifications, including a rather funky front spoiler. It needs a little work, but at £4,300 it costs less than the wheelnuts from a Lamborghini.

Less sporty, but in its own strange way a bit exotic, is this old Russian Volga. For £1,850 I could see it becoming the basis for a very special lead sled.

Back onto sporty cars, how about a Datsun 260Z, or Sunbeam Alpine?

As this is me day-dreaming about classic cars I’d usually end the post with a Citroen DS or Traction Avant, but I can’t find any listed today.

Kindle book review: Fifth Avenue

I found out about this book on a forum. The author was offering reciprocal reviews for anyone who would review it. Then it turned up in the top sellers list at Amazon, so I thought I’d buy it. I have not taken up the review offer, maybe I should.

The action takes place, mostly, on the eponymous Manhattan street as billionaire George Redman gears up for his biggest ever deal. His favoured daughter Celina will play an important role whilst neglected child Leana is left to her own devices. However, someone wants to scupper the deal and destroy the family. (I won’t spoiler the bad guy for you, though the Amazon blurb does.)

Throughout the book I was reminded of a sort of mini series popular in the eighties, where unpleasant things happened to unpleasant people and we were supposed to care just because they were rich. None of the characters is particularly likeable, though that may be because none of them ever develops much of a character to care about. They just lurched from one unlikely event to the next, reacting in ways that left me wondering how Redman and his nemesis could ever have become so rich whilst being so dumb and devoid of empathy.

Sometimes you can get past flat characterisation with a fast paced plot, interesting background details and neat set pieces. Sadly Fifth Avenue doesn’t supply those either. The lives of the rich and infamous are reduced to name checking expensive brands and little else, and one of the most important and dramatic scenes in the book left me unmoved. The ludicrous revenge plan which drives the whole story is equally empty and uninspiring. What could have been a key sequence- where the big deal is brokered and the battling corporations make play and counter-play, revealing and tipping each others hands- all happens offscreen whilst uninspiring melodrama continues on the page.

I didn’t enjoy this book. But the author got my money, and the book is a best seller, so perhaps I’m the one who’s doing things wrong.

On second thoughts, maybe I won’t ask for the reciprocal review.

Fifth Avenue on Amazon UK.

Fifth Avenue on Amazon US.

Just add these to the wishlist

It’s Sunday, I feel like having a look on eBay for silly vehicles I’d love to own if money, storage and sense were no object.

If the North Pole keeps on warming up and pushing Arctic winds further South for longer periods, then we can expect many more winters like the this year’s and last’s. It may be time, then, to invest in a Snowcat, aka a Volvo BV202 NF1. This funky vehicle, as used by multiple armed forces, exerts a low ground pressure so it can travel over snow and swamps and even float, driven through the water by its tracks. There are two for sale, but they’re both in Romania. If that’s too far, or the price is too steep, and you already have an off roader then maybe you only need to invest in a snowplough attachment. Or you could restore this vintage snowmobile.

Closer to home are two examples of another beloved old military vehicle- the Willys Jeep. One is listed at £2,500, is missing a gearbox and hasn’t run for at least 35 years. The other is at £5,500, but at least runs.

Of course, sometimes you just hanker after the quiet life and want the neighbours and the kids to shut up for a while. If gentle reasoning hasn’t worked it may be time to break out the armoured riot van, as used in Northern Ireland.

If slow and steady is more your style then maybe you need a road roller. Around here I could use it to do a public service and fill in all the potholes.