View from the Bridge: 20

by John Morrison


20: Rallying Round

It's Saturday in Milltown and, it must be said, everywhere else too. We've just had a vintage car rally. A desultory crowd gathered to watch the vehicles as they passed by; strange, really, since a parade of noisy, smoky, clapped-out old bangers is a daily spectacle in Milltown. Considering the global impact of the internal combustion engine, you might as well have a weekend celebration of, say, nerve gas or Agent Orange.

The sluggish parade held up the progress of Mr Smallholder's Range Rover for a few precious seconds, reducing him to impotent rage. Sitting at the crossroads, with knuckles white on the steering wheel, he tried, in vain, to rationalise the situation. "What if I drive straight through this parade: what's the worst that can happen? OK, I'lI kill a few people... But I'll get to the golf match on time, kow-tow to a few influential clients and earn pots of money...". For a lifelong Tory voter these are by no means a rhetorical questions.

His murderous reverie is interrupted by the insistent ringing of his mobile phone. It is Mrs Smallholder, reminding him to drop the car off at Lesbian Motors of Milltown, for their heavily advertised executive valeting service. "And make sure", she reminds him, "that they do the job properly. Last time all they did was check the oil, empty the ashtrays and change the suckers on the Garfield".

When Princess Diana was killed, the landlord of the Grievous Bodily Arms lost a great role model: yes, the driver, whose cheerful willingness to drive while totally pissed will be remembered long after it has been forgotten. "I actually drive better when I've had a few", says the landlord, with the misplaced confidence of the damned. He has only managed to hang onto his licence because whenever he causes a spectacular pile-up around town, the Milltown police blithely assume it's just a piece of performance art.

His ability to get from 0-60mph in the pub car-park impresses those of his regulars who hail from from the shallow end of the gene pool. And in deference to his unrivalled skill in leaving the scene of the crime at speed, he has been rewarded by a grateful local mafia with a company getaway car.

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