Freesteel Blog » Euromold by road

Euromold by road

Saturday, December 8th, 2007 at 12:07 pm Written by:

The incomprehensible journey began last week from Liverpool, via Kings ‘ Lynn to drop in on grandfather and Lancastria survivor, then stayed the night at a friend’s house in Orpington outside of London. This was where we picked up Martin in the morning.

A couple hours later as we drove through Dover there was a horrible rattling sound coming from the car engine compartment which caused me to pull over immediately and suffer lots of unnecessary friction over likelihood of missing our booked ferry times — which was of no consequence anyway because the ticket turned out to be valid for any time that day. There was oil dripping onto the ground.

By the time the breakdown man found us, we worked out that it was probably the power steering pump which had failed. Not enough the stop the car from driving once you took the “fan” belt off (it had to be cut off since all the de-tensioning bolts were stuck). We could keep going for as long as the battery held out and the ferry company didn’t notice any problem. We had the option of staying in England to get the car fixed the next day, or attempting the same in Dunkirk, France where we didn’t speak the language and didn’t know the score.

Owing to the score in England being so poor, we took our chances and got help from a random friendly French guy in the ferry car park who phoned ahead to a garage and also guided us through town using his GPS. The night was spent in the empty cheap hotel next to the full cheap hotel we had heard of (brands work when you travel away from home) which charged us 35 euros for a three person room with free WiFi and a convenient hypermarket across the car park. This was more like it.

I’m not sure why they felt it necessary to install floodlights to shine directly into our window, though.

The repair bill set us back a lot of money, most of it for the genuine Citroen part (not some refurbished unit which would have been more than adequate) — a stupid power steering pump which I don’t even care about, and could have been solved if I could have bought a shorter grooved fan-belt that avoided it, or cleaned out the entire useless mechanism of the broken pump so that all that was left was a wheel.

We got away at midday, and reached Wiesbaden where one of Martin’s brothers lives in a house built on an allotment in time for an excellent supper. Then Becka and I headed down to Tuebingen in the dark through the rain on the German autobahn with no cat’s eyes or even apparently any of glass beads included in the paint so you could see the white lines from more than five metres away.

It was a hard drive.

Becka had a room booked in a hostel connected to the Max Planck institute. Since we were going to arrive so late, they left the key in a combination safe by the front door which was opened by pulling out and twisting the plastic handle 180 degrees — but not pulling so hard that you snapped it off. I should carry a pair of pliers in the car for the next time that happens. Oh well. We got in after 20 minutes of forcing the stump.

I caught the train back to the north at Frankfurt where the Euromold trade show is every year, and failed to rendezvous with Martin at the train station, so he waited there for a several hours. I don’t have a mobile phone, unlike everybody else in the world, and have noticed that pay-phones are getting more and more broken, rather than clean and pristine because nobody is using them anymore.

I gave up, paid my way into Euromold for a half-day ticket (last year there was a side-exit you could slip through), found some Cimco people, got them to phone Martin who was outside, borrowed one of their exhibitor’s tickets, went back and handed it through the railings, and watched him get busted for trying to get in on a ticket that had been used once that day but not checked out.

He got through at another desk, and we were able to collect our exhibitor’s passes later that day from our friends who were already in there at Hall 8.0. Everything this year was the same as last year, and the year before. The lay out of the companies stays the same. These trade shows seem more and more ridiculous the longer I go to them and recognize the sheer futility, having got past the naive belief that somewhere somehow it makes sense to someone but I don’t know enough to see it.

These trade shows do perform a vital purpose, different to what people usually say they are which is little understood. You don’t need to believe it for it to work. Analyzing it is like analyzing the purpose of the manned space programme. There isn’t one. The reasons for the establishment are often forgotten and out-dated, and retrospective justifications on the basis of unlikely and irrelevant spin-offs don’t really get to the heart of why it persists now. There’s more of a social purpose to them, like a public park in a city whose justification can’t be made on pure economic grounds. If we got to the purpose directly, the whole thing could be done a heck of a lot cheaper and more effectively. But that’s another rant for another day.

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