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Guns and land barges

(Travels with Guido series #222, Oct 2020)

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, pic: Andrew Britten

Indian Chief Vintage 2003

Tired of being cut off? Things are going to be different when Guido rules the world

It’s not that I have anything against SUVs. Much. It’s your right to have some over-stuffed boudoir disguised as a vehicle, that makes grey vinyl look like an endangered species. If the idea of spending north of $50,000 on some lumbering cabinet of despair, with the handling qualities of an elderly elephant that’s overdosed on mogadon, is your idea of heaven, good for you.

I can even admire the breathtaking optimism of feeding some dirty great thinly disguised truck motor so it can asthmatically haul away a vehicle which has all the beauty and styling finesse of a block of flats from Brixton, circa 1950s (known by architects the world-over as the Brutalist period).

Maybe there’s pleasure in wrenching on the wheel of one of these barges, narrowly avoiding hitting the rocks of Kias and Camrys as you take the hordes of offspring to whatever institution you’ve chosen to confine the little perishers for the day.

But why, oh why, do some of these people think they rule the earth? Battling through traffic these days is like being trapped in a bad re-run of Jurassic Park.

What finally brought this topic home to roost was I caught myself smacking a Benz SUV across the snout in traffic the other day – the same way you’d punish the Doberman for taking a dump on the family’s finest Persian rug.

Why? Because I was trying to cross lanes in front of the rotten thing and the harridan at the tiller decided she wasn’t having it. In fact, she’d rather risk life and limb (mine) plus hitting the car in front (and thus a monumental panel bill) rather than let me through.

Of course she went apoplectic when I smacked the Benz and took off.

Traditionally it’s grumpy middle-aged men who are by far the worst offenders. In fact, one of my waking nightmares is some self-important up-and-comer with a mobile phone, a land barge, and a weight problem who’s mostly a coronary looking for somewhere to happen.

It does occasionally end in tears. Another tried so hard to lock me out of a freeway lane that he actually did end up crashing into the car in front.

What is it with them? It’s a guess, but I can only put it down to frustration and jealousy. Frustration because the dream of far horizons and wild adventures they bought in the showroom has reduced to creeping along at 40km/h in some bloated replica of their lounge room; And jealousy because they see this spritely mechanical horse flitting through their nightmare with apparently not a care in the world.

So, what is the Australian thing to do when you see something smaller having a much better time than you? Kill it. Bug spray is the most popular option, but a land barge will do.

These people feel much too safe. Some decades ago, when the apocryphal pot plants in Volvos ruled the earth, Toyota briefly ran a very funny ad campaign. It had a picture of a Land Cruiser with the bold caption: “The only thing that will protect you from a Volvo.” Of course there was a dreadful outcry and the ad was withdrawn – but not before Toyota made its point. These days, Volvos are the least of anyone’s problems and I’m wondering what’s going to protect us from the SUV.

Which has led me to the reluctant conclusion that we have got this whole motorcycle safety thing completely wrong. Forget rider skills training, bright clothing and high tech helmets. What we need to do is arm motorcyclists.

When I rule the world, this is what's going to happen: a modest amount of money and a little time on a firing range would be sufficient to give your average rider the resources to carry a light handgun. Nothing big – more James Bond than Dirty Harry – with a few rounds in the magazine, in case you miss the first time.

The best thing under my new Road Safety Munitions Scheme is no-one needs to get hurt. You don’t aim at the driver, but simply shoot their tyres out. At around $500-plus a corner, I’m fairly confident they’ll soon get the message…

(more Travels with Guido)



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