Tuesday 10 January 2023

I'd go the whole wide world

Launched in 1993 as the successor to the Sierra, the Mondeo was envisaged as a "world car".  Ford had learnt from it's past, and was now attempting to produce homogenized vehicles, sharing as many components between it's interests as possible.
Indeed, the name Mondeo is derived from the Latin word "mundus", meaning "world".
Mondeo also translates from the international language of Esperanto as "world".
On release it sold well - it was lauded for it's affordability, comfort, and reliability.  I can attest to this having owned a 1993 model - it was basically bulletproof, and was only part-exchanged 10 years later when I needed to get a bigger family bus.
The Mondeo survived through 5 facelifts, regularly winning (or at least appearing in the Top 3 of) various Car of The Year awards throughout it's lifetime.
Such was it's ubiquity, the phrase "Mondeo Man" was coined describing relatively comfortable middle-class-ness.  Mondeo Man became a key political term in the 1997 election and the rise of New Labour.

The concept of the "Mondeo man" was popularised by a phrase used by then Leader of the Labour Party, Tony Blair at the Labour Party Conference in October 1996. He recalled a Ford Sierra owner he had canvassed in the Midlands whilst out campaigning for the 1992 general election. The man was a self-employed electrician, whom Blair met while the man was polishing his car at the weekend, and told Blair that he was an ex-Labour voter who had bought his council house, owned his own car, and wondered what the Labour Party had to offer him given the party's history of raising taxes and mortgage rates.

His dad voted Labour, he said. He used to vote Labour, too. But he'd bought his own house now. He'd set up his own business. He was doing very nicely. "So I've become a Tory" he said. In that moment, he crystallised for me the basis of our failure.. His instincts were to get on in life. And he thought our instincts were to stop him. But that was never our history or our purpose.

This is the story that is often credited with inspiring Blair's concept of New Labour, and the "Mondeo man" became the target voter of the campaign for the 1997 general election for the Labour Party.

Mondeo production ceased in March 2022 following years of regularly falling sales, and the noting that buyers were moving away from large family cars to Crossovers and SUVs (aka those overly large vehicles that look like off-roaders, but have no real off-road capability).

It's not documented if Wreckless Eric ever owned a Ford Mondeo, but he did tour Europe in a 1960s Peugeot.  This was in the mid-80s after he'd left Stiff Records (his original home) due to a lack of support, promotion and general belief.
He was part of the original roster of Stiff artists, alongside Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, The Pink Fairies and The Damned, and participated in 2 Stiff Package Tours (5 acts sharing the bill and travelling up and down the country by train).
His first album 'Wreckless Eric' came out in March 1978, 'The Wonderful World of Wreckless Eric' (featuring a cover photo of a big band including Danny Baker on drums) released 6 months later, 'Big Smash!' in early 1980.
Not long after the release of 'Big Smash!' Eric ended his relationship with Stiff, and struck out on his own.  Writing and recording in his home studio, he stayed active continuing to tour and release albums.
If anything, there was something of a career re-awakening with the couple of albuims produced with his wife Amy Rigby, and then releasing three solo albums - 'AmERICa' (2015), 'Construction Time & Demolition' (2018) and 'Transience' (2019), which are probably the best of his long career.

But if there is one song that is his Pension Plan, it's this one:

Whole Wide World