WIL­LIAM McINNES

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - INSIDE - WIL­LIAM McINNES Wil­liam McInnes is an ac­tor and au­thor

I make no pre­tence of be­ing a good driver. I try to be, but I know I up­set peo­ple. Es­pe­cially when I’m in a rental ve­hi­cle and am ex­posed as the un­der­cover Volvo driver I re­ally am.

Wind­screen wipers and in­di­ca­tors. That is partly the prob­lem. I have never un­der­stood why in­di­ca­tors and wipers are on one side of the steer­ing wheel in Euro­pean cars and on the other side for cars made in Aus­tralia. All right, cars that were once made in Aus­tralia.

Also, I have started wear­ing a hat when I drive. I have no idea why. Per­haps it’s a cy­cle of life thing, but I’ve be­come one of those driv­ers my mother used to warn us about: “A drongo in a hat!”

The first time I heard this was on the way to the mar­vel­lous old Crys­tal Palace cin­ema in Bris­bane’s in­ner north, where I was go­ing to see a Humphrey Bog­art dou­ble-bill – Casablanca and The Mal­tese

Fal­con. The driver my mother spied had a hat, not un­like the fe­dora Humphrey wore, and drove a car that was called a Cedric. A Nis­san Cedric. From then on all hat­ted driv­ers be­came “Bloody Cedrics”. We also couldn’t be­lieve it when the “Bloody Cedric’’ sat in front of us in the Crys­tal to watch Humphrey. Wear­ing his hat.

Now I’m a “Bloody Cedric’’ my­self. When­ever I am in a rental car and away from the Scan­di­na­vian tank, I soon make new friends. Some just shake their heads. Some send me sign lan­guage mes­sages with one or two fin­gers. Some go on and on with full mime – arms wav­ing and with vig­or­ous mouth move­ments, like watch­ing Sen­a­tor Michaelia Cash do an in­ter­view with the sound turned down.

Some scream at me like old footy coaches. But never had I been sin­gled out by a fel­low driver with a phrase bel­lowed, mourn­fully, like he was some an­cient prophet: “What don’t you un­der­stand?”

Which isn’t that sur­pris­ing, be­cause he wasn’t a prophet from the Old Tes­ta­ment; he was a tradie in a big, pur­pose­ful ute on the clot­ted ar­te­rial that is the Bruce High­way. “What don’t you un­der­stand?” he cried out, then stared at me.

I knew I had done some­thing wrong, but had no idea what. I of­fered a raised hand in sup­pli­ca­tion and mouthed, in my best Michaelia Cash man­ner: “Sorry.’’

Old Tes­ta­ment Tradie wasn’t hav­ing a bar of it. He pointed to me as we sat mo­tion­less in the traf­fic and cried out again: “What don’t you un­der­stand?”

Now that is a ques­tion to dwell on. I crawled off an exit ramp and he sat look­ing up at me from his ute. What don’t I un­der­stand? Well, lots of things. I don’t un­der­stand fun­da­men­tal­ists. Of any kind. Fun­da­men­tal­ists see the world with­out com­plex­ity and with­out un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ing lay­ers of hu­man­ity.

They don’t see that life isn’t the same for all peo­ple and they don’t want to make room for other points of view, ide­olo­gies and be­liefs. And they don’t seem to value life. I have never un­der­stood why peo­ple wear drop-crotch pants. No­body needs that much space in a pair of strides.

I don’t un­der­stand why I still get lost driv­ing in the Bris­bane CBD and can’t re­mem­ber which streets are one-way and which aren’t.

I don’t un­der­stand why any­body would vote for the Greens, but I do know I am a con­ser­va­tive old fart and am happy that peo­ple turn up and cast a vote for any­body they choose. Even if it’s the Greens. I don’t un­der­stand why I still buy a Dag­wood Dog at the Red­cliffe Show, even though I can never eat it. I sup­pose tra­di­tions are im­por­tant.

I don’t un­der­stand why I thought it was a good idea to wear Stub­bies and a skivvy to a party in the ’80s – and try to crack on to a young woman who went on to be­come a rather fa­mous ac­tor (and won’t let me for­get it). And I don’t un­der­stand what it was I did that seemed so wrong to the Old Tes­ta­ment Tradie in the ute. Still, with all the sin­cer­ity that a “Bloody Cedric’’ can muster, I’m sorry.

I have started wear­ing a hat when I drive ... I’ve be­come one of those driv­ers my mother used to warn us about: ‘A drongo in a hat!’

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