Blog: Kiss and fly (5 minutes maximum)
Glenn Brooks | 9 December 2011
The pecking order
So says the sign which directs you to the Departures drop-off at Nice Côte d'Azur airport.
As helpful as they were, I didn't feel the need to snog any of Toyota's valet parkers who whisked away the Avensis sedans and wagons that we journalists have been driving all afternoon.
I enjoyed the newly revised car on the autoroutes but maybe not so much on the twisty N-roads, including the famous Route Napoléon, which we strayed onto over the course of three-plus hours behind the wheel. Ending the afternoon's driving at Nice airport was a good idea, especially after I saw that whimsically-worded parking sign: how often does any of us get out of a car at an airport smiling as we go in search of the check-in desk?
These short but busy car launch events - you meet a lot of people, you see a lot of cars and highways and countryside - are also terrific for preventing you from falling into a trap. The trap of working in one place, of thinking that your own experience of where you live is how everyone else lives too. Here's what I mean: I am tapping this out as I wait for the plane back to Heathrow and as I look up just now, I see a poster inviting me to choose company x to insure my superyacht. No surprise that the firm in question has a .MC at the end of its email address.
Example number two: as I entered the terminal and glanced about for signs which said Check-in Desk, the first one I saw attempted to lure me towards 'Helicopter Transfers'. How the other half habitez, it would seem. Alas, I shall shortly be boarding a scheduled flight, not a chopper to deposit me on the deck of something large and luxuriant anchored in the nearby Monte Carlo harbour.
But there is a serious point here, especially on this day when 27 European leaders are meeting in one of the countries next door to this one, their collective mandate as I see it being to reinvigorate several of the larger Submerging Markets in this region of half a billion citizens.
As I am whisked away from Nice, this unsettlingly tidy and prosperous Disneyland-sur-mer of palm trees dazzlingly festooned with Christmas lights, I shall have to remember that some people in certain parts of Europe are clearly already buying lots of expensive cars again. That's from nothing more scientific than noticing all the newly-registered premium models I saw on the roads today - and for this ever-changing and endlessly fascinating industry which provides my and possibly your livelihood, that's got to be very good news.
Even in the UK where the usual suspects, certain fear-inducing newspapers, seem determined to push the country into a fifth consecutive year of despair, there was new evidence only a few days ago that This Too Shall Pass: registrations of commercial vehicles and cars ordered by fleet customers rose in November. Economies are usually on the turn right at the moment when media-manufactured mass anxiety peaks, I have learned. There was also an interesting article on this very topic in the FT earlier this week ('Warily On The Way Back'), which examined how the Irish have been quietly getting on with fixing their once wrecked but now expanding economy.
A raft of data last week proved that US consumers are spending again and we know that new vehicle sales are up - so just maybe Europe will, within three to twelve months, be climbing confidentally out of a deep hole too. At some point, things have to improve, and so from now on I'm personally kissing the overdone despair goodbye and, yes, to complete my appalling pun, taking flight from the doom-sayers.
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