More than 200 Chinese media would attend from TV and Radio.This was in comparison to the 30-40 international media that I offered to organise. I thought that I had the easier task. What I hadn’t understood was that the Chinese press were completely dictated to, and would follow commands like soldiers in the red army. Point and they would go, shout and they would jump, issue a press release and they would print. The international press – now they didn't understand these basic rules of command or instruction.
We had the worlds crop of journalists joining us, in order of appearance we had Sky News, ITN, Channel 4, CNN, Bloomberg News, Reuters, The Times, The Observer, Al Jazeer News, The Birmingham Post, and even the Irish Times.
I had agreed that the media could film on the day before the event, to ensure they had enough material “in the bag” before the big ceremony the following day. What I didn't expect was the extend of the requests for interviews, the filming of vehicles, and some of the bizarre demands made by a minority of journalists whose ego’s had outgrown there physical bodies, and would have normally been associated with Hollywood ‘A’listers rather than middle-aged men with receding hair lines, expanding waistlines and too much time spent watching clips of themselves! I would like to say the previous days filing went without its problems but that would by a lie, we had a number of confrontations, that were only resolved unfortunately with raised voices.
I left the factory exhausted, with a stage half built, and the factory frontage still covered in scaffolding. It was 10 pm, and a bet I had made with the BBC earlier that everything would be finished in time, was looking increasingly lost.
I left home at 7am, and arrived at the Media’s hotel before 8 am. Everything was planned down to the last detail, apart from the obvious demands of the over indulged reporters, the comments “I don't do Coach’s” will always remind me of that stressful morning, pandering to numerous obscure requests. We made the long journey across the Yangtze, which was made more interesting as the whole city seemed to have been dressed up for the occasion. The 20 or so Kilometres between the hotel and the factory had MG flags positioned every 10 metres along the route, and enormous advertising hoardings had appeared overnight to line the way to the main entrance – to the astonishment of everyone (including me!) the frontage had been completed the signs had been installed and the grass had been laid. A Truly miraculous feet, only three weeks earlier the front of the facility had been a mile long stretch of earth and rubble – it had now been turned into a series of landscaped car parks, enormous paved areas and fountains. At the centre of all of this stood probably the world’s largest MG sign.
I made my way into the centre stage where overnight, a video wall, 1000 chairs, media areas, and giant plasma screen TV’s had appeared.
Several day’s ago, I was told that I had been chosen to drive the first MGTF onto the stage, I tried to keep my excitement to myself, fearing that the opportunity would be passed onto a more senior member of the team at the last minute.
I’m not sure what the dozens of senior government officials made of it, or even the dozens of more senior members of the NAC group thought of this English person, taking one of the greatest honours that will ever be available to the company. I didn't care – this would be a moment I would savour, and one I was incredibly emotional about.
After various speeches from numerous government principles and the Chairmen of the company, I was invited to the stage, in front of the enormous audience and a thousand flashing cameras, handed the keys by the Mayor of Nanjing, and dashed behind the stage to get into the car. The adrenalin was pumping hard and fast, my heart racing as I practised my clutch control. Following the Presidents car which drove in front of me, I found my way through the dry ice and parked the car in front of the waiting press and officials. The photographers didn't need their flashes – the grin on my face was enough to light the entire room. I opened the door and stepped out of the car, shaking Mr Yu’s hand for the waiting media pack, before walking of the stage.
Then as quickly as everyone had appeared, they all disappeared. I was left alone with some of my work colleagues, and the team brought in to dismantle the stage. Everyone had gone off to the lunch that had been prepared for the visitors and senior members of the company. I chose to stay behind and look after the BBC who would conduct live reports from the factory for the rest of the day.