Sunday, 7 December 2014

Christmas Dinner/Meeting 3 December 2014, Bristol Hotel, Warsaw, Poland

Christmas time for the fearless CCC Crew in the Winter of 2014

Nineteen CCC members assembled for this rather delicious Christmas dinner at the Bristol. On this occasion 'ladies in red' were present which lifted the tone and general festive nature of the proceedings no end. No classic cars appeared, one member was ill with flu (Marek Kurylowicz) and another tycoon suddenly needed to sew up a huge deal abroad in order to fund his fluctuating obsession with E-Type Jaguars (Ian Booth).

After welcoming Mirek Staniszewski, the star of  the Trading Up programme (yet another E-Type Jaguar and a nostalgic sequence on the entertaining 'Maluch' or Polski Fiat 126p), the crowd of car enthusiasts engaged in sundry small talk and car banter for some considerable time neatly blocking the entrance to the dining room and causing endless frustration for the dedicated hotel staff in their work. 

I did some research on Maluchs when they were everywhere in Poland in the early 1990s. This small digression might amuse:

The Polski Fiat 126p was manufactured in Poland from 1973 to 2000 under licence from Italian Fiat. They were hugely popular  and eventually came to be referred to officially by their nickname ‘Maluch’. This Polish word means a toddler but is sometimes used to refer colloquially to the male organ

These inexpensive cars assumed an iconic status in socialist Poland  and featured  regularly  in comedy films with  the car as the star. They  were notoriously unreliable  and I witnessed  many groups of men pushing them or with their heads optimistically crammed in the engine bay, fingers pointing  authoritatively and cigarettes dropping ash as the rain pelted down  from leaden skies. 

A high-speed  crash in one of these was usually fatal. Many jokes circulated about them. ‘Why is that horse in the cart winking at us, Staszek? ‘Oh, he probably wants to pass. ‘Why are we driving along this wall, Staszek?’ ‘Its not a wall, you idiot, its the kerb.’

A slightly rusty  'Maluch' I photographed in Torun in 1993
together with fire-breathing dragon

The food was quite a number of notches above the average we have been offered in the past. A couple of those courses were true gourmet productions. Chatting to Andrew, the Irish manager of the Bristol, they have a new Portuguese chef. Hope he stays as it is still sunny and warm in Lisbon!

During the meal we discussed the 10 club activities we managed to engage in last year and their degree of success. Bristol dinners were fine as ever. Everyone seemed very pleased with most events, particularly those that involved driving our cars some distance in a large group such as the excellent Somianka Dwor excursion. The Historical Air Picnic was a great day out as was the tour of the Modlin Fortress together with children and the attacks by terrifying bats. 

The 'Summer Picnic' did not really come off (however Blazej Zulawski, myself and my blondynka in the TC had a lovely lazy afternoon by the river on a small beach in the sun with excellent wine and food). A few staunch members did attend the champagne celebration of the 110th Anniversary of the Meeting of the Hon.Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce at the Midland Hotel Manchester.

There was an element of justified dissatisfaction expressed concerning the large periods of inactivity, hunger and thirst after the official wine tasting and lunch but before the evening concert at the wine bar event. The wet, cold and windy weather did not help the general mood. I must confess to being as surprised as anyone else at the way promised goodies failed to materialize. I apologize to those members who felt rather negative about the whole drawn-out thing.

After playing musical chairs 'to increase social interaction' before the pudding, deftly directed by Guy Pinsent with mathematical exactitude (the reason I became slightly confused), we were treated to an excellent talk by our guest speaker Mathieu Spencer. 

Mathieu is an interesting guy. In Warsaw as a practicing chiropractor he provides treatment and rehabilitation for musicians suffering from injuries. Helping Musicians Naturally Get Rid of Pain & Improve Performance. This is an important service.

He chose as his subject Stars and Their Cars.  He began by pointing out how his interest in classic cars began with his father's purchase of a superb Ford Mustang (but not this actual one!).

He made some very interesting original points about the psychological motivation of stars when buying cars. Here we learned how personal values are established through the cross-fertilization of three individual aspects.

One observation that struck me was that stars are often working at the cutting edge of their professions - they have to be - and choose technologically state of the art cars to enhance this image of themselves as avant garde operatives anxious to be taken seriously.

Miles Davis and his Lamborghini Miura illustrate the above point. Mathieu Spencer standing on the left with refreshing glass. Michael Motz on the right has an 'Ah ha' moment.
We were then treated to some excellent period photographs and descriptions which appear below.

