Cars may come and go, but it’s nice to know there are some things about mo­tor­ing that never change.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents - WITH PAT Mc­DER­MOTT

driven to dis­trac­tion

The MOTH (The Man of the House) opened the door of our new car and stood back while I climbed in. We in­haled the de­li­cious new car smell and watched the steer­ing wheel move silently into place and the wing mir­rors open out.

I thought back to all the cars that went be­fore.

There was the HD Holden. It saw ser­vice as a tank in World War II. Then a snappy lit­tle Fiat that turned on a ve-cent piece but the pivot win­dows fell out on the high­way in the heat. Along came a Ford Fair­lane and a Holden Monaro. The back seat held 12 peo­ple. A full tank cost a week’s wages.

There was a brief, glo­ri­ous af­fair with an el­derly Jaguar. It took three min­utes to drift ma­jes­ti­cally around a cor­ner and park­ing was im­pos­si­ble but I felt like the Queen when we pulled into Woolies.

Then we had ve chil­dren and a dog. We needed a “peo­ple mover”.

The Toyota Tarago had lots of room and a small fridge. We could never

nd the en­gine.

Next came a Nis­san Pa­trol. We jammed two chil­dren, the dog, food, beach toys and suit­cases in and around the back row. In the mid­dle row were the two “big” girls and the baby. The chil­dren in the last row were un­reach­able. I made threats. The MOTH wore earplugs.

We had other cars over the years. The MOTH fan­cied BMWs and I owned a Dai­hatsu Cha­rade.

The dif­fer­ence wasn’t lost on me.

My last car was a red Peu­geot. Ev­ery­one should have a French car in his or her life but only once. Ruff Red’s surf­board was wedged on an an­gle across the seat backs. I drove with the pointy end in my left ear.

There were dents and scratches on the out­side and empty bot­tles and cans rolled around on the oor in­side. I wrote “NEVER BRAKE SUD­DENLY!” on the dash­board in big red let­ters.

The MOTH in­ter­rupted my drive down mem­ory lane.

“Meet Alice,” he said proudly.

“Now you can stop telling me how to drive. Alice is in charge.”

Alice is our new car’s warn­ing voice. “There will be no hold­ing your breath when I pass a semi-trailer. No slam­ming your foot on an imag­i­nary brake pedal! Alice will take care of ev­ery­thing. She’s pro­grammed to point out bot­tle shops and park­ing spa­ces, too!”

“I taught ve teenagers to drive!” I re­minded him.

“I know. They still talk about it and not in a good way!”

I ad­mit Alice doesn’t gasp when a B-Dou­ble hur­tles by or grab the MOTH’s arm to point out old men and lit­tle dogs on cross­walks the way I did. But, three weeks in, I no­tice he gets ir­ri­ta­ble when he hears the “ding dong” that an­nounces Alice is about to speak.

“Cau­tion – school zone.”

‘Thanks, Alice.’

“Cau­tion – red light cam­era.”

‘Okay, Alice.’

“Cau­tion – Speed cam­era.”

‘I KNOW, Alice!’

“Cau­tion – red light cam­era, speed cam­era AND high ac­ci­dent zone ahead.”


It re­minds me of the old days hurtling up the Paci c High­way with the kids on board.

“You can each have a lolly but only if you stop ght­ing!”

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