After the big party the night before, I was barrelling home to the hills in the Mighty Camira. Cruising speed 80km/hr, altitude about 150mm, ETA 20 minutes.
I felt pretty good because I have a new party trick self control. I drink mid-strength Coopers until midnight and then open the wine. After hours of drinking a lighter beer I am so ready for the wine I make sure I buy one with a screw top so there is no possibility of a glitch in the transition from 3.5 to 12 per cent.
I dont generally like screw tops for wine. You dont get that pop! sound that excites and titillates, nor the anticipation and expectation that pulling a cork from a bottle brings, but in party mode theres an easiness about the screw top.
The cork oak tree, Quercus suber, grows in the western Mediterranean area. About one third of the trees bark is harvested, without killing the tree, every nine years. Sustainable.
To make a wine cork you have to wait until the trees third harvest before the cork is of the right quality.
So, I was driving with a clear head and a fuzzy bassline pumping from the stereo.
Then it happened.
I can handle a lot of things.
At the party I was sitting on a lounge with a beautiful yawning woman telling her about how Portugal produces half the worlds corks when this drunk gay guy staggered over to me clutching his genitals through his jeans, slurring his way through a litany of bestial allusions, before attempting to mate with me. Classy.
I handled it. (It was before the wine hour. Luckily for him.)
But right there in the Mighty Camira, streaking towards home, something really awful happened the Camira stopped.
Yep. Stopped. The wheels, they no longer were doing that round and round thing.
I sat there in the dead car, disorientated. Birds sang. A distant tractor growled. A leaf fell. I just sat, my foot still twitching on the accelerator.
I am the product of a car culture.
The suburb I was brought up in was designed around car travel.
I now live in a rural paradise that requires my burning 60 litres of Iraqs finest every week. My carbon footprint is a size 12.
Ive never been without my own wheels my entire adult life.
Ive raised children in the back of a Kingswood. I have driven through a herd of Brahmin cattle at 100km/hr in a Datsun Stanza (killing two). Ive had sex in a 72 Valiant Regal. While I was driving. (Column shift.)
Stunned, I left the Camira and walked home through a heat that rose from the road in waves. Walking is strange. I thought of corks and gay sex.
The NRMA guy reckons its a blown head gasket. Its going to be expensive. I should have saved some money sometime. Ill start. From now on it will be cheap wine. Maybe with screw tops but no plastic corks.