Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Oliver Winterbottom Diaries – May, June and July

With the summer show season just beginning, things are picking up for Oliver Winterbottom. In today's blog post, we'll get you right up to speed with what he's been up to of late. 

2 May – Amazon UK now have six books (more coming), so thats four gone since 19 April.

4 May – I attend the dignified Service of Thanksgiving for John Miles at Hingham Church, Norfolk. Very sadly missed. A privilege to have known and worked with him. He had the unusual trait of being totally non-political. This was a chance to say farewell and to catch up with many old Lotus faces.

5 May – Complete the slides and text notes for talks for the Bourne Motor Racing Club and the North Yorkshire Lotus Owners Club. No dates yet, but at least they are done!

7 May – Rob Ford from Club Lotus Avon opens discussion on my giving the club a talk in 2019. Happy to do so! Date being planned.

8 May – Meet an ex-Jaguar apprentice (10 years after me!), in my sister's local pub. He brought up so many names from those days that I had long forgotten. He was with an acquaintance who would bring his copy of my book for signature the following evening.

9 May – After a fascinating visit to Bletchley Park with my sister, I am myself with a signing pen. The gentleman arrived in the pub, but the book did not – it was elsewhere! OK, next time perhaps.

10 May – Arrange to give Club Lotus Avon a talk next year. Tuesday, 5 March 2019 date agreed.

11 May – The first edition of Absolute Lotus magazine arrives through my postbox. Richard Heseltine has done me (and Veloce) proud! A mention on the front cover, then in the Editorial, availability of the book in the "book & model" section, and then four pages with pictures of an in-depth interview. I wish this beautifully produced publication the very best acceptance.

Amazon UK have now re-priced the book again. It's gone down to £24.37.

15 May – Veloce monthly newsletter On The Grid informs that there are two new Jaguar books. Jaguar from the shop floor – Foleshill Road and Browns Lane 1949 to 1978 by Brian James Martin, and Jaguar E-type Factory and Private Competition Cars by Peter Griffiths. Both are of great interest to me. I don't seem to remember Brian Martin although we were in the same place at the same time! I plan to acquire these in due course.

18 May – An old colleague and friend, John, who lives in France, tells me he is buying the book. I await any (useful!) comments.

21 May – Another "free read" advertised on the internet by a different website to the two previous offers. I alert Veloce. Kevin Atkins at Veloce responds (edited below):
"The download doesn't contain a PDF, but a file in Apple Pages format, with a load of blurb and buttons to lure you into clicking. As is usual in these instances, I've submitted a DMCA take-down request, both to the WordPress site's author, and to WordPress themselves."

24 May – I like having an internet search for my book as it turns up all over the world. Today I have found it in Windsor (UK) Public Library and Toronto Public Library. On sale in Sydney Australia, New Zealand, Hamburg Germany, Singapore, and Galway Ireland. I do hope everyone enjoys it around the world. Amazon UK have sold another one, so that's five in stock.

29 May – My daughter Jane tells me she met two gentlemen last weekend who would like me to sign copies of the book for them. While not telling me who they are, she is organising it.

Stacey at the Barnham Broom Bell pub intends to buy the book. She says that Amazon have it at £24.37, but want money for shipping. Seems one needs to be lucky when using this source, as the price seems variable.

30 May – I visit Ketteringham Hall, the scene of happy days years ago in my early time at Lotus. These days, there is a tearoom overlooking the lake. I met someone whom I didn't remember but remembered me (this happens far too often). We had a good chat about old times, and he says he will get my book.

31 May – Amazon UK now have the price back at £37.50. I hope Stacey has brought hers at the price advertised on 29 May.

1 June – Daughter Jane identifies her two gentlemen as the chaps we met at Snetterton last September (see May 29).

4 June – Set out to drive to Dijon Prenois for the Grand Prix De L'Age D'Or historic races. Take a couple of new books but do not find any buyers.

8 June – Nice to meet up with an old favourite – Lotus Europa Twin Cam special, outside Chateauneuf en Auxois Chateau. I had forgotten how low slung they are! Photo courtesy of my sister.



9 June – Meet Tony Poll, British Lotus owner at the Club Lotus France classic car stand at Dijon. Sadly, I failed to meet up with Venice Thiebolt from the club. I signed a copy of my book for him last year. Although I had a couple of new copies with me, I did not get to sell them.

12 June – Met up with John Elwin in Montreal sur Mer. He is now a French resident, but ex-Lotus Cars and Team Lotus. He brings his copy of my book for signature, happily given! He gives me the news that the Lotus CEO has moved on.

13 June – Met up with Stuart Elliott at the Heathcote Arms for more information on the Hinckley Classic Motorshow (16 September) at which I may have a booth to sign books. Lotus and TVR most welcome.

16 June – My daughter Anne tells me that a 1970s Lotus Elite starred at the Sheringham Classic Car & Bike show. Seen here outside The Lobster pub.



18 June – Amazon UK have changed the book price again, its now down to £24.37. They say they have three left in stock, so thats at least three gone in the last month. Keep it up, chaps!

20 June – Contact various Lotus and TVR Clubs to judge support for the Hinckley Classic Motorshow. LotusExcel.net post it on the web, immediately.

22 June – Amazon UK £24.37 and have six in stock (so assume they have restocked since 18 June). Amazon USA $41.19 with two in stock. Amazon Japan Yen 3368, it was Yen 3459 on 13 February.

24 June – Club Lotus have listed the Hinckley Motorshow on their website; thank you. Nothing on the forthcoming events page of the TVR Car Club as yet.

