Monday, August 23, 2010

Les Mis

Cruise control is brilliant. Simply get the vehicle up to speed and hit ‘set’, and with hooves off the throttle, the Goatmobile maintains that speed up hill and down dale. Of course, the Goat needs to keep both eyes open in case he catches up with a slow-moving Echo or a Sunnyman, and naturally there remains the obligation to keep his wits: both halves.

The technique for not getting speeding tickets on the daily commute whilst, as they say in the Institute of Advanced Motorists, ‘maintaining adequate progress’ appears to be to set the cruise at just a trace under the speed limit plus 20kph. And a two-tonne Goatmobile at 139.9kph is a lot of metal at a lot of velocity. The system seems to work. Both the Every Emirate Except Dubai and the Dubai (because Dubai is Special) traffic fines websites confirm no outstanding violations up to today.

Speeding tickets seem to be attracted to the Yaris like wasps to a jam pot. With no cruise control, the threat of a BMW-shaped dent in the blunt end encourages ever increasing speeds. Maybe the Goat should watch for the cameras rather than obsessing about that radiator grille filling his rear-view mirror. Or else dawdle along in the second lane at a sedate pace with the wobbly-wheeled pickups.

Why, incidentally, do the slowest drivers pick Lane 2? The Goat’s theory is that it’s because trucks are limited to 80kph and restricted to Lane 1, where they drive in convoy at that speed limit. The ancient van driver either can’t or won’t exceed 65kph, neither does he want a Mitsubishi Canter in his load bed, so he drives in Lane 2 and allows the trucks illegally to undertake. A side effect is that, in the absence of trucks, it’s theoretically possible to drive in a completely empty Lane 1 at R17 (which, as any fan of Douglas Adams will realise, is ‘no fixed velocity, but clearly far too fast.’)

Upon crossing the border into Abu Dhabi, it’s possible to go faster. Local legend has it that the cameras are set at 160kph, notwithstanding the 120kph advertised speed limit. The Goat was amused recently to read a letter in 7DAYS, the gist of which was a whinge that someone had been busted for 161kph whereas he’d allegedly been doing not a trace over 159. In the posted 120 limit; can you hear the high-pitched strains of the world’s tiniest violin?

Having calibrated his speedo through Clarissa the GPS, the Goat is confident that his oversized tyres don’t make the actual speed any less than that indicated by the instrument.

Picture the scene: Motoring at 135kph, not daring to go faster owing to the cameras, there regularly remains the very real danger of getting a three pointed star up the arse. In order to get out of the Merc’s way involves slowing to 90kph and moving into the slower traffic to the right. And the slowing is interpreted as a deliberate snub. Cue wild flashing of headlights, horn hooting and gestures that might get the Goat deported if he did them back.

So this morning the Goat experimented. The Goatmobile looks aggressive from the front, so today it was driven from Ghantoot to Shahama at exactly 159kph.

Initially the effect was startling, with the fast lane traffic parting like the Red Sea in front of a bunch of folk being pursued by Egyptians. Yet presently a black Pathfinder appeared in the Goatmobile’s mirror, and the usual tailgating and headlight flashing started. How many speeding tickets did you earn while catching up?

It did strike the Goat as amusing that a Land Cruiser with a vanity plate, for whom he vacated the left lane, was apparently being assertively piloted by Jean Valjean.

“Men like you can never change,
Men like you can never change,
No, 24601...”



nzm said...

Are you sure that he wasn't singing "The Song of Angry Men"? ;.)

Gnomad said...

not tempted to play "Doha Conkers" then Mr Goat?


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