Monday, July 11, 2005


Today is the first anniversary of the death of my second-favourite thing in the world: my bright yellow 1977 Leyland Mini convertible*.

I'd been at a small supper party with some friends, eating chocolate fondue and playing increasingly psychotic games of charades in an apartment in Claisebrook. I left around 12.40am on a bitterly cold Sunday morning, and my poor little car chugged and sputtered into life to carry me home.

I drove out onto Plain Street, then up onto the overpass that would take me onto the Graham Farmer Freeway. As I was driving up I saw the lights go green for the right turn I wanted to make, and I hoped they would stay green until I got there. Unfortunately I hadn't noticed another set of traffic lights before the ones I was looking at, and I had barely enough time to think, "What the hell is that car doing there?" before we collided. There was a terrific bang, the front of my car reared up at me, broken glass sprayed across my lap and the Mini was turned around by 90 degrees.

I sat there for quite a while, trying to take it in. My first thought was, "Well, this is not something that can be fixed with a bit of panel beating." My second thought was, "Am I hurt? No? Good." My third thought was, "Oh crap, this is just what I need," closely followed by, "I should really get out of this car in case it catches fire or explodes or something."

The other car was a black Holden Vectra with comparatively minor damage to the front passenger-side corner. The driver was a woman about my age, who didn't want to get out of her car for some reason. I think she was a lot more shaken than I was. The police arrived maybe two minutes after the accident - they'd just been cruising by on patrol. A few minutes later an ambulance turned up, but in my more flippant moments I think that may have been because Royal Perth Hospital is so close that they could hear the bang.

The Mini was towed off to my insurance company's lot and I was taken home by taxi. Despite my car's complete lack of safety equipment, I was perfectly unharmed except for a bruise on my thigh where the impact lifted me off the seat and banged me against the steering wheel, and a small graze on my elbow where it punched through the driver's side window. That, and the unpleasant case of delayed shock that hit me twelve hours later.

The insurance company wasted no time in declaring the Mini a write-off, and paid me out in less than a week. A week later I bought the Golf. Unlike the Mini, the Golf had an electric roof, a working heater, air conditioning and a rear demister. Unlike the Mini, the Golf didn't pull to the left, leak through the door seals, force freezing draughts onto my neck, have seatbelts that locked up or seats that had rusted into position.

But the Golf also doesn't have the distinctive rip-roaring sound in its exhaust that lead my ex-Flatmate to name my Mini 'Blat', a name which stuck like glue. Furthermore it doesn't corner like a go-cart, tear away from the lights like a berserk terrier, or cause complete strangers to smile and wave as I drive by.

I'm sorry I killed you, Blat, and I miss you terribly.


*My first-favourite thing in the world was my cat Pugwash, who died in 1998 and was, without any shadow of exaggeration, the Best Cat in the World. More on him some other time.


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