It would appear to me that the good people at Maybach are avid readers of Swellboy and clearly took on my enthusiastic celebration of the exotic and expensive cars that throng London streets in the summer – among them many Maybachs. It is the only plausible explanation I can think of for the dramatic last-minute stay of execution granted to Maybach. I understand that the luxury car marque was being readied for retirement, so it was with glee that I read in Car magazine that the Maybach has been given a reprieve; I can hear billionaires exhaling in relief – or at least I would be able to were the passenger cabin of the Maybach not such perfect insulation, protecting the rich from the sights, sounds and smells of this quotidian sublunary world.
Anyway, to mark the sudden Lazaran return of this plutocrat’s barge, one morning a Maybach and driver appeared outside the front door of the ancestral seat in Shepherd’s Bush. I have no idea whether the driver is sold with the car or not, but given that the Germans think of everything and that the driver was in fact German and from Stuttgart, I would incline towards believing that he came factory-fitted, rather than being an after-market extra.
The back of the Maybach wherein I sprawled is more or less large enough for a game of football (albeit only five-a-side) and during half time, while the players are off the pitch, there are three television screens on the wall that divides the driver from his passengers; these can synchronised and adjusted so that they show different programmes, or, as was the case here, they can be synched to the satnav. And it was this that finally taught me the meaning of the term “back-seat driver”.
We were on the way to Gatwick Airport, I was late and we encountered heavy traffic. Seizing the moment, I took control of the wheel in as much as I started to fiddle about with the satnav using the remote control and before long I was directing “my” Maybach and driver down country lanes that ended in five-barred gates and ramblers’ routes; roaring through quiet suburbs only to find our way blocked by roadworks; and passing one country wedding: had I not been late for my flight, I would have stopped and tried to make a bit of pocket money acting as chauffeur – brides note that there is enough room for you, your train, your spouse, all the bridesmaids and ushers and a medium-sized marquee.
As it happened I was in time for my flight, which was just as well as I think even the Maybach would have had trouble getting me from Sussex down to the Marbella Club Grill in time for dinner.