Archive for January, 2010

The lost art of the handshake

Every day I seem to find new examples of how very different the Brits and the yanks are. There’s one area where they are sadly very much the same – the handshake.  I checked on Google. There are 2, 690,000 results on “how to: handshake” and yet both nations continue make a complete Horlicks of it. Maybe it is the confusing instructions relating to “pumping to convey sincerity” that confused matters…


Most likely you’ll be offered a limp, damp thing that is jiggled loosely next to yours. This is generally a pretty pointless experience. Then there are those who have heard that a “firm” handshake is important. They apparently interpret this as a grip strength exercise and literally squeeze your proffered extremity until the bones creak.

I wear a largish ring on my right hand – the hand that was recently subjected to the latter indignity. A sharp pain accompanied the alleged shake which left an indentation of the ring in the two neighbouring fingers. That’s not a handshake – that’s an assault. I imagine that this is some sort of Napoleon complex style over-compensation – the giver of the handshake was definitely the sort that has sand kicked in his face.

Both nations should look to the Germans  who seem to have the hang of it. In the meantime I think I’ve got two options: – 1) wear a sling at all times or 2) go for the preemptive strike and crush to save my own metatarsals.

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Baby, it’s cold outside

We’ve recently had rather a lot of weather. Snow to be precise.


The Car

Snow isn’t usually a big deal here not least of all because they’ve got the hang of it so usually fairy diggers come to scrape the roads off before you need to go anywhere. Of course people do drive EVEN worse than usual in the snow (clue: when your wheels are spinning, ease OFF the accelerator) but you just give them a really wide berth. So the other day when woke up to all the snow, I didn’t think it would cause much of a problem. Wrong.

What I’d always thought of as a mostly flat driveway might as well have been Everest with snow on it. Particularly when that snow has been compacted by several tons of German engineering (Vorsprung durch Gewicht). The thing is, you don’t get any traction when the car’s size zero weight is distributed over massive tyres. And the rear wheel drive doesn’t make it any easier. Ok it isn’t a secret that this isn’t a winter car but I only needed to move it 10 metres onto a cleared road where it would have been fine. After much digging and even resorting to chemical heat I gave up and spent the next 2 days as a pedestrian.

During those two days I realised that what I really needed was snow chains  – but that’s crazy if you only need them for your own drive …..which is when I realised the true genius of US school busses.

When you look at the back of a school bus  – for instance when you are trapped behind them for ages as they crawl along, not allowing overtaking, as they drop each chubby child off at his or her own letterbox – you see all these dangling chains underneath. I always thought they were for strapping useful things to the bottom of the bus; such as tools, spare wheels, unruly children etc. It turns out that these are brilliant automatic snow chains. When they are needed they are sort of dangled in front of the wheels to provide traction and then they just hang out of the way when it isn’t needed. I think we need those on the Lotus. Metal chains would be too heavy – so maybe cute little carbon fibre ones. Am I on to something?

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