Captain’s Log

John Torode

  • Back from the Brink: An Apocalyptic Experience by Michael Edwardes
    Collins, 301 pp, £9.95, March 1983, ISBN 0 00 217074 4

‘Diminutive but perfectly formed’ was the phrase coined by Private Eye to describe Sir Michael Edwardes. It stuck because it caught the mechanical, wind-up, less-than-life quality of the man who ‘turned British Leyland round’ To me he was always a character out of Thunderbirds, the television series in which assorted automata glide round the globe, programmed to mouth platitudes and do down the much more human baddies. If Thunderbirds seems a little harsh then how about Startrek? Captain’s Log, Starship Enterprise: ‘Early in October of 1977 I was asked, at short notice, to take on the awesome task of running British Leyland; of bringing about its recovery. I reported for duty 28 days later, and now, five years later, my assignment at BL is over. Others will continue with the task.’ That is how ‘Captain’ Edwardes opens the preface to this solid 301 pages. It is the sort of book which would have demanded six uninterrupted months from a mere mortal. Edwardes wrote it while running BL: it took ‘every spare moment for 16 weeks’.

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