A while ago I was doing a book reading at a literary festival in the south of England. One of the purposes of doing these things, apart from meeting your public, is to sell copies of your books.

Now I was aware that the organisers of this particular festival were not the most competent people in the world, so I got together all the copies of my short stories and my novel that I could find and stuck them in the boot of my car.

Sure enough the official bookseller had not ordered nearly enough copies and soon ran out, so after my reading I stood at the front of the stage and sold £130-worth of my own books. This simple activity gave me more pleasure than anything I have done for years (certainly a lot more pleasure than writing the sodding books I was selling).

Since then, I have been on the lookout for other jobs I can perform on a random basis, and, on being told that my niece was getting married I immediately offered to be chauffeur for the day and to provide a suitably grand motor for the event.

The car I acquired was a BMW 735i in silver, loaded with about five grand's worth of extras on top of the £53,000 list price. In the past, when a regular columnist on a motoring magazine, I had one of this car's rivals on long-term test, a Lexus LS 430, a vehicle to my mind so bland and dull Toyota took it off me before my year was up because I couldn't think of a single thing to say about it in my monthly reports. I doubt I'd have that problem with the Bimmer.

First, there's the exterior styling. In darker colours the more baroque aspects of the 7 series, the shutline of the boot trailing into the side profile, the ripples on top of the wing mirrors, the brooding frontal aspect are somewhat disguised so in many ways it resembles any other big exec but in a light metallic the boldness and daring of Chris Bangle's design really shouts out especially when compared with the extremely timid new Jaguar XJ series.

The distinctiveness continues inside. My friend Robert likened the BMW's minimalist, wood, leather and metal-lined cabin to a Malmaison-style hotel compared with the more frou frou Hilton-like interiors of its major rivals. This minimalism is achieved by putting most functions normally regulated by buttons and switches to an interactive screen governed by a control knob resembling the top of a jar of marmalade on the central armrest.

A great deal has been made of the complexity of this device which no more difficult to master than a simple electronic notebook. On the other hand, you don't try to operate a simple electronic notebook at 80 miles an hour, something you need to do with the i-drive. This is not a motor you can simply step into and drive; you must spend time familiarising yourself with its functionality if you want to pilot the BMW safely.

That said, during the drive up north on the night before the wedding in filthy weather, the big 7 was a reassuring place to be, though the TMC, a real-time traffic alert system, was a bit like having a nervy passenger, twice alerting me to stationary traffic ahead that never materialised.

On the day of the wedding, the big car was a big hit with the bride and groom and all the guests, though one surprise was that, given its back seats are designed to accommodate capitalist plutocrats the rear doors do not seem to open that wide, and the bride was forced to adopt a slightly strange posture to get herself and her dress inside elegantly.

Though not quite perfect, the BMW 7 series is a step forward in the conservative, large executive sector and Mister Alexei's Limousine Service is happy to recommend the BMW 7 series as its chosen car. Please check on our competitive rates at our website: www.anythingtoavoiddoingmyrealwork.com

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