Here is a little game for my fay yeomen. Think of the most mundane fantasy perpetuated by the media and by the advertising industry that is just impossible to recreate in real life. By that I mean the media portrayal of lifestyle of the fictional and the real.
At the moment, I think that my offering in this arena would be personal transportation.
In the media, people drive cars that match their character and position. While us mere mortals by cars based upon our budget and the mundane practicalities dictated by our lives, media characters are blissfully unfettered by such restraints.
A good example of this could be Morse, the fictional detective created by Colin Dexter. Although he worked in Oxford , a notoriously difficult place to navigate in any car, he elected to drive an old mark 2 Jaguar. Of course, despite its age, this car never let the Inspector down (see Note1). More amazingly, whenever Morse was called upon to visit anywhere in Oxford, he always found a convenient parking space right outside his destination – something that any visitor to Oxford will tell you is as likely as snogging Elle McPherson.
You never see James Bond on the bus. Despite having an office in the middle of London, he never arrives late due to leaves on the line or a signalling problem at London Bridge . He is never shown popping into the local newsagent to pay the congestion charge. Despite having a change of clothes for every eventuality, you never see him hauling a cumbersome case through an airport (see Note 2). Again, the creative process not letting real life and practicalities never intrude and tarnish the fantasy.
Like everyone else, I swallowed the fantasy. From a tender and innocent age, I had a yearning for a car of my own, the freedom of the open road and the ability to get from A to B in the shortest possible time. I absorbed the marketing and advertising and the hype that the badge on your car moulded the callow youth and defined the man. (see Note 3)
Now the lifestyle fantasy that surrounds my car is so ingrained that I cling to the idea that it will get me from A to B in the blink of an eye. Despite all experience to the contrary, I believe I will arrive at my destination and glide into an available (And free) parking space within spitting distance of my goal. With wind-tousled hair (see Note 4) feeling calm and fresh, I will be ready to enjoy whatever delights B has to offer.
While Inspector Morse has the magic of television to help him through the car hating streets of Oxford, I don’t have the same help to navigate my way to Cambridge. I have to endure the jams and the congestion and the frustration and the cyclists (see Note 5) of a daily commute.
The mandarins of the council have, like every other congested city in this Fair Isle, decided that action must be taken to stop people driving cars in the city. To this end, they have drawn a line around the city and decided that everyone who passes this line will pay a ‘congestion charge’ fee. For me that means paying the fee for travelling approximately 20 yards inside the zone.
As you can imagine, I was none to pleased with the idea, so earlier this week, I attended the Cambridgeshire Transport Commission to oppose the idea (see Note 6). It seems that the new wibbly-wobbly bus and some fantastic new park and ride schemes will persuade us all to abandon our cars and take to the buses.
They are poor and deluded souls. They have years of programming by the media to overcome if they think they can achieve that. But, I am prepared to be flexible on this. The day I see James Bond using a bus to get to MI6 headquarters, I will be at the head of the queue for Cambridgeshire’s wonderful wibbly-wobbly bus – despite it not going anywhere near my workplace.
Note 1: And come to think of it, never required the dear Inspector perform any impromptu maintenance or even fill it with petrol.
Note 2: Given his choice of cars, I cannot see how he manages to fit his entire luggage into the limited boot space either.
Note 3: At such a tender age, I failed to consider that I would find myself restrained by budget and what proved to be, for me at least, the rather troublesome hurdle of convincing Her Majesty’s Driving Examiners that I was a fit and proper driver. Yet the fantasy was born and the clever marketing men at the car companies convinced me that I was, by the simple virtue of hire purchase, one day going to own the penis extension of my dreams. I never did get to own that car of my dreams. Practical considerations intruded that mean that all my life I have driven cars that define me as extra #6 in the automotive cast list with my participation likely to end up on the cutting room floor.
Note 4: OK, so I know that there is not enough hair on my hair to tousle, but this is all part of the fantasy. Heroes are never follically challenged on celluloid. So, deep in my brain, irrationally charged synapses flare into action as soon as I turn the ignition key. Somehow, when I brake and change down for that fast left hander, catch the apex, squeeze the accelerator and feel the slightest hint of g-forces, for a brief moment, a very brief moment reality blurs. For moment, I believe I have a full head of hair and a buxom blond has appeared in the empty passenger seat to simper “Oh James, the way you handle that gear stick really sends me.”
Note 5: Don’t get me started on the cyclists.
Note 6: I went by car as there wasn’t a bus laid on.