There is a high pitched whirring in my ears that has been running for two hours. It comes and goes. It sits there in the back of my mind poking at my consciousness. Helicopters hovering above. What is it? Are we suddenly at war with whippersnippers everywhere?
Oh no, it’s March.
And in Melbourne that means one thing … the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
Today, being Thursday in my neck of the woods, it’s practice runs and time trials until the weekend. The race track is fairly central to the city and only about a couple of kilometres from my apartment.
Last year I thought that one of my neighbours was rudely playing music incredibly loud late on a Sunday evening, only to realise that as I step outside to close up neighbouring apartments that I knew the song … I Was Made For Loving You. Paul Stanley was belting out his lungs just as Gene Simmons went into a guitar solo that probably lasted half the night long. This year, it’s “The Who” playing at the Finale Concert.
So motorsport fans will pile into Melbourne with ear plugs and muffs galore to get a glimpse of Kimi Räikkönen and Mark Webber. Don’t ask me if they are actually racing, they are the only names I know.
Fortunately for Melbourne the motorsport fans of Formula One racing are generally quite well behaved. May it have something to do with the fact that they have lost their hearing and that all attempts at shenanigans are interpreted as a request for eating hot dogs from a street vendour at three in the morning.
Some years ago I was in Adelaide for the Clipsal 500. Don’t fall of your chairs just yet, I was there on tour with a show, not specifically timed to be there for the race. For those of you who may not know what the Clipsal 500 is, I can tell you it has something to do with cars. Very fast ones at that. And maybe Ford. Possibly GM Holden. But I can’t be sure.
I can still remember it now. being soothed with the dulcet tones of rubber burn outs and donuts (and that’s just in the main street), and packs of wild young men singing anthems of football fraternities, makes of vehicles and the sizes of women’s breasts. Older men just standing by and revelling in memories of youthful days gone by doing exactly the same. Buxom ladettes scantily dressed, “tsking” and rolling their eyes collectively towards the heavens as their men folk drink themselves into oblivion and butt heads with alcoholic abandon.
One of these brethren actually spoke to me.
“Are you a Holden Man or a Ford Man?”
Now, I do have to re-iterate something that most of you already know. I have on occasions taken possession of a vehicle and driven from point A to point B, yet do not possess a license to do so. I have had a learner’s permit in the past that did go to waste. If you opened the bonnet of a car I could stand there and look at the pretty colours hidden underneath the grease, but could not find a spark plug to save myself. So this question left me somewhat in a quandary. I had a fifty percent chance of getting it right.
At this point I have to remark that I do realise what a huge disappointment I am to the male member of my family in this matter.
So after the “bunny-in-the-head-lights” expression made it’s way from my face, I did what any other normal person would do. I feign an American accent, excuse my ignorance for being a foreigner to this fair city, and politely stood there listening to a droll twenty minute explanation on the virtues of motor sport. Magically seeing my friend way over yonder in the back of the crowd I excuse myself with, “Y’all have a great day now, Y’hear!
Oh and one more thing … motorsport fashion. The only time one should see a checker-board pattern is on a race winning flag or a chef’s uniform – never for fashion value
And to Melbourne’s quite large migrant population, I say “Go Ferrari Go!”
Whatever that means.