18 Nov, 2006 @ 16:33
4 mins read

The Amputee – Issue 12


ONE of the great mysteries of the Universe is why women cannot back a car into a parking spot. My mother was a good example but quickly realised her limitations in this regard and never put her car into reverse gear for thirty-five years.

My mum started driving fairly late in life and was the only person I knew who passed her driving license test on the condition she never came back and did another one. My father had initially tried to teach her to drive but after two nervous breakdowns and an increasing dependence on Valium, he passed her over to professionals. The first instructor lasted only 12 minutes and was replaced by an ex-SAS soldier who had previously won three legs of an iron-man contest. He never came back for her second lesson. I think that it took two years, six driving schools and a total of 19 different instructors before she finally passed her test.

I once asked my mother to drive me to a friend’s house, about 12 minutes away. She took 45 minutes, all of it up the middle of the road, ignoring blaring horns, rude hand gestures and stop signs. When we were almost there she looked into the rear-vision mirror to check her make-up and swerved into a wall. The wall
was Adrian Wall and he was riding a bicycle at the time. Luckily, because of her snail pace, Adrian wasn’t hurt at all and he picked himself up and politely rode away as fast as he could pedal. “I always told you bicycles were dangerous,” said my mother.


The European Union has bowed to American pressure and agreed to supply 32 pieces of personal information on every aspiring trans-Atlantic air passenger. My wife doesn’t even have that amount of personal information about me after twenty-five years of marriage. The Americans apparently want names, birth-dates, addresses, sex (yes!), phone-numbers, email addresses, credit card details, frequent flyer numbers, seat assignments, passport numbers, marital status etc. and that’s only 12 items. What the hell are the other twenty? And who will have access to all this personal data, Mr. President?

If you want to visit the US you will also have to complete a mandatory questionnaire. The questions include: “Who or what do you prefer?”

1. Jude Law?
2. Dennis Law?
3. Sharia Law?

“Who is your favourite Marx brother?”
1. Harpo?
2. Groucho?
3. Karl?

“Is Condaleeza Rice?”
1. A popular recipe from Louisiana?
2. A black Barbie doll?
3. A rap group?

Another question is: “Are ‘terrorists…”
1. An ice hockey team from Montreal?
2. Small dogs?
3. People who deserve to be tortured in the name of freedom?

I think we should prepare a questionnaire for America to answer:
1.  Why has your country been responsible, directly and indirectly, for causing the premature death of millions of foreign nationals, many of them civilians?
2.  Why do you have nearly three million of your own citizens in jail or on remand?
3.  Why are so many Americans: drug addicted, obese or executed?
4.  If your form of democracy is so attractive, why did more of your citizens vote in Pop Idol than they did in the last presidential election?
5.  Why do so many of your evangelical preachers espouse fidelity and chastity for others but can’t keep their own peckers in their pants?
6.  What hold do you have over Tony Blair?


There are plenty of people who think global warming is a central heating company and carbon dioxide emissions are something that happens to teenage boys in bed.  Many of these people buy large cars that are
more suitable to outback Kazakhstan and consume more than their fair share of fossil fuels. On the other hand there are a number of people driving cars so small that I tripped over one tiny vehicle last week and
sprained my ankle.

I learnt from the motoring section of a popular newspaper that this mini auto was not originally designed as a car, but as a wrist-watch for a sumo wrestler. When Mercedes got involved in its production, they added a metre to the length, fitted it with a 12cc engine and scrapped the watchband. They called it Swatch
Lite and it immediately won small Car of the Year at the Shanghai Motor Show. Swatch/Mercedes are planning to produce the car in L, XL and XXL. This vehicle runs for 18 months on a tank of unleaded sunflower oil, has solar-powered electric windows and the latest anti-theft protection. This last feature is not really much help because thieves will just pick the car up and carry it away. 

Soon you will be able to rent these small cars at airports.  Or bring your own in as hand luggage. Our roads are going to be full of these automotive midgets.  One problem I foresee with these tiny cars is that feral trucks are going to eat them for breakfast.  Can you imagine a brace of tourists driving a Swatch Lite up to Capileira when a truck full of building materials overtakes them? They will either implode in the vacuum or be deconstructed by the truck’s exhaust system.  Mysterious disappearances of cars and passengers will be common and you can imagine what this will do to our insurance premiums.

A friend of mine, an ex lifestyle guru, is planning to get rich from this trend in minimal motoring. He intends opening an orthopaedic care unit at Málaga airport for tourists returning their Swatch Lite rentals. Apart from masseurs, chiropractors and acupuncturists, he will offer hydraulic assistance to extricate the larger leassees and their luggage out of their vehicles.


“It’s a place where people with common goals – about aesthetics, the priority of the imagination – can live together without feeling the need to compete in the world of, say, lawyers or city traders. That kind of place used to exist in cities like Paris or New York – where are they now?” (first left out of Órgiva, direction Cañar).

These words are by a chap named Lewis Hyde and from his book called “The Gift”.

Karl Smallman

DO YOU HAVE NEWS FOR US at Spain’s most popular English newspaper - the Olive Press? Contact us now via email: [email protected] or call 951 273 575. To contact the newsdesk out of regular office hours please call +34 665 798 618.

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