There's this camera in my street, fixed on top of a big black pole. Sometimes, it points up the street, sometimes down, sometimes straight ahead. I always stare right down the lens when I pass, to show the operators I know they're there and watching me; I won't pretend that I'm not being spied on.
It's a feeble show of defiance, but all that I have. What would be much fairer would be if every CCTV camera had an LCD screen built into the base of the pole, linked to a small camera in the control room. This would be directed at the people watching us so that we, in turn, could watch them and, more importantly, hear them. Because, let's face it, it's a basic human impulse to say things about people who you are covertly observing.
For some reason, I found myself wondering what the hidden cameramen/ women were saying about the new Citroën C6 that was recently parked outside my house. I've never considered what they say about any of the other cars that come and go, but there is something so otherworldly about the C6 that I imagined that they couldn't help but notice it.
I envisage that there are three of them sitting at a bank of monitors in a dark, sterile, air-conditioned room somewhere within a featureless building in Wembley or Guildford. There's Gill, a single mother who has never given up on her dream of being a professional wrestler; Kwame from the Ivory Coast; and Rex, a former teacher who quit due to stress and has a bit of a drink problem, but the others cover up for him. Their nickname for me is "Mister Fat Baldy Who Think He All Dat".
I imagine Gill zooms in when they see me getting out of the C6. Kwame admires its sweeping lines, which echo the Citroëns he saw in the francophone Africa of his youth: the DS and CX, which, despite their futuristic style, were better suited to the broken roads of his native country than other sturdier cars, thanks to Citroën's hydropneumatic suspension. And Rex tells them how, over the last few years, all volume manufacturers have had the same problem with selling larger models. While premium brands such as Audi and BMW are flying out of the showrooms, brands such as Ford have given up on the executive class.
The French, Rex continues, have kept doing it so that local dignitaries and the President will have something home-grown to ride in, but their attempts have been unsuccessful abroad. Either they do weird and faux-modernist, such as the Renault Vel Satis and Avantine, or bland and derivative, such as the Peugeot 607.
Now, he explains, what Citroën has done with the C6 is what Jaguar and poor old Rover attempted: to render the styling cues of the greatest models of their past in modern form.
However, while the new XJ8 and Rover 75 look staid and old-fashioned, Citroën has the advantage that it is basing the C6 on models that were trying to look like they'd come from 30 years in the future when they were made. The result is striking, particularly when seen from the back with the concave rear screen, that while resembling nothing else on the road, manages to look bang up-to-date.
One thing that the trio don't like is the way the Citroën rides: they believe the population needs to be controlled, yet the Citroën defies them in the way it rides over speed bumps. In the C6, you glide over these lumps of tar oblivious to their existence. In the end, the three voyeurs concur that, while they might not buy one because their souls are dead inside, the C6 might appeal to some more free-thinking individual, a designer, say, or a fat individual who thinks he's some sort of fighter against the onward march of the dead claw of malevolent capitalist oligarchy just because he stares barmily down the lenses of CCTV cameras.Reuse content