Nothing says ‘Canberra’ like a bad driver. In the metaphorical sense, of course. In reality, a lot of things say Canberra. Well, maybe not a lot. A few. Like people. And parrots.
If I had a parrot, I’d definitely teach it to say “Canberra.” But then, if I had a parrot, it would sit on my shoulder and say “Pieces of eight” a lot as well. Aar.
Bad drivers and Canberra go together like a pirate and his plundering. But not in the same way. Like, if a guy cuts you off on the parkway, you don’t usually drop anchor, grab your musket and cutlass and swing into his car via a chandelier or any conveniently placed rigging, sail or curtain. I’m just saying that pirates plunder and Canberra drivers are absolutely shit. Not Sydney shit, with its manic drivers who will drive the wrong way up a one-way street just to get two car spaces in front of you. And it’s not Melbourne shit where they turn right from the left lane. And it’s not Queensland shit with its stupid Queenslanders. Canberra drivers are shit in their own ways.
For one, Canberrans are split in the whole indicator “leave it on, never use it” debate. I’ve been behind a person who had his left indicator on from Banks to Amaroo before actually turning, and that was just to change lanes. (For those unfamiliar with the Canberra layout, Banks is as far south as anyone needs to go [sorry Cooma] and Amaroo is somewhere out in the northern sticks). Obviously we took a strange route that involved no curved roads. On the other hand, most drivers in the Berra are so important that their daily driving plans have been given to everyone else in the world, and so have no need for indicators at all. The trouble with this though, is that everyone is so damn important that no one reads anyone else’s plans. The end result is obviously a big fat mess of unblinking proportions. Driving around the city is a lot like a Mr Magoo episode, but funnier. No wait. Mr Magoo is a comic genius. It’s more like an episode of Full House. Cut – It – Out. That shit never gets old. Never.
Did you see that movie “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”? No, neither did I, and if you answered ‘yes’ to that question, I’m coming over to your house to punch you in the goiter. But what I can gather from the previews, it’s about a bunch of dudes who drive really fast around Tokyo. Sideways.
Anyway, “Fast and the Furious: Canberra Amoeba” is similar to that (and Tokyo Drift was pretty similar to 2Fast, 2Furious, which in turn was along the same lines as Fast and the Furious, which in my opinion, had the same plot as Smokey and the Bandit, but that’s my beef, not yours), except that ‘Canberra Amoeba’ is more about changing lanes very, very slowly. The plot goes like this:
Trevor (Jonathon Taylor Thomas) is a hotshot advertising executive who has just broken up with his girlfriend (Jenna van Oj). So he moves to Canberra to start a new life. He has no friends, no family, just heaps of cash and a ‘fully sick’ Excel. He’s lowered it, donked it, doofed it, boofed it and woofed it. And it has tinted windows and cup holders in the back. After a day at the National Dinosaur Museum, he returns to his car to find that someone has keyed it. Distraught, he does what he does best – he drives. Whilst passing by Scrivener Dam, he comes across a gang of hard nut rebels called the “ADFA Boyz”, distinctive in their white pants and boat shoes. Led by “Squad Leader” (Jerry O’Connell’s brother), the ADFA Boyz show Trevor the “Canberra Amoeba”; the art of driving alongside another vehicle and very, very, very slowly drifting into the other person’s lane without them realising. Do it right, and – SHLUPP! – they’ve been absorbed like an amoeba into your car. Trevor learns that Squad Leader and the Boyz are planning a dangerously slow attack on their arch rivals, the Weston Creek Coolies. In a unique twist to the plot, Squad Leader’s sister Sharyn (Paris Hilton) is part of the Coolies, and has fallen in love with Trevor after four Bacardi’s and two West Coast Coolers. In an exciting final confrontation, Trevor and Squad Leader face off against each other down Northbourne Avenue. Can a thousand sets of traffic lights, endless roadworks and nineteen squeegee windscreen men escape THE CANBERRA AMOEBA?
Sounds pretty good, huh? Hollywood, call me.
Canberra also has, admittedly, a lot of roundabouts. This is not such a bad thing. You can make a wrong turn anywhere and be able to get back on the right path in a maximum of two right hand turns. It’s fantastic. Compare this to Sydney, where you’ll make a wrong turn, have to pay $12,000 in tolls and be driving around aimlessly for the next six years of your life. By the time you get back to where you were before, you’ve forgotten what you’re doing, and may make the same stupid wrong turn you did before. By the time you remember where you wanted to go (just down to the fish n chip shop), your family has given up on you, your wife has moved on and remarried and your children have turned into satanic cult leaders. How quickly they grow up. In Canberra, you can actually get places quicker by making wrong turns. It’s tops.
Well, it would be if Canberrans knew how to use roundabouts. People are always confused by the “give way to your left… or is it right” phenomenon, and basically resort to just flooring the accelerator, closing their eyes and swerving randomly to get around. While it adds a bit of spice to a road trip and gets the adrenaline pumping, it can also be quite stressful on the old ladies that you knock down. And their seventy maltese-terrier puppies.
But the greatest part of Canberra driving is the appreciation that road users have for their cycling counterparts. Some champion decided several years ago that everyone in Canberra either has a bike, or has evolved wheels where their legs should be, so he put a cycle lane on every friggin piece of bitumen in the holy capital. I don’t have anything against bikes and bike riders (hey, if there’s an accident, I’m pretty sure my car is going to win that little stoush) but the fact that half of every major road in Canberra is taken up by a largely vacant stretch of space that could be quite easily filled with, well, another lane of traffic, really gets on some people’s goat. As well as occupying the majority of road, the footpaths and pedestrian walking path things that follow EACH AND EVERY ROAD are also split in two for the sake of bikers.
The majority of Canberrans are either fat, middle-aged public servants, deadbeat arts students or are just plain lazy. Yes, I’m putting all of you people into categories. Said public servants are not going to be riding bikes anywhere – no matter how sturdy that basket on the front is, you will not be trusting it with your fifty boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. And the students aren’t going to ride anywhere, because they’re too busy complaining about everything and are quite possibly drunk. And the lazy people… well, I think you understand what I’m saying. Riding a bike is always fun, but it does mean you have to get up a bit earlier, ride around in sub-zero temperatures and wind up wherever you’re going a sweaty, pink-faced mess of a person. And no matter how easy you think that chick in marketing is, you will not be getting anywhere with her in those bike pants.
In the immortal words of Shannon Noll (well, Bryan Adams said it, but didn’t have the balls to try and ruin his career with the song, so he gave it to our very own Aussie Idol): Come on, let’s drive. But don’t be a fuckwit about it. Yes, I’m talking to you, Mr. Pajero YTK 410. Prick.