25 June – I am a guest at the East Anglian Lotus Club barbecue at the White Hart Inn, Roydon near Diss, Norfolk. I enjoy picking the winner of "The Car I Wish to Take Home." It was very difficult, as the quality of cars attending was very high. I selected a beautiful red Lotus Esprit S4S. I was delighted to sign three books and had good feedback from those who had read it. Thank you Ben Needham and the EALC.



3 July – My publisher, Veloce creates a monthly newsletter On The Grid. This is primarily to notify subscribers of the latest releases. They also publish my Book Diaries, and this month's edition celebrates thus:



4 July – I receive a number of warm messages regarding my book's first birthday. Thanks, appreciated.

"Young" Ken Evans, ex-Lotus visits for a book signature. He also brings a copy belonging to John Freeman, also ex-Lotus and Topelec for signature. Had a good chat catching up on past times.

I was unhappy to hear that Ken had visited the local bookstore who did not have or recognise the book. I had spent an afternoon there, less than a year ago, to promote and sign books. I am a local author, after all. I will speak to them upon my return from the TVR weekend.

6 July – I arrive at Unchurch as a guest of the TVR Big Bad Wedge Fest 2018. This is an annual gathering of TVRs that I designed, and it is a great privilege for me to be invited.

7 July – A great convoy of TVRs drive to Rockingham Motor Speedway at Corby. They are there to support The Children's Trust, a leading charity for children with brain injuries. All the cars enter the paddock and park in the centre. The day is supported by many families with children, who can pay to have track rides. I take a number of book advertising flyers which get circulated. In the evening, I start circulating flyers for the Hinckley Classic Motorshow. I was pleased to hear some folk had already heard of it.

The green coupe was a stunning colour, in my humble opinion.


8 July – The TVR's gather at the Church End Brewery, Nuneaton. This ex-Village Hall emerged as a venue in which my late wife and I had catered for a wedding in 1969! Now a fine microbrewery, we had a good lunch and fascinating factory tour. Some kind ladies distributed all the remaining Hinckley adverts to the attending cars. The brewery honoured my presence with a beer named Winterbottom's Revenge! Thanks to all at the TVR Big Bad Wedge Fest!

11 July – I visit Ketts Books in Wymondham to understand why Ken Evans (see 4 July) was unable to get my book. The staff were most apologetic, explaining it was probably one new recruit who did not know of the book. They have assured me they have good relations with Veloce and can get the book rapidly when requested.

A quick search on the internet shows that Amazon UK have the book at £31.68 with four left in stock – more coming. Among their foreign outlets, Amazon France have it at €33.80, Amazon Germany €34.01, Italy €38.90, Amazon Japan 4695 Yen (it was 3470 Yen on 23 March!) and Amazon Brazil R$136.69.

Amazon UK have another customer review. It criticises the lack of DeLorean information. As the book explains on page 98, "I was not involved in the DeLorean project" and, indeed, not even at Lotus when most of it was done. It also suggests there are too many persons' names used, but I don't know how to avoid that.

14 July – Enjoying dinner with my family, at the Wrenningham Bird in Hand, when the conversation turns to the author Sir Ryder Haggard, a Norfolk domiciled man. A lady, dining on her own, comes over to tell us she has a number of his (very valuable) first editions, which she will leave to Norwich Library. I tell her I have my own first edition of my book and that a copy is in Norwich Library. After giving her details, she tells me she knows Sir John Egan. I explained that I left Jaguar, a company that Sir John saved from closure, 10 years before he became its Chief Executive. Naturally, I recommend my book to him – now I must read his book, Saving Jaguar.

Interestingly, Amazon UK has now put the price up to the publishers price of £37.50. It seems to vary considerably, making purchases from them a bit of a lottery!

17 July – Phil "Nobby" Clarke (Barnham Broom Bell customer), who restores old caravans, bought my book and brought it for signature on 23 February. He tells me he has read just enough to leave it open under his dining table leg to stop it wobbling. Thanks Nobby!

18 July – I get to hear that there is to be a 70th Anniversary Festival at Lotus, Hethel on 29 September. I can get no details; nothing on the company website at this stage. I contact Lotus for details.

Message from Richard Wollaston, a Lotus Elite owner who wishes to put my name on his car! On a trip to the Austrian Grand Prix:
"PS I should have mentioned in my email of yesterday that there was a lot of interes on the Elite, and admiration for its design during my trip. I bumped into a retired airline pilot in Luxembourg who said it embodied the futuristic spirit of the 70s – I think he got it spot on. There certainly seems to be growing admiration for the wedge designs these days, even amongst Lotus traditionalists." 
Thanks Richard, its great to get recognition.

19 July – Angus Marshall of LotusExcel.net suggest the NEC Classic Car Show in November should be an opportunity to celebrate Lotus First 70 Years. Mike Kimberly and I agree and consider supporting it.

22 July – Walk into the Barnham Broom Bell to find an elderly couple relaxing in the bar. The gentleman used to work at Lotus in Powertrain and Quality, but retired a long time ago. Using my advertisement still on display, I could explain my book and confirm that Jerrold's bookshop in Norwich should have a copy.

23 July – Lotus PR Dept tell me that the details for the Lotus Festival are not yet formally announced, but they will let me know when they are.

25 July – Emailed the TVR Car Club advising them of the Hinckley Classic Car Show and my book. It would be nice if they could put my book in the online club shop.

28 July – Weekend spent with my sister near Hinckley, so took the opportunity of checking out the location for the September Classic Car Show. Saw Stuart Elliot and discussed the car show. He will provide a kiosk and can store books for sale in the boot of his MG at the display. I must get final plans in place!

30 July – Contacted Jaguar ex-apprentice and a JDC contact about the Hinckley Show.

You can purchase your own copy of A Life in Car Design here, and make sure to keep checking the Veloce blog for the next instalment of Winterbottom's diary!