I got sent to Italy on a job for work, flying to Pisa for an international car launch. Me, with no motoring knowledge at all, and a group of men, some well-known, who have built their careers around writing about cars.
You couldn’t have dropped me in the middle of a more masculine event to attend. We were taken to the largest ship in the Italian Navy, the Cavour, the third largest aircraft carrier in the world. The press room was in the giant internal hangar alongside a couple of helicopters and we were all sleeping down narrow step ladders in cabins where you could hear the roar of the engines through the night. Around the decks were naval officers, pristine in white uniforms, white shirts, pressed white trousers, some with blue sashes with tassles hanging down by their sides and polished white shoes. Not massively practical but very pretty. It all looked very Top Gun-esque. All we needed was a short guy in leathers to ride onto the flight deck on his motorcycle, shades down, cheeky smile beaming, with a ‘Ride into the Dangerzone’ soundtrack accompanying him to seal the deal.
The press conference was held on a giant elevator, so that when the presentation was over, all 400 or so of us were lifted wholesale in our seats up to the flight deck, where the cars were performing handbrake turns and driving very quickly up the flight ramp, stopping just before dropping off the edge.
So like I say, very macho. The only thing that spoiled the gritty atmosphere was the presence of hairdryers in the cabin bathrooms (but something I was very grateful for). But after all, this is an Italian Naval vessel.