Seductive Sleek Lines
Central London becomes an ode to seductive sleek visitors at this time of year. Our Mayfair man – and petrol nut – is entranced….
Column by Guy Shepherd
Ramadan is over. May God give thanks for plentiful petrol. I am a simple soul. I like girls. I like Rock’n’Roll. I like drink. I like motorbikes. I like cars. This is the best time of year to appreciate these five pillars in my life. The Middle East is a particularly hot place to be in the summer months. Relatively speaking, London is not. This makes it a very desirable spot for our Arab cousins to hang out in. Their presence brings infinite benefits to all, particularly in West London, especially in Mayfair. Hotels, restaurants, haute couturiers, perfumeries, garages, jewellers (whoop), hookers and mineral water purveyors all boom. The extraordinary wealth that this diaspora deposit in town is phenomenal and it brings with it an exoticism that is rarely seen at other moments in our calendar year. Thank you.
Let me describe one particular example I recently ogled as I meandered down Shepherd Street with my six year old son. She was a jaw dropping beauty with curves that beggared belief. Her skin was the colour of a burnished sunset, the undulations of her smooth body complementing the dark, soft interior behind her mask. Her Khol black eyes were highlighted by scarlet, Brembo lips which seemingly teased. Her curvaceous bottom beckoned at me too with a tiny taurine tattoo and the simple name, “Aventador”. It was love at first sight. After describing that the engine was in the boot and the boot in the engine, my son gasped, “When I am rich, I will buy you this Lamborghini, Daddy.” By Gum, Son, I hope so.
But why should one be content with one supercar when one could have a convoy? There is that STUNT (number plate references) fella who sports a couple of Range’s and Rolls’ on top of the lower, sleeker numbers, all parked neatly on the double yellows. But his cars are merely black. There’s that chap, Khan, whose cavalcade is all gold plated, including my beloved Aventador (how could my heart be transformed into a mere whore amongst automobiles?) and, most impressively, the 6×6 wheel drive Mercedes that, frankly, is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen parked on the street since my trip to Srinagar in the early Nineties. Admittedly, that one did have guns. I sometimes wish we could have the same self-respect and dignity as the French did at the Cannes Film Festival when (formerly named) P. Diddy showered the promenade with cash. The locals ignored him and the money. In London, we whoop like banshees at the outrageous and this seasonal car show is no exception judging by the phalanxes of happy snappers in evidence. Me included.
Then there is the noise, Oh, the noise. For a petrol head, this is a call from heaven even without the need to promise a hundred virgins. By luck rather than judgement, I work at one end of their race track and live at the other. As I walk into the park or await my 148 chariot, they are under starters orders at Hyde Park Corner and they’re off. A scream of noise cut short by the speeding restrictions of Park Lane, passed the hotels and car garages where similar thoroughbreds are pitted awaiting their turn. The stop start nature of Marble Arch and the cruel traffic lights down to Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park must be frustrating for our daredevil pilots, judging by the deafening revolutions of the over powered engines at low speed, but then, happy days, they arrive at Shepherd’s Bush roundabout (and my bedroom window) where the tension is released. From a standstill at the lights, when the constant high pitched scream is chilling, clutches are released and paddles are pressed as these 200mph plus monsters are catapulted up the dual carriageway past Westfield with only a momentary deceleration at the roundabout before the unbridled flat-out bliss of the Westway and back into the West End. The later at night, the emptier the roads, the faster the cars, the louder the sport. To say that my sleep is interrupted is an understatement but, where I imagine most people would find this unbearable, I relish every beat of piston as they fashion the fantasies of my dreams.
Maybe this reckless behaviour is down to safety in numbers. There can be no disputing that supercars are more prevalent than litter in central London at this time of year. A walk along any Mayfair thoroughfare produces an instant almanac of Ferraris, Lambos, Maserati’s, Bugatti’s, Rolls and Porsches, all with a distinctive bespoke element rather like a luxury “Pimp My Ride.” The manufacturers even launch special editions to celebrate our Mecca to machinery. On a wander around Berkeley Square recently, I passed the Rolls Royce showroom where the new Black Badge snarled at me. I’m sure it will sell by the tonne.
It would certainly have a little trouble parking in Cannes where the single lane traffic crawls along the seafront, before haemorrhaging into the August nightmare of heat and jam blocked highways. My dream supercar would have blown up. I guess that’s why there were relatively few of them when I passed through the town on a holiday with friends last week. We had come down to the town from our hillside retreat to enjoy the beach. This is best done in style. The Beach Club was entirely child friendly with provision for all appetites, whether burger or carpaccio, OJ or Rosé, bedecked with sun loungers, umbrellas, mist sprays and inflatables. The kids had a riot.
I, on the other hand, became a voyeur of the Carlton Hotel’s club next door. Like an all-conquering Phoenician or Babylonian horde, our cousins invaded towards the middle of the afternoon accompanied, like any prosperous army without ready access to fast cars, by an entourage of some of the most beautiful prostitutes that I have ever seen in my life. I was mesmerised. I could not fathom how the girls actually fitted into their sequinned swim suits and bejewelled bikinis. But fit they did. I was even more spell bound when they slipped dutifully onto their banquettes with only buckets of fizz for company, whilst their hosts wrapped white shawls around their waists, to cover their disrespectful Hawaiian shorts, faced East and were led in prayer by an Imam. Total respect to that. Hotels. Faith. Girls. Yachts. Cars. Time I dropped this atheist stance, me thinks.