Alesha Dixon: sinking fast?

Gorgeous in 2008

The sad decline of previous Triple P favourite, Alesha Dixon, continues. Oh how we loved her with her infectious laugh, formidable thighs and Orville the Duck dress on Strictly Come Dancing two years ago. A hit (if not a very good) CD followed and a pleasing apperance in FHM. All seemed bright for the 31 year old from glamourous Welwyn Garden City (the former home of Shredded Wheat).

But, oh dear, the BBC in its endless quest to court the "yoof" market, kicked 66 year old Arlene Philips off the judging panel, despite over 40 years experience as a choreographer, to be replaced by Miss Dixon. Huge protests followed and there were accusations of ageism that were taken so seriously that Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, called on the BBC to explain itself (to no response). Unfortunately, Miss Dixon confirmed her critics worse fears by being totally inept as a judge. Her performance restricted to just parroting previous judges opinions in an annoyingly ungrammatical way. She has just confirmed the fear that whilst wiggling about in miniscule sequinned outfits she is a star as a talking head she isn't.

Grumpy in 2009

Even worse was to come last week when she was pictured being turned away from the Funky Buddha nightclub. One story is that the bouncers didn't know who she was. The other is that she was trying to bring ten men into the club which was either full or they, sensibly, didn't want ten men in there to two women (the proportion of her party). All in all she has come out of the affair looking like a spoilt, jumped up minor celebrity who nobody likes. When the tabloid press turns on you in Britain you are doomed. So long Alesha.
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Dangerous Umbrellas!

No, not those weilded by an insane Britney; I mean the spiky terrors carried around London in our current wet spell. Now, Agent Triple P hates umbrellas at the best of times as they are hazourdous in the extreme to someone of our height. Even worse, we have decided, than open ones are those carried under the arms of people in confined spaces such as the corridors of the Underground or along Oxford Street. Don't carry these dangerous implements horizontally! They stick out behind you further than you think and, given our sensitive areas are still somehat sensitive from our nasty operation, we don't appreciate spikes swaying around near our nether regions. If a similar shaped load was being carried on a lorry it would have to have a protective rubber ball, or some such, covering the spike. This should be compulsory for umbrellas being carried in built up areas!
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No more long lunches in Italy?

Rotondi. Far to thin to be trustworthy.

So, an Italian minister, the appropriately named Gianfranco Rotondi, has decided that Italy's habitual two hour lunchbreak is bad for the economy. Well, Agent Triple P spent a lot of time in Italy in the 1980s and always thought the long lunch was an excellent idea. Certainly in Rome two hours would have been considered a rushed express lunch. We used to leave the office at 1.00pm and get back about 4.30pm, at the earliest.

In fact, the biggest lunch Agent Triple P ever had was in Rome. We were supposed to meet a business contact but he bailed out at the last moment and instead, bizarrely, sent his fiance, Princess M, and her equally aristocratic lady friend instead. We went to a Tuscan restaurant near the Borghese gardens. We started with deep fried cheese, olives and rice balls in breadcrumbs while we looked at the menu. Then we had an antipasto plate of cold meats and olives. Then pasta and fagioli soup. Then a risotto. Then Cotoletta a orecchio di elefante (veal flattened so it is like an elephant's ear). Next we had a green salad while we had a rest. Then some branzino (which I later discovered is sea bass -although in the south the same fish is called spigola). Then we had cheese and then chocolate tartufo ice cream. All this washed down with endless bottles of Vernaccia di san Gimignano.

After lunch (at about 5.15pm) we had to walk down the Via Veneto to my hotel. We really thought that we were going to die. Our stomach felt like it was about to explode. We had to lie down in a darkened room for four hours before we could face a light dinner in the Excelsior restaurant. The lie down was made more pleasant by the presence of Princess M who eventually persuded us of the importance of an emetic approach to post-prandial excess. It is amazing how close one gets to someone when trying to short cut a natural process like this.

Much refreshed we managed a light dinner of a lobster and salad.

Princess M did, eventually, marry our business contact but it didn't last very long as he was caught fathering an illegitimate child by a ballerina from the Rome ballet.
Good job we were on hand to comfort her over some more long lunches...
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Ford Edsel

Ford Edsel outside the Ritz-Carlton on California Street, San Francisco.

Agent Triple P was walking up (and very much up it is too) California Street in San Francisco last month when he came across a well known car he had never seen in real life before. Yes, it was a Ford Edsel! Now, one of Triple P's relations was a very senior executive of Ford in Detroit and had often regaled us with tales of the Edsel (which just pre-dated his time there).

"Isn't that the car that didn't sell because its radiator looked like a cunt?" observed Triple P's Canadian friend, S, in her usual ladylike manner.

