Habitable Cars: what we do there
Two seats and a small sofa all facing forwards. The three piece suite of the conventionally designed car. A little living room. It is supplied with a stereo for playing music and a radio. More commonly now, DVD players for the occupants of the sofa. No curtains. No coffee table. Not much in the way of shelves. No room to walk around; sitting is all there is on offer. A lot of windows though, and a lot of doors. The view from the windows changes pretty much constantly as does where you will alight if you leave by one of the doors. It is hard to write there and conversation can be difficult when traffic noise intrudes. The neighbours are always changing, sometimes they’re teenagers, sometimes they’re families, sometimes lone men and sometimes buses. They can be nuisances at times and almost never come round for a cup of sugar. A little living room that is hardly like a living room at all. The car interior. Its chairs and windows have been a constant feature of my life as I’m sure they have been for most of us here today. Early memories of staring at the windscreen wipers creating their distinctive asymmetrical shapes on the windscreen. The clunk of car doors. The smell of vinyl seating. Teenage kicks in a rusty runaround. Near misses and accidents. Conversations about love, death and insurance. Beloved offspring kicking the backs of the seats. Old age arriving in the persistent urge to drive well below the speed limit on the motorway. So much of life is there in that second smallest room, sitting side by side, with a road ahead.