Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Eighty Years On

80 years ago fighter aircraft clashed over the skies of south-east England. The nation was gripped by the spectacle and the fears that accompanied each news broadcast with the sombre recitations of missing aircraft and bomb damage. Across the country huge numbers now lived lives very different to those of a year before - children evacuated, blackouts, many non-essential activities cancelled 'for the duration'.

Now, for the first time in my life, I can dimly grasp how it must have been for my parents (my mother a teenager at the time). We too face a deadly foe, the covid-19 infection, and we too listen to news broadcasts dominated by the fight against it. The daily figures of infections, deaths and lockdowns mimic the restrained (and censored) bulletins of the BBC back then. We may not be in a pub after 10pm; we are restricted in visiting family and friends and, until quite recently, the old slogan "Is your journey really necessary?" applied in full force on public transport.

In 1940 sport came to an end. Today it survives in fits and starts but my local football club is unable to admit any fans and without fans has no income. It may not survive 'the duration'.

The second world war dragged on for years, probably far longer than anyone ever imagined that it could but at least my parents could see a way forward, through the application of sufficient military force. With an infectious virus that shows no signs of diminishing naturally, uncertain prospects for a vaccine and an increasingly restive population, we really do seem to be where they must have been during the worst days of the blitz, angry but helpless, waiting and waiting for things to turn round.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Even now you ask questions

 About a year ago I compiled a list of silly names bestowed on cars by their manufacturers for my frankly, rather brilliant, series,  101 Things I Refuse To Do Before I Die . These monickers were sufficiently off-putting and ludicrous for me to safely avouch that I would never buy the wretched vehicles. That should have been the end of the matter. 

I am at the moment a satisfied driver of the Skoda Octavia. (Now there's a nice, sensible name. Easy to pronounce and no head-scratching about what it means). Sadly the worthy folk at Skoda did not see fit to follow their own, fine, example. Today they emailed me to suggest I take an interest in their latest electric SUV (yes, it had to be an SUV like most of the cars with stupid names that I excoriated back in October 2019). This one is called the ENYAQ IV and it looks like this:

I'm glad they are excited. I'd love to be able to proceed to the excited stage. Even a mild frisson of interest would be nice in these difficult times. But I am, naturally, held frozen by contemplation of the name chosen for this little, boxy thing.

First, what is this mysterious word? I have something of a background in IT and am aware that the first commercial computer, built soon after WWII ended, was called ENIAC (the Electronic Numeral and Integrated Computer). It does seem that Skoda have chosen a name remarkably similar, albeit they have shoe-horned a Y and a Q into places that they really do not belong. The use of the Q, in particular, is of course terribly fashionable amongst designers, especially when they drop the normally-accompanying U (Yes, Nissan Qashqai, hang your head in shame).

But what on earth does ENYAQ stand for? It must be an acronym for it is presented in block capitals. (We shall have to pass over consideration of how on earth I missed the preceding three versions). Here are some suggestions, proposed by the top-level emergency quick-think-of-something team here at Ramblings Central.

  • Effervescent Natural Youth Alliance of Quebec
  • Enthusiastically Neurotic Yet Audaciously Quixotic
  • Extremely Nice Yet Awfully Quick
  • Every Night You Are Quaint

And if you have any suggestions do please send them in to the usual address, where we shall glance cursorily over them and promptly send them back. Meanwhile, shall I take up the offer to keep up-to-date with the latest "straight to my inbox"? Gosh, I don't know, I like it when emails meander around a bit, get classified as spam and are rejected, have all their special characters stripped out, get reformatted, translated into classical Urdu, spend some time in someone else's inbox, return for a rest to the transmitting server and then finally drift in, yawning a bit and ready to settle down. Gives them a bit of style, teaches them the ways of the world and how to smile through every misadventure. But I wager that, even after all those capers in cyberspace, we will still be no wiser as to what the hell ENYAQ means.