Ah, but it was all more complex than that...

The idea for the Edsel came about because of one of those brand banding ideas that executives in large corporations often have. Ford, which had made a lot of money from the Thunderbird, were awash with cash but were concerned that Ford owners, once they had the money, tended to trade up to a Pontiac or Buick. What Ford needed was a slightly up market brand for young executives between their Ford and Mercury brands. The project was given the go-ahead and christened the "E-car" (for experimental) whilst Ford searched for a proper name. They asked their employees and got a staggering 18,000 suggestions.

Edsel Ford

By the time they had hacked this down to 10 names, Edsel was on the list. Edsel Ford was Henry Ford's son but by this time Ford was no longer a family firm but had gone public. The name "Edsel" was eventually picked by Ernest Beech, the Ford Chairman, in a calculated move to curry favour with the Ford family. This, however, backfired as Edsel's son, Henry Ford II, hated the idea. C.Gayle Warnock, Ford's head of public relations sent a memo to Richard Krafve the man running the Edsel project telling him that the name would lose 200,000 sales. People missheard the name as "pretzel", "dead cell" or mistook it for "Edson", a type of tractor.

Nevertheless, Ford pushed on with a huge campaign for what would actually be 18 models of car; using some of the names, such as Corsair, Ranger and Citation that came up in their top 10 from the suggestions from employees. It was the biggest publicity build up since Ford's Model A of 30 years before. Ford spent a staggering $10,000,000 on advertising including a $400,000 TV show featuring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Rosemary Clooney.

The car itself had a few interesting technological twists such as push button transmission in the centre of the steering wheel, electric bonnet release, ergonomically designed controls and self-adjusting brakes. The problem was that in their teaser style advertising, which never showed the car itself, Ford over-hyped the technological aspects to the point where the public was expecting something radical and not the rather run of the mill vehicle that emerged. Run of the mill apart from the radiator, of course. Roy Brown, the original designer wanted a thin, delicate slit but the Ford engineers determined that not enough air could enter the engine compartment through it and so the vertical opening got wider and wider until it reached its final Hustler magazine centrefold type proportions.

Ford reckoned they would sell 200,000 cars in the first year; an optimistic 5% of the market. Nearly 3 million Americans visited Ford dealers the first week of the car's launch in September 1957. The problem was hardly any of them bought the car. One of the biggest issues, of course, was the radiator. This was a time when all American cars had wide horizontal radiators.

1960 Oldsmobile.

Although Ford said that it was horse collar shaped or "like a Norman shield" others compared it to a toilet seat. Time magazine famously said that it "looked like an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon". Where the vagina allusion came from is not clear but the design of the grill does even seems to have labia majora and labia minora. There were a number of other problems with it other than its looks, although Ralph Nader commented; the Edsel is "Un-stylish at any speed".

There was never a dedicated Edsel factory; the cars were produced on the same assembly lines as Fords or Mercurys. The line had to be continually stopped and then production switched from the Ford or Mercury to the Edsel and then back again. This played havoc with build quality and many Edsells left the factory incomplete and dealers had to finish the installation of some components. Drivers didn't like the fact that the gear change was where the horn usually was; in the centre of the steering wheel.

The price banding didn't work out too well either. Designed to fit between the Ford and Mecury ranges the cheapest Edsell was actually cheaper than the most expensive Ford and the most expensive Edsel was more expensive than 2 out of the 4 Mercury models. Possibly more fatal was the fact that it was launched right at the beginning of the first recession Post War America had faced. People just weren't going to upgrade their cars at this time. It was also heavy on (premium grade) petrol at a time when even Americans were looking to fuel economy more than before. Despite disappointing sales of only 63,000 in the first year Ford persevered using incentives like cash back and even offering the chance to win a pony if you took one for a test drive. But in 1959 they only sold 45,000 cars. In the end Ford spent $400,000,000 on developing the Edsel and it sold just 111,000 cars before Ford pulled the plug in 1960.

Today only around 6,000 Edsels survive and, as is often the way, mint examples fetch over $100,000 each. Rare models like the 1960 convertible go for $200,000. They are almost too valuable to drive and the Washington Post said that "the car famous for its ugliness is now a rare and valued collector's item, like a Faberge egg." Ironic, given that during the name search in 1957, David Wallace, Fords' director of planning, asked pre-eminent America poet Marianne Moore for her ideas on possible names. Ford Faberge was one of her suggestions. Rather better than some of her other names which, given its reception, might have been more appropriate: Intelligent Whale, Bullet Cloisonne, Mongoose Civique and Utopian Turtletop.

Still, we were pleased to see this wonderful example of late-fifties automative styling (and in beautiful condition too) on the street.

"It doesn't look too bad", mused S, walking around it and stopping at the radiator. "But then I like cunts". Quite.
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Calendar Girl November: Daniela Sarahyba

So, Miss November is Brazilian model Daneiela Sarahyba. Her rather unpronounceable name (which, we are afraid will stop her hitting the big time) derives from her father who is of Lebanese descent.

Daniela's mother was also a model and she had her first job appearing on the cover of Brazilian baby magazine, Pais & Filhos, with her mother at the age of three days.

She is currently contracted to Benetton, Der Speigel and H&M.

She has also worked for C&A, GAP. Maidenform, Peugot and Victoria's Secret.

Does she look good in a vest? Yes!!!

Our favourite picture!


Perfect attire for a superyacht!

Nice rear!

And again!


Body painting: a Sports Illustrated inexplicable fascination...

Daniella is quite a nice looking woman and We are sure that she is a lovely human being but, for some reason, we just don't find her sexy. It could be the thin lips or the prominent cheekbones (and no doubt one of her relations will harangue us about this) but we just don't find her that attractive. Sad, but true!

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More ping pong?

Well, for some reason, visitors to this site have dropped to the mid two hundreds a day whilst those to the Further Adventures (which I stopped updating as visits to this one went up again) have increased to the four hundreds a day. Should I ping pong back to the other one? No, I don't think so! In fact, given that I put all the posts from the Further Adventures onto this one (except the final ping pong girl picture, as Agent DVD pointed out) then maybe I will just delete the Further Adventures completely to avoid confusion...
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Half a century ago...

Somehow we don't think HMS would have contributed to the Jazz Poll Ballot

HMS celebrated this milestone last week and it's not that far until Agent Triple P's or, indeed, Agent DVD's. Looking back, as an exemplar, to Playboy of October 1959 seems to confirm the fact that not much has changed; but then again... This particular issue does have some interesting things relevant to the life of HMS and what the life of HMS could have been like half a century ago (at least if he had lived in America)!

Cutting edge recording technology at the service of the classical repertoire

Fifty years ago now seems like another world. The definition of "young people", for Agent Triple P at least, really revovlves around the fact that the world as they remember it from childhood is really not that different from the way it is now. Whereas in fifty years we have gone through some major changes: the Cold War and its end, the Space Race and the Moon landings, the introduction of colour TV, the rise and fall of recorded sound media (vinyl records, music cassettes, eight track cartidges, CD, MP3), the revolution in home recording of TV and films (video cassettes, DVD, hard drive), increasing concern about the environment, attitudes to health regarding smoking, alcohol and diet, the shrinking of the world through jet airline travel and, above all, the effect of personal computing and the internet.

Some men really do enjoy talking about HiFi

Sometimes, people of Agent Triple P's age are disappointed with our experience of living in "the future". Where are all the gull-wing door electric cars that drive themselves? Where is the hypersonic airliner that can fly from London to Sydney in 90 minutes? Where are the hotels in orbit and on the Moon? Where are the household robots? Why aren't girls all wearing foil minskirts and purple wigs (actually you can find those if you look hard enough)? But then you look at what the computer on your desk can do at a few clicks of a mouse and then you realise that you are living in a science fiction future after all. But the future is less about hardware and more about software.

HMS has had his own two seater sports car in his time

Many things, however, haven't changed that much. Houses are still built to largely traditional designs; we don't all live in geodesic domes. Mens' suits are still largely as they were. Cars are more advanced, of course, but a 50 year old car is not that different as a mode of transport (four wheels, internal combustion engine, probably a manual gearbox still-at least in the UK) than a modern one.

HMS has also owned a French car

Modern airliners do not look that different from the De Havilland Comet. The future has encrusted a lot of superficial detail on what would be quite familiar to those from 1959. No, it is really the information technology revolution that would be surprising to our half century ago forebears. Any 1950s or 1960s view of a computer (if they even had one) would involve a vast machine tended by dozens of technicians producing punch cards from tapes. Really the only Science Fiction representation that thought far enough ahead (in the mid sixties) was Star Trek whose voice controlled computers storing data on a small, plain tablet about half the size of a match box was truly imaginative.

A trendy fold-away kitchen for people who are short of space in their homes

A very familiar camera for HMS

Playmate of the month Elaine Reynolds in trendy 1959 clothes

More Agent DVD's type than HMS' we would venture

Actress Elaine Stewart provides a contrasting offering that month. HMS enjoys a red-head in the bath

So, cars, music, HiFi, cooking, cameras and red-heads. Perhaps not so different from today after all!

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