Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Before Duckie I had a ‘normal’ car, a metallic grey V.W Polo. It was nice, in a Teutonic utilitarian kind of way, except people would insist on driving into it at high speed. But it was just a car.
Duckie is not just a car.

Lying on the osteopath's couch, my sensible thinking went like this: if I have a car that’s a bit more conspicuous, then half blind/possibly drunk black cab drivers are more likely to give me a wide berth, instead of ramming me at a speed of 40mph on an otherwise empty 3 lane road.

In the 3 years I’ve had Duckie I’ve got used to the admiring glances my shiny, happy baby blue car receives. People wave, other drivers always let us cut in with a smile, (except the occasional soulless BMW type who will go out of their way to avoid letting anyone in - but we don’t care about them.)

The white and chrome interior, white leather seats and big round chrome dials make it so light and bright to be in, even if it’s pouring with rain and miserable outside. It’s like entering another world, one where people stop what they’re doing to gawp and point with delighted smiles fixed on their faces, or you get a smile and thumbs up from someone crossing the road in front of you.

I think it has something to do with the way the radiator grill and round chrome rimmed headlights (with chrome eyelids!) kind of look like a cute smiling face. The sleek retro shape that reminds people of a time when people wore driving gloves and strangers said good morning to each other in the street.

Duckie is quite a conversation starter. The men she attracts are generally those who are old enough to believe they remember my car from the 1950s. At the petrol pump when I hear exclamations of, ‘they don’t make ‘em like that anymore do they?’ I agree whilst waiting for the engine size and fuel consumption questions I know are coming. I have the answers down pat, I have no idea what I’m talking about but I deliver my lines with conviction.

She likes to whip her top off in the summer and bask in the fresh air?

When I overhear people guessing wrongly that it’s a 1956 something or other I don’t have the heart to tell them that it’s only 15 years old and is a Japanese car designers idea of a future classic, a one off run of 20,000 made and sold by raffle in Japan. I feel that Jeremy Clarkson would describe it as something like ‘a perfect hybrid of past and future with its’ classic curves on the outside, CD player, air con, power steering and turbo engine on the inside.’

There is the Figaro drivers’ etiquette of course. A subtle wave or smile is all that’s required when you pass another, but I’ve noticed lately that some newer converts are not aware of this unspoken rule. There seems to be a new breed who do the nose in the air, pretend I haven’t seen you drive by snubbing. As if they’ve been caught wearing the same dress as you at a party, they then leave you to pretend you were just reaching for a stretch or to run your hand through your hair.

I have been tailed so many times, to which I am usually oblivious (bad mirror usage) until I reach my destination, when another car pulls up next to me to say they’ve been following me for an hour so they could ask what it is and where they can get one.

The best thing about my little car, apart from, um everything is that it’s impossible to be depressed when driving. Purring along driving Duckie and watching peoples’ reaction to her is like an instant antidepressant. It is impossible to be grumpy when everyone reacts in such a positive way.

This must be what it’s like to be really beautiful, I think, as we drive through the centre of Greenwich on a crowded afternoon to admiring looks and smiles all round.


Anonymous said...

OMG! I want that car!!!


Lola is Beauty said...

Wow, that was quick I only posted that about a minute ago! I think everyone should have one, then there'd be no road rage. Not sure how they'd deal with the winter snow in your neck of the woods though! But for summer tootling...

Bombay Beauty said...

Cars, babies, and aliens...

(1) I used to be one of those people who would never smile indulgently when a toddler crossed my path or peer curiously into the bassinette of a passing stroller.

I am as standoffish toward cars as I am toward babies, I must confess. But for both babies and cars, there are exceptions. Yours is certainly one of them.

(2) I tend to offend parents by comparing their children to pets. I offend pet owners by comparing their pets to plants. I have now offended car aficionados by comparing their cars to children. There are a few remaining offensive combinations I should sketch out: cars and plants (both charming to look at and spewing out Co2?); plants and children (both somewhat vegetative?); cars and pets (both good to go with running with, both requiring cleaning up after, both expensive to maintain).

(3) I used to own a car. A brute of a Volvo. As square as yours is curvy. As dull as yours is charming.

Must stop before the only friends I'll have left are carless, childless, petless, and plantless misanthropes.