3908 Mode‘ T Ford


since become a tourist attraction. In those days it was a farming community, but Ford had aspirations to become a mechanic and for a while he toured the small-holdings with his bag of tools. mending equipment.

His early forays into the automobile business were financial disasters and he had more false starts then his infamously cranky but endurineg reliable Model T. He did not invent the motor car, but he popularised it. chiefly through the mass assembly line, which made men into automatons. As Joe Glaze wrote: ‘Those Fords rolled by on that factory floor,/And every fourteen seconds I slapped on a door.’

In the early years, Ford was synonymous with the automobile, and running his company like a benevolent dictator, Henry Ford amassed phenomenal personal wealth. His leadership was unchallenged, but his workforce had an ambivalent regard for him. To some he was an enlightened employer. progressive and humanitarian. raising wages. giving equal oppportunities to blacks and the disabled (though not to women). founding a Sociological Department to improve living conditions. Others saw his altruism as a form ofpublic relations. a paternalist ofthe Big Brother school. he was a shrewd fast-buck opportunist: an anti-semite with the dubious distinction of being the only American mentioned in Mein Kampf. he held political and world ambitions far beyond his intellectual capabilities.

Henry Ford was not an educated man but he was a brilliant. obsessed car mechanic who before the Chevy

was being driven to the levee gave ordinary Americans the chance to travel independently.

Henry Ford 1 dominates Robert Lacey‘s rivetting. diligently-researched story. for while this is the history ofan automobile company. and not a biography. many ofthe problems inherited by the Ford Motor Corporation can be laid at its founder‘s door. His successors may have been as tough in the boardroom. particularly the bullish lacocca. but they were essentially accountants. happier with profit and loss than nuts and bolts. In contrast. Henry Ford was only truly in his element when his hands were covered with oil. He never quite managed to divorce himself from the business of building cars and his interference made life hell for his son Edsell. who became titular head of Ford at 22. But Edsell was never allowed to have his head. and it‘s significant that his influence was most apparent in second generation Fords. especially the Model A. which Clyde Barrow. of Bonnie and Clyde notoriety. said ‘I have drove (sic) Fords exclusively when I could get away with one.‘

Edsell became a distinguished patron ofthe arts. which Henry left well alone. A philistine par excellence. he once. in the midst of the 1920 Depression. turned down the opportunity to buy the ‘Hundred Greatest paintings in the World' because the catalogues which the dealers had produced to entice him were so splendid. ‘What would I want with the original paintings when the ones right here in the books are so beautiful‘?‘ he asked. As ever there was a hint of method in his ignorance. (Alan Taylor).


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Hong Kong is a British Crown Colony with 98% Chinese, run by a business élite. In 1997 the British lease runs out. Simon Evans considers the implications for the people who live there and as artists from the Commonwealth visit Edinburgh describes how political uncertainty is reflected in Hong Kong‘s cultural life.

There are probably very few political jokes in llong Kong because there is very little politics.

Edward Youde. the (iovernor appointed by the Queen. and ‘l..egco‘. the Legislative (‘ouncil appointed by the (iovernor. together rule the colony unhindered by the need to consult its population at elections. 'I‘hus there is no parliament and there are no political parties. and although the press and television are theoretically as free as in Britain. the voice ofopposition to establishment interests is very faint indeed. During the communist-inspired riots of the early 70s. when Iiuropcans were stoned in the streets. the Soul/i ('limu .ilommg Post simply failed to report that the Central financial district had become a no-go area.

This is not to say that llong Kong‘s Government is oppressive: on the contrary. the colonial facade hides a liberal social policy that includes. for example. one of the biggest government house-building programmes in the world. As long as the colony prospers. its five million

people have been happy to acquiesce

in its traditional system: government by consultation among business elites.

But in NW. the colony will revert to (‘hinese sovereignty. Hoping to protect these traditions. Mrs Thatcher opened negotiations with the (‘hinese leader Den Xiao Ping in 1982; while they continued over the next two years. the violent response of the l lang Seng stock exchange index to any rumour of the outcome brought l long Kong to sporadic

public attention in Britain. The Joint

Declaration that'was finally announced however. received the business community‘s cautious approval. It was concluded here that the problem was solved and Hong Kong sank back to its ghetto in the financial pages.

So it was something of a surprise to see an actor walk onstage during a cabaret performance at the recent liong Kong Fringe Festival and announce: ‘And the winner is. . .' (ripping open an envelope with the fake impatience ofan actress on ()scar night). ‘Liddie and the Legco‘sl~

Perhaps the agreement under