Right now I am sitting in the back of a big black Audi A8, being chauffeur driven from Gatwick airport to my home in Hove. I've spent the last two days in Florence driving the brand new Bentley Brooklands. A chap called Peter Robinson is at the wheel, and though he’s no relation to the Peter Robinson whom I used to know and love working with at Autocar, he seems like a decent enough sort of bloke. Who can drive an A8 precisely how it was intended. Fast and smooth, just how you’d like to be driven at the end of a long two days away.
This is not normally my kind of world. This is not normally the kind of thing I do. This driving of £230,000 Bentleys and then being chauffeur driven home is, you imagine, usually the preserve of the highest of high flyers. And today I’ve had a taste of their world.
Except I haven’t, really. Last night I caught the 19.55 flight from Gatwick to Florence having got the train from Hove to Gatwick. By the time I arrived at the hotel in Florence it was already well past midnight, and although I hadn’t eaten properly all day I didn’t much feel like eating at that time, especially since everyone else had gone to bed. So I went to bed as well, and couldn’t get to sleep, as is usually the case in hotel rooms.
This morning I was up at 6.30 and on the road in the Benters by 8. And for three hours I just drove. And fell completely in love with the car. You can find out why when we publish the first drive tomorrow.
By midday I was back at the hotel, and by 4pm I’d written the main piece out of four different stories I’d been commissioned to write about the Bentley. Waiting at Florence airport for an hour I wrote another, then on the plane I wrote most of the other two. And ate a heroically bad meal courtesy of Meridianna Airways (don't ask). That was an hour ago.
And now we’re back where we started, in the back of a well-driven A8. Which is pulling up outside my flat.
Just another day at the office, dear. Not.