Friday, April 10, 2015

Egad! "Bunty" selling Royal Enfield? "Blimp" sold Norton!

Col. Blimp spoke for Norton. Could Maj. Bunty speak for Royal Enfield?
It is inconceivable that Royal Enfield will ever adopt as its spokesman the outspoken Maj. Bertram "Bunty" Golightly, British Army (retired).

And, yet, there is a precedent.

The master of Blotto Hall, shooter of peasants (along with pheasants), dallier with "fillies" (and horses, too), connoisseur of drink, and proud bigot,"Bunty" has absolutely nothing to recommend himself — except knowledge of, and loyalty to, Royal Enfield motorcycles.

These characteristics have been enough to delight members of several Royal Enfield Yahoo message groups and bring others to sputtering outrage.

Bunty Golightly as a young man.
Bunty is unreliable — his Yahoo posts stop for months at a time. No known image of him exists, although he has been identified with the dapper gentleman atop a Royal Enfield.

Perhaps worst of all, he is (probably) fictional, although he insists he's real.

Could a serious corporate entity such as Royal Enfield put up with all this?

Norton did.

It's true. The Bunty Golightly who frequents Yahoo message groups devoted to Royal Enfield in the 21st Century is unquestionably based on "Colonel Blimp," a pre-World War II cartoon drawn by artist David Low.

The overweight and overwrought cartoon Blimp usually held forth swathed only in a towel, fresh from a steam bath at his club.

"Egad, Sir!" he would announce. "England must keep her colonies, even if that means we have to buy a geography book and figure out where they are!"

In 1943, the character of Blimp came to life in the movie "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp," starring Roger Livesey. Winston Churchill tried to block the film, concerned that it would sap army morale in wartime.

Nothing was further from the truth, as the good-hearted Blimp clearly represented the sometimes bumbling yet sincere and caring British character.

Blimp was so attractive, despite his blubber and blubbering colonialism, that during World War II Norton motorcycles used his cartoon image in an advertisement.

The copy reads:

"Dear Old Colonel Blimp, in his sarong and astride a Norton too! For evermore! And just listen to the old boy... "Gad, Sir! this IS progress! In my view Beveridge should provide a Norton for every able-bodied youth reaching his majority. I understand this is the world's best road-holder. I'm glad to hear it. We must hold our roads as well as our Colonies... in the post-war race this machine will take first place. Gad, Sir! after the peace the pace, what?"

The ad makes amends to Blimp's creator this way: "With apologies and acknowledgements to LOW."

Could Bunty emerge as spokesman for Royal Enfield? Doubtful. His creator would have to step forward to accept credit (if not payment). I would love to meet the man behind Bunty.

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