Expat Asides

The Car Show
By James Clapham

In the UK, the NEC in Birmingham used to host a bewildering array of car shows that would stop the lesser man in his tracks and drool accordingly. The BBC also used to show the NEC live, when the ever-unchanging Noel Edmonds took you, the dear viewer, into a realm of entertainment way before the likes of Mr. Blobby came into the picture. (Note for Canadians and other exotic species: YouTube Mr. Blobby and welcome to the madness of British Saturday night viewing. That and Ant and Dec ruined my life, I tell you…)

The first time that I had ever been to see a car show was last year in Edmonton and I went with an American friend who also happened to have been a manager at one of the local car dealerships, while I had been involved in checking automotive interior quality for the last 10 or so years. We had a whale of a time going from car to car, making fun out of each car that deigned to display piano black fingerprint-loving plastic and silly exterior decals on the so-called sports models that would fall off in embarrassment after their first Albertan winter. Salesmen would wilt under our combined sarcasm, and we walked away happy in the knowledge of a job well done.

This year I went with Mrs. C. On that sentence alone, you can tell how much she loves me. We also went with Baby C as well, with wifey tromping him about in the baby carrier. This, for me, was a more important visit than the laddish endeavour of the year before. Now we were semi-serious and having a gander at minivans, large SUVs and potential commuter cars. I still believe the section with the luxurious cars had some more shag pile put down than the “jeans and cowboy hats” part of the show. Regardless, like Edmonton itself, the displays weren’t that showy, the salesmen were laid back and at one point there were free cookies. Because… free cookies!

I was suitably impressed at the turnout, all the while avoiding manufacturers who seemed to be tractor-beaming in potential customers with too much ear hair. Personally I was going for the car makers that attracted people around my age and saying “huh, that’s pretty nice” in a semi-surprised way. We went away happy as I had seen some cars and Mrs. C had bumped into some old friends to chat away with.

And a lot of the piano black has been replaced with stitched fake leather. Getting better, I approve…