Clark Gable with his fabulous 1935  Duesenberg SJ
Al Jolson with his Mercedes-Benz S on the Warner Brothers lot
Quality, flair and performance

Rita Hayworth nonchalantly leaning against her 1941 Lincoln Continental sedan

A diffident Elvis beside his 1956 Continental Mark II
(the Continental Division of the Ford Motor Company)

Audrey Hepburn enhances a Ferrari 250 PF cabrio in Rome, March 1961

Steve McQueen in his ultra-rare Jaguar XK SS worth possibly in excess of $25 million today

You might like now to click on this interesting link to Jay Leno's Garage and driving this XK SS      

Paul Newman in the 1968 Gurney Rislone Special Eagle on the set of Winning, his movie about the Indianapolis 500

A discomforted Chrissie Shrimpton watches Mick Jagger have his 'particulars' taken by a London traffic policeman in London after 'a minor incident' in his Aston Martin DB6 in 1966
Adopting a Daily Mail tone and style, Brigitte Bardot  'shows off her well-toned pins' and 'pert derriere' in a very suggestive pose against a Mini during a refreshment pause in filming Two Weeks in September - Whitehall, London, 1966. No doubt this caused a few elderly civil servants to  have an attack of the vapours. 

Roman Polanski in his Ferrari 275 GTB/4 (chassis 09729GT) ordered new in November 1966 as a present to himself to celebrate his early success. Rosso Chiaro paintwork. Under the ‘accessories’ section on the original order form, he casually added a Mini Cooper S 1275cc. This Ferrari was the car for which he held the fondest memories. It was also the one which brought back the saddest thoughts as it was a favourite of his late wife, Sharon Tate, who was murdered by Charles Manson’s followers in 1969. After her death he presented the Ferrari to her father, Colonel Paul James Tate.

                                   The Polanski Ferrari sold by by Kidston SA in 2013

This 'interesting' photo of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin beside his Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith is by Benjamin Auger 1971

Now what was this all about I asked myself having never seen the photograph before.

The result of my research:

This is a still associated with Serge Gainsbourg's first concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson. Serge unintentionally 
collides in his Rolls Royce Silver Wraith with a teenage nymphet on a bicycle called Melody Nelson. When he gets out of his car to try and help, he instantly falls in love with her. The French are preoccupied, nay obsessed, with the idea of such coup de foudres I have noticed. Parisian newspapers print advertisements detailing chance sightings, the meeting of eyes, instant desire and requests for contact details. No criticism there. Well anyway, Serge and Melody begin a torrid affair and embark on a hectic journey of sex and passion. I break off at this point lest you feel as 'The Shepherd' I am attempting to thoughtlessly vitiate the CCC membership.

For more on this Nabokovian  'eccentricity'  see

or if you have French

This interesting photograph shows the French film director Claude Lelouch in 1976 checking the attachment of his camera to his Mercedes in order to film in 35mm
C’était un rendez-vous,  a short film about driving fast and furiously to a romantic assignation at Montmatre in Paris in the early hours of the morning. I told you about the French! He dubbed the soundtrack with eloquent heel and toe gear changes from his Ferrari  275 GTB. Available on DVD it is an unforgettable 9 minute experience.  Brilliant.
For more on this with an interesting text in English and a video interview and commentary with Lelouch in French as he retraces the identical route at the same time of day in the same Mercedes in 2008. 

Interestingly hoften repeats in wondrous surprise 'C’est la même lumière!'

Rendezvous is available here:

I think you can still buy the DVD which is better in sound and picture of course. Brilliant with the sound turned right up!

His commentary on the making of the film is here with English subtitles:

As Mathieu pointed out:

Not much changes in life! George Clooney in the 1960 Corvette his father bought

Nina Simone in her Mercedes

Mathieu then got us all together to sing a song by Janis Joplin! It worked much better than I imagined and taught me the other lyrics of this popular lament among the more modestly endowed classic car owners.

All singing from the same Hymn Sheet!

The dinner concluded with another plea by 'The Shepherd' for suggestions as to activities in 2015. We agreed that the present CCC email list would be sent to members. All individual CCC Members were free to make suggestions to the entire membership (not necessarily through the chairman) and even perhaps organize an event 'off their own bat' (an English cricketing idiom meaning for our Polish friends  - 'spontaneously' - 'to do something without being asked to'). This occurred a couple of welcome times in 2014 (Przemek and Blazej).

We also decided to investigate the idea of setting up a dedicated CCC stand at Autonostalgia in May. Michael Wrobel to advise.

All in all a highly entertaining dinner! And so it's goodnight from him....

Those present:

Paul Ayre
Iain Batty
Paul Blackman
Neil Crook
Michael Moran
Michael Motz
Blazej Zulawski
Bill Flint
Eric Hallgren
Mathieu Spencer
Guy Pinsent and his wife Emmy
Michael Wrobel
Mirek Staniszewski
Pawel Esse
Jacek Kolodziejski
Michal Barlowski
Ania Łoskiewicz
Apologies from Marek Kurylowicz and Ian Booth

                                                            Michael Moran (Chairman  aka 'The Shepherd')