Through Glass Eyes

Through Glass Eyes
Ever wondered what your car thinks about you? Or about anything else, for that matter? If so, this autobiography of a 1975 Triumph Dolomite Sprint will go a long way towards satisfying your curiosity. Wittily written, with politically incorrect sideswipes at everything from industrial relations to modern policing, the story is as much about the car's owners as it is about 'Dolly' himself. Yes, Dolly the Dolomite knows it's a girl's name, and he's suffered enough for it over the years, but that's what Roger and Sylvia call him and he's not the type to break the Code of Conduct and reveal his sex to his driver. You don't know about the cars' Code of Conduct? Then you clearly have a lot to learn - so let Dolly be your courteous, informed and entertaining guide to this hitherto secret world.
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They were certainly an exotic bunch; suave, handsome, and incredibly athletic.

There were the Ferrari brothers – Dino, 308GTS and 365GTSBB; the Lamborghinis – or Lambos as they preferred to be known – Jarama, Urraco and Countach; and the Maseratis, Merak and Khamsin. All of them were garrulous, sophisticated and utterly unpredictable.

Bertie revelled in their sparkling company.

‘ ’Allo, Bertie. ’Ow issa it with you?’ asked Dino, a grin on his grille.

‘Fantastic, old man. And you?’

‘Belissimo, belissimo. I luvva the ’orses. Who issa your little friend?’

‘This is Dolly.’

‘Issa girl’s name, no?’

‘It’s a nickname,’ I hastily pointed out.

‘Issa no matter. You enjoy yourself. Come and meet the boys.’

There is something about the rich isn’t there? Confident, full of life, exuberant, carefree. Like it or not, the rich are different. The Italians weren’t just rich – they were mega rich. So mega rich in fact that money was a dirty word, a common word. They were awash with it and not once did I hear the word mentioned.

I felt privileged.

A little way down the slope from Bertie and the Italians and closer to the racecourse, a silver Rolls-Royce Camargue and a black Daimler Majestic were parked side by side, facing uphill. Both were looking down their long bonnets at the Italians.

‘Flashy foreigners,’ snorted the Rolls. It was said just a little too loudly not to be deliberate.

‘Common as muck, no breeding,’ added the Daimler, even louder.

The Italians and Bertie looked up to see where the snide remarks had come from.

‘I say, chaps, mind your manners,’ remarked Bertie

‘Did someone squeak?’ said the Rolls, pretending to hear a noise.

‘Must be some rust on the old brake drums,’ crowed the Daimler.

I gasped in disbelief. This was a flagrant breach of Rule 6: Always be polite and courteous to other cars.What I hadn’t realised until then was there is one rule for the rich and another for the rest of us.

No, correction. The rich don’t bother with rules.

‘I beg your pardon,’ persisted Bertie. ‘I think you’d better apologise to my friends.’

‘Issa no matter, Bertie,’ said Merak, turning towards the pair. ‘They issa just a pair of ignorant, old farts.’

‘What did you call us, you pile of tin?’ shouted the Daimler.

‘You ’eard me, toffee nose. I said you and your friend are a pair of ignorant, old farts.’

‘Come over here and say that, Eyetie. You won’t be so brave then,’ challenged the Rolls.

What happened next was testimony to the commonly held belief that those of a Latin origin are prone to having a quick temper. Merak must have released his handbrake and began, ever so slowly at first, to roll down the gentle slope towards where the tormentors were parked. It didn’t take him long to pick up speed. As he headed towards the Rolls, I could see a wild look in his head­lights matched by a look of disbelief from the Rolls.

Looking back, I can remember every detail of Merak’s progress down the slope almost as if time had stood still. Homing in on the Rolls, the bright yellow thoroughbred completed his terrible mission with an almighty bang, resulting in a direct hit on the front of the Rolls. The momentum imparted was so great that the impact shunted the Rolls backwards into an old, but classic Bentley who was having sixty winks. The old gentleman was so startled that he rolled forward and ended up nuzzling against the rear bumper of a dowager Daimler, who screamed with shock at the terrible violation of the hallowed Rule 2: Never, ever, make any kind of improper advances to a car of the female sex.

Pandemonium broke out with horns sounding everywhere. Drivers came streaming back to the slopes from the track, bewildered by what was going on. The Rolls was apologising profusely to the old Bentley who was berating him, while Merak was taking a chunk out of the Rolls’ front wing.

Then the piercing sound of Dino’s air horns sliced through the air. (Our drivers think we have only a single tone when we blow our horns, but they’re mistaken. Their hearing isn’t sufficiently acute to detect the full range of sounds we produce.)

Before long, Dino’s friends joined in.

The noise was deafening.

The Italians were cheering.



‘Despite not being a driver, and never in fact having taken a driving lesson, I really enjoyed the book. It is very, very well written, and the really clever thing is it is written from the viewpoint of a car (which you think may not work, but it does, and very successfully.)’

-R J Ellory, Award winning author, and Richard & Judy 2008 Book Club with ‘A Quiet Belief In Angels’

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