The Ferrari Temper. The Fiat temper. The Ford Temper (enhanced by Cosworth of Northampton and beloved by boy racers everywhere and probably, Jeremy Clarkson). Not forgetting the Volvo Temper.
Before you ring your local dealership asking about any of the aforementioned models, they don't actually exist. The Swedes in particular are far too composed and self-controlled to ever produce a Temper. When you think about it though, isn't Temper a great name for a car? Beats the pants off Punto.
You can imagine the ads shot entirely on location in the bowels of hell; Ridley Scott behind the camera and the Devil himself behind the wheel. The name suggests a fiery and blistering performance. 0-62 in 1.4 seconds. God! that's slow, I reckon my temper goes from standstill to all out ballistic in a fraction of that . And I don't have the turbo version. Not yet. Maybe one day.
Still, there's a good reason motor manufacturers have never called and never will call one of their vehicles the Temper - any colour you like as long as it's red mist. This is because the very word also evokes anger. And as everyone knows, anger can quickly turn into rage and the last thing we need on the road, or anywhere else for that matter, is more rage.
Like a lot of people, my volatile temper - not tiny, but hardly dangerously large either - sometimes gets the better of me. I know it doesn't mean to. But occasionally (OK, slightly more than occasionally), it can't help itself. Like a recalcitrant child or a petulant pooch, it kind of flips. Definitely a case of my pan boileth over.
Why are some of us genetically hot wired to be hot-headed? Why do we suddenly fly off the handle without any provocation? What is it that makes an individual explode while others, outwardly, at least, remain an oasis of calm and tranquility?
I asked myself the very same questions the other day when I slammed down the phone- or, more correctly, the pieces of the phone that remained intact- after speaking to a supplier who'd once again fallen short in the service they afford us.
The answer is unlikely to come as any great psychiatric surprise. It's simply because we can get away with it. And the more we're allowed to get away with it, the more we play up to our irateness, without a single thought for the person or inanimate object about to be subjected to such extreme annoyance and abuse.
As with most of my work and quite a few of my personal conversations, this one started reasonably enough. Then it rapidly went downhill. To use a sporting analogy, it began as a genteel ladies bowls match, although never underestimate the steely determination of Cheltenham women over 65, and ended up as a grudge ice hockey match with me using the puck (sic) word a little too much.
Before I dialled the number, I knew in my mind what the eventual outcome would be. My brother, who I share an office with said: "Are you sure you should be calling them? Wouldn't it be better to just send an email?"
"Don't worry", I replied."I'll be fine. I won't lose it. Promise". A minute later I was inevitably ranting and screaming like a complete mad man. In my defence, I must state that I remained remarkably eloquent throughout and no expletive was mispronounced. Quite an achievement at 105 decibels with veins bulging on my forehead and flames coming out of my nostrils.
If any third world dictatorship is looking for a new leader, they could do a lot worse than to look in my direction. Those conference calls with Obama, Cameron and Putin would be interesting. "Don't they know it's the end of the world, it ended when I said *!&?@!%#*# off".
Unfortunately, the problem with having a temper is that you forever find yourself saying sorry for your behaviour. Especially galling when it's not your fault and you're not to blame - according to you.
What a sad little apology of a word 'sorry' is.
As a sentiment its overuse has almost reduced it to being practically worthless. It has no value any more. People are so sorry so often, no one really believes that they actually mean it. Despite this, the suckers I most recently said it to seemed pretty convinced. They were quite taken aback by my apparent contrition.
Far from being the hardest word to say, it is, on the contrary, the easiest. Every bit as throwaway as a tissue, 'sorry' is quickly becoming vocabulary's Kleenex.
However, it continues to be an effective way of hopefully diffusing a tricky situation. Of digging yourself out of a hole. Or of getting a person to shut up. It's hard for someone to remain livid with you when you've been so humble and apologetic.
Of course, if you don't want to constantly come over as the weaker party, the trick is to attempt to control your temper. To temper it, if you prefer.
Try soothing music, counting to 10 (I think I once managed 3) or signing up for a yoga class.
Yoga? Well, bollocks to that.