Soooooo COOL

As 80s Goths, and way be­fore Crips in Cars, we thought we were out­ra­geously cool in my Jaguar-Daim­ler

The Northern Advocate - - My Word -

Ithought I was out­ra­geously cool when I had my Mark II JaguarDaim­ler. It was born in the same year as me, 1965, and, un­like me had a 2.5-litre V8 en­gine with a borg warner gear box, state of the art in its time.

I bought it with a sus­pen­sory loan from what was then So­cial Wel­fare. I was al­ways de­ter­mined to drive. My par­ents bought me a go-kart when I was 14. I did a dis­abled driv­ing course run by the AA soon af­ter I turned 15.

The in­struc­tor was pa­tient and a Chris­tian. He prayed a lot dur­ing the lessons.

The sus­pen­sory loan was like in­ter­est in re­verse where an amount of the loan got de­ducted ev­ery year, end­ing in five years. Not long af­ter I bought the car they changed the rules, so you could only buy a car that was un­der 10 years old.

It was hardly prac­ti­cal, but Sally and I were 80s Goths and, as I said, we thought we were out­ra­geously cool. It seemed to hug the road when I drove it over 140km/ h.

I have had a few cars. My first was a Honda Civic which was the first Civic that Honda made. I thought I was out­ra­geously cool (in­ex­pli­ca­bly, I thought that a lot) just be­fore I pulled the hand brake on go­ing at 80km/h on wet tar seal (I was 15).

I had a Ford Es­cort Mark II. It was burnt or­ange with a beige vinyl roof. We thought we were out­ra­geously cool when I was driv­ing my friends to a luau-themed cham­pagne break­fast from lit­tle Huia in Auck­land’s Waitak­eres.

That feel­ing didn’t last long ei­ther when it caught fire and dragged me down a very long hill to­wards the dam with me hang­ing out the door at­tached to the car by the seat­belt.

I had a 5-litre Holden Com­modore. I thought I was out­ra­geously cool in that un­til it over­heated and blew up at the top of the Bryn­der­wns. I was with my two daugh­ters aged seven and three. Cell­phones weren’t pro­lific then.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love driv­ing. To me it is like a level play­ing field.

My driv­ing these days is very se­date. It has to be. I drive the death run gaunt­let be­tween Ruakaka and Whanga¯rei ev­ery day.

This didn’t stop my friend Shirl from go­ing into a fight-or-flight episode the other morn­ing when we were headed to Auck­land. Al­though I have known Shirl for a long time, she had never ac­tu­ally driven with me.

“I’m driv­ing,” she said.

“No,” I said. “I am driv­ing.”

Her eyes went dead. She dropped her shoul­der, she had the look of a Saxon war­rior. She’s 6ft tall.

“Give me the f*****g keys,” she said.

I had to think quickly.

“Look,” I said calmly, “I have been driv­ing for 38 years. It will be all right.”

There was a short si­lence, then: “Okay, you had bet­ter bloody not kill me or I will kill you.”

The out­ra­geously cool kids at At­ti­tude TV have re­cently put to­gether a film se­ries called Crips in Cars. They sent me the trailer.

It’s in­ge­nious, show­cas­ing con­ver­sa­tions be­tween two peo­ple at close quar­ters — driv­ing around in a Mini — with enough go­ing on in the back­ground to take the edge off the in­ten­sity that close quar­ters can evoke.

At first I in­vol­un­tar­ily flinched when I read the word “Crips”. Some words just do that to me. I get that mi­nor­ity groups do re­claim words that have been deroga­tory in the past to re­claim the power from them. The gay move­ment in the 90s re­claimed the word “queer”.

Re­claim­ing is go­ing through a re­vival.

My driv­ing in­struc­tor was pa­tient and a Chris­tian. He prayed a lot dur­ing the lessons.

Choice wheels, dude.

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