Category Archives: Richard Branson

Sir Big Swinging Dick calls. Does he care?

No, he doesn’t. Says he wishes us well and then quickly moves on to the real reason for the call.

“Bernie,” he asks. “Have you ever waxed your legs?” Formula One has no shortage of weirdos.

Sorry, I tell him, but I’m afraid it never crossed my mind. Been through a lot in those eighty years, but this bit never came up. Why the question? Do I want to know?

“It’s this bet I had with Tony Fernandes. The one about serving as a stewardess in the other’s airline.”

Ah yes. Tony and BSD had a bet who would end higher in the Championship. Big Swinging Dick lost and now he has to do a stint as a stewardess on Air Asia. But why the waxing?

“Well, I’ll tell you, Bernie, Tony’s not the one you want to lose a bet with. He’s now come up with a lot of extra stuff I have to do to make true on the bet. Wants me to shave my legs, put on make up, wear high heels and clean toilets!

“The worst of it is, he’s stealing a leaf out of my book. I’m the one that’s supposed to come up with stunts like that. So I’ll have to go one up on him. I’ve no choice. He wants my legs shaved, I’ll wax ’em. He wants some make up on my face, I’ll put on the full works. In fact I’m trying out lipstick and mascara as we speak. Great stuff, you know. Because I’m worth it!

The mugging must’ve affected me more than I thought. The idea of having Big Swinging Dick on the phone while he’s putting on lipstick in front of a vanity mirror, so soon after that other traumatic experience, is more than I can handle.

Awfully sorry, I say, but I’ve no experience with either waxing my legs or putting on lip shade. In fact, in all those years I’ve never even left the house in drag, believe it or not. Now if you’ll excuse me? I’ve work to do.

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Mooning F1

Late night call from Sir Big Swinging Dick. He’s on of his Big Branson Ideas again. “Bernie'” he says, “Are you still worrying how to get enough spectators to that US Grand Prix of yours?”

I point out that it’s not me worrying about that, but Tavo Hellmund and the Comptroller of the State of Texas. But he’s not listening. Probably had a couple of Martinis too many at the Paddock Bar.

“D’you know what’s drawing the big crowds in California right now?” he blares. I must admit that nothing in particular springs to mind. The World Soccer Championship, perhaps? “Nope. It’s mooning.”

Mooning?

“Yep. Organised mooning. I’m not making this up. They moon trains. Gather at the tracks and wait till the train’s coming. At the signal they all drop their pants and moon the train. You know, full Moon? Two each, actually. Get it?

I get it. So what do you want to do, have people moon the drivers when they race by? Won’t they be going a little bit too fast for that?

Continue reading

Sir Big Swinging Dick’s been lying low lately…

… so I thought I’d stir things up a bit. Told the ladies and gentlemen of the press that we might lose a rookie team or two before the end of the season. And guess whose team sits firmly at the bottom of the rankings?

It only took a few minutes. Instead of my favourite Ennio Morricone soundtrack my phone belches out orgasm sounds. Note to self: ask Fabiana to change the ringtone for Richard Branson – it was a nice joke for a while, but when it happens in company you always have explaining to do.

Hello Richard, I say, what can I do for you? Sir Swinging Dick is not amused. How could you do that? he shouts. Everybody and his mate is calling me and I have to keep telling people that we’re in it for the long run. Which means at least for the next month in Branson’s case, but I decide not to mention that.

Well, I say, you could start with getting your cars to the finish line. I mean, isn’t that what racing is all about? To drive your way back to the paddock, rather than walk? Continue reading

Richard Branson calls

Seems he reads my blog. Sir Big Swinging Dick saw yesterday’s post about me being interviewed and thought I needed some advice. Told him I really didn’t need any, given that refusing any interviews seems a much better solution for me. ‘Great!’ he says and starts offering me his advice anyway.

“First, don’t prepare. Wing it. I’m looking at the body language in your photo and you look way too prepared. Stifles spontaneity.” Actually, too much spontaneity seems to me my real problem but there’s no stopping him. “Second, choose a dynamic setting. I often invite them to my island and give them a taste of the real life.” I don’t have an island but decide against telling him. He’s on a roll.

“Third, whatever you do, don’t look boring. Go parasailing with a naked girl on your back in full view of the cameras, anything but don’t look boring. Journalists love that. They’ll give you the best press ever.”

Parasailing with a naked girl? That’s the last straw. I find an excuse, tell him I hope he’ll get at least one car to the finish line in Melbourne and hang up.

Sir Big Swinging Dick called

You wonder how he does it. I mean, after yesterday’s race everyone is wondering how to rescue F1 from the grave. And here comes Mad Dick. Bellows into the phone, “Bernie my boy! You did it! I knew you’d come through! That was the greatest race the world has ever seen! And don’t say I’m not grateful. I’m gonna arrange free Virgin Upper Class tickets for you and your wife for the rest of your lives.”

So I say, what the Hell do you mean? The race was boring and there was nothing I could do about it. And besides I don’t have a wife. My beloved Slavika has left me. But if you’d arrange them for me and Fabiana, I wouldn’t mind though. My girlfriend Fabiana, that is. Not my assistant, she flies cattle class. Although for some reason she always seems to get an upgrade.

“Bernie! Have you forgotten? Continue reading

Branson: we didn’t screw up (finally)

Funny that. After screwing up both their ‘virtual launch’ (which means launching a website but) and their first test, which was an improvement in that this time they didn’t lose the whole car but just a wing, Virgin have actually completed 63 test laps without losing any part. Which is good, considering they’ve shown a habit of coming to the track without spare parts.

Good news? Depends where you stand. Where I’m standing is at the receiving end of triumphant phone calls from Big Swinging Dick Branson. Continue reading

Black is the New Black

It’s that time of year again. The teams are about to unveil their new cars for the season.

Normally this doesn’t involve me but this year we have four rookie teams with no clue what to do, and the phone’s been ringing off the hook.

Worst of the lot is Sir Big Swinging Dick. Calls me up at all hours about things like colour schemes and grid girl uniforms. I keep asking him how’re the engineers doing but Continue reading