We don’t have an “ordinary” relationship with our cars. They are not JUST products and they cannot be reduced to a BRAND. Our choice of car says much about how we see ourselves, and, importantly, our cars communicate our identity to others faster than an evening of conversation.
I am often struck by the type or colour of car that a person drives — especially when the car does not coincide with MY sense of that person. In a way it is like speaking with someone on the phone and then, when you meet face-to-face, you find that the colour of their hair is the “wrong” colour. It is even stranger when someone turns out to ride a motorbike — especially if you picture them as a car driver. Perhaps this says more about me than about them. It is weird, but when I meet someone, I almost immediately get a sense of the car that they drive. Even reading a person’s blog gives me a sense of what kind of car they would drive. So when I was reading that Russell Davies didn’t mind the idea of a Honda Goldwing (ie an armchair with wheels), I was at a loss. It just did not fit for me.
Imagine how relieved I was to read this post. Suddenly it made more sense … Russell was really a JPS F1kind of guy. What really sunk home was the line, “The Formula One of my youth” — this is where the power of cars and of motorbikes really sits — in memory. One of the reasons that cars resonate for us is that they have an immediate, PRESENT effect on us as we drive them. They offer us a huge PROMISE (escape, fun, adventure) and then they deliver. And they keep delivering as memories (even an “old bomb” of a car can come to be loved over time) … and as STORIES.
It is the story that is important. The more stories we can build around the car, the more we will remember and love the car, and the more we drive (or even live in) the car, the greater will be our attachment. But, as a protagonist in the story, the car MUST have character (sometimes it even needs a name — could Stephen King’s Christine have been called anything else?). And the character and even the name reflects something back at us, links us with our own sense of identity and the wider world.
Really, there is nothing wrong with driving an armchair with wheels. After all, where else do you sit for storytime?