Rory's Ramblings

Atlas F1

Rory's Ramblings

An Occasional Column from the Antipodes by Rory Gordon, Australia


You Know You're In The Shit...

Over the last couple of Rambles, I seem to have been meandering along in roughly the same direction, asking where the supposed relevance of F1 to street cars really is.

And it's interesting to look at some of the messages that have arrived in response to those Rambles. For example, one person said, among other things, that "Rory has missed the obvious F1 to street connection." Someone else, in what must be one of the shortest messages I've ever received since I started doing these Rambles, said, "My thoughts exactly."

Taken together, those two messages show that we are all human and that we have the marvellous ability to look at situations and see them not only in black and white, but also in the infinite shades of grey that go between the starkness of black and white.

There is, in this modern world of ours, something called "Political Correctness" (PC). Regular readers of the Rambles will know that in the past I have rambled on about the use of the English language and, in particular, about spelling and grammar.

Mis-use or abuse of spelling and grammar is something I loathe. But there are times when it is perhaps not excusable, but maybe forgivable. Lack of education, being tired, laziness, or simply the desire to be as fast as possible can all lead to some amusing errors creeping into the written word. [One of my favourites was a report from a GP where the writer meant to say something about Olivier Panis. Sadly, the writer relied almost totally on the spell-checker and let it do its thing automagically. The spell-checker considered "Panis" to be incorrect, and replaced it with what it thought was the next best word ... "Penis"!]

But I find PC to be something that I just cannot grasp. What exactly does "vertically challenged" actually mean? Does it mean that someone is short? Or that they are tall? Good grief, the medical profession have terms that I really don't understand, but at least their excuse could be that each word describes an exact condition. "Vertically challenged" tells me nothing.

And then there's PC's close cousin, "Management Speak". This is the one that I really dislike. Synergy, scoping, leveraging. What do they mean? I suppose that there are some people who do understand what these words are supposed to mean in the context that they use then, but there are many others who use the words merely because it makes the speaker sound impressive. (Need I say that I find such people unimpressive?!)

Personally, I think that the use of these words in that way is ugly.

Ugly. Now that's a simple, plain, straight-forward word for you. Ugly. The word even looks and sounds ugly.

When I look in a mirror, I wouldn't say that I was beautiful. Perhaps handsome, maybe even good-looking. And I certainly don't consider myself to be ugly. But some people may well disagree with me.

I have, from time to time, been known to spare more than a passing glance at some passing female. Well, perhaps I should say "stare at some passing female's body in sheer lust". I am a heterosexual male, and make no excuses for my staring.

But there have been times when I have stared not in lust, but in shock or disgust. And there have been times when I have been introduced to someone, stared in horror, and then learnt that the person inside that ugly body is absolutely gorgeous. The physical ugliness becomes dissolved by the personal beauty.

Which goes to show that what one person sees as ugly, another could well see as beautiful.

Apparently Max Mosely thought that the so-called "X-wings", that first appeared on Tyrrell's F1 car, were ugly and should be banned. Soon after, the FIA technical folks said that they were dangerous and were banned henceforth. Now, I don't know about you, but not only does that look just a little coincidental, but it also looks to me like Management Speak for "the X-wings are banned because they are ugly."

I agree that those X-wings were ugly. But were they hiding something beautiful underneath? I think they were. It's nothing that you could actually see. Quite simply, it was the ingenuity of the people that came up with the idea, developed it and put it on the car.

And that's one of the things that F1 is all about, isn't it? Technological innovation. If F1 was about prettiness and ugliness, then I think Bernie Ecclestone is ugly ... so he should be banned. And those grooved tyres are ugly ... so they should be banned. And the TV coverage is ugly ... so it should be banned. And...

That's ridiculous, of course. But where do you draw the line? Are Mosely's opinions more valid than mine? Are my opinions more valid than yours? Are any of us "right"?

Again, that's ridiculous. One person's ugliness may well be another person's beauty, as I said above. Remember that we humans tend to see things in the infinite shades of grey rather than just black and white.

But I am afraid that if we keep going along with the idea that F1 cars have to look pretty, we're going to end up with F1 cars that just don't perform the way F1 fans have come to expect. Will every technological innovation be judged on its appearance, with a panel of judges giving out scores?

Can you imagine it? The commentator's hushed voice, "And now that the race has finished, we wait for the judges scores. And there they are! Michael Schumacher has dropped from first to fifth, probably because those new bits on the Ferrari aren't exactly pretty, and the race has been awarded to Minardi, not for their car, but for the pirouette done by one of their mechanics during their fourth pit stop!"

That really would be the end of F1 as we know it.

But that's just me.

Rory Gordon
Send comments to: