Saturday, 9 February 2008


I recently bumped into an old friend on a flight from China, and I felt compelled to repeat what he told me, what follows is the how he told me his story:

It all started with him telling me about the love of his life, a partner whom he loved and cherished, someone he had ups and downs with, but ultimately the good times far outweighed the problems that everyone faces in a relationship. He felt that they were the perfect couple, each satisfying their needs perfectly. Then one day he was summonsed to a room where he was told that his partner of 18 years had tragically and very suddenly died – he was distraught and couldn’t think straight, he went through the full range of emotions - disbelief, anger, sorrow and frustration. But ultimately a deep depression set over him, and he felt that there was no future, and things would never be the same again.
To make matters worse everyone kept telling him to go out and find another partner as soon as possible, and if he couldn’t find a partner quickly then maybe he would need to alter and lower his expectations, and accept someone to fill the gap.
He couldn’t accept this advice and prayed for a resurrection, searching for ways to bring life back into his partners limp corpse. He hoarded memories and memorabilia, around his home, and recalled stories about their relationship with anyone that would listen. For months afterwards the media continued to cover the death and every time he turned on the TV he was reminded of his departed loved one.
Finally encouraged by friends and relatives he conceded and tried to find solace in another. He searched and searched to find a new partner, initially all he found was disappointment and rejection. The years of being loyal to one partner meant that his ability to communicate and sell himself to somebody new was difficult; contentment had meant that he had let himself go, and he could no longer compete with younger, leaner and more virile competition. He came to the conclusion that he would never find a perfect match and he would have to settle for anything that would accept him.
Lowering his expectations he finally did find someone who could see his virtues and welcomed his previous loyalty’s, at first there was excitement, but soon this turned into despair – it was a false relationship that didn’t have the same spark as before. It quickly turned into a relationship of convenience and the future looked bleak.
Then it happened, the hours of dreaming and hoping finally came to something. He had a call to say that his beloved had been resurrected and that life had been breathed back into the progressively rotting corpse. His heart pounded, and a sweat appeared on his brow, feelings welled up and produced tears of joy. He phoned around his friends to tell them of the news, and despite their words of caution he continued to race back into the ‘perfect’ relationship.
It was the day he had waited for; he was to be joined with his life partner once again. She looked, dressed, and smelled the same – but something was missing. All of their old friends had disappeared and some new strange people with different customs and a strange language had invaded the relationship. There was a lack of substance and reality about it all. She promised a future but couldn’t deliver; this was a fake resurrection, one with familiarities but ultimately filled with mistruths and dashed hopes. Expectations were tempered, but even these were missed. The relationship could never have gone back to how it was before, too much had happened and one of them had no soul and no sense of what had made the relationship so strong previously. Reluctantly he decided to end it for the sake of both sides; he took the pictures down from the walls in his house, put away the keepsakes, and locked away the memories into a psychological box.

Of course he wasn’t talking about the women in his life, but about the company he worked for – the company MG-Rover! I sat there amazed to here his story and the emotional roller coaster ride he had been on over the last few years. This was a guy who had worked at the company for the majority of his adult life, only to be told one day that his job had gone and he needed to find somewhere else to work. He relayed his story as if he had lost his wife, and was told to find a new one straight away, he then told me of his rejection from company after company because of his age and skill gap, and after a trying a new career, all he could do was compare the new with the old. When he was offered a chance to join NAC UK – an enormous sense of hope and delight convinced him that it would be the same company, 12 months later he has given up trying to convince himself that the new Longbridge could be anything like the old, and has decided to move onto pastures new.

It is always interesting to hear how people were affected by the collapse of MG-Rover – this was the first time I had heard someone use a personal relationship to describe the depth of feeling and emotional turmoil that the closure had on him and his life – even after almost 3 years. I guess the fact that I’m still writing about it – means it affected me more than I thought!


erik (laofan) said...

is it you who is the old friend, Paul?

Paul Stowe said...

Actually No - Despite loving the place and the brand - I never worked for NAC UK, and certainly wouldn’t have felt that losing a job compared with losing a partner! The person knows who he is - and although he has admitted to never reading my BLOG's, I feel it would be wrong to publish his name without permission (His initials are SL)

MGBMAN72 said...

I can totally relate to his story. I am only 2 years older than you Paul, but MG has been running through my veins for as long as I can remember. As a kid, the MGB was the first car I fell in love with. When I was 12, the Abingdon plant closed. I was devastated and hounded my father for months that we needed to buy one (having no concept of used cars) as I would never be able to get one. May of 1981 came round and my father left the house. A few minuets later, he called me. I remember it like it was yesterday, he said that he was bringing home an MGB that he had traded his boat for. I was plastered to the window. I still get as excited to see my 1972 Harvest Gold MGB as I did then. We have been together for 26 years now.
I know what your friend has gone through. How many times have I been uplifted to hear that I might be able to buy a new MG here in the States only to be let down. BMW, Phoenix, NAC and SAIC. I am done now. Even if the Oklahoma plant does come true, I don't think I will even care about a new MG. I'll just keep driving/enjoying my B and follow the soap opera from the sidelines.
Thanks for a great blog!