As I have a habit of trying to stitch an incredibly tenuous link between motoring and the news of the day together, you may have thought that the General Election would be an absolute God-send; I know I did. Simply make some sweeping, stereotypical generalisations about each party, throw in one or two snappy lines comparing those who don’t tickle my own particular political fancy to an Austin Allegro or similar and the job would be done. I could then get on to my usual Friday night routine of Mac’s Gold and advanced lethargy.
Unfortunately a spanner has been thrown in the works. Because most of my evening has been occupied by a wedding in the incredibly beautiful Waitakere ranges, there is every chance that once I’ve actually got a suitable work of literary genius cobbled together and uploaded onto the interweb, Friday night will have become Saturday morning. And because we are still governed by laws designed to stop people threatening one another with swords on their way to the polling booths, anything I say which could be construed as an attempt to influence the way people tick their boxes on Election Day itself could, in theory, land me in hot water with the boys in blue.
Given that the P. M has already confirmed that our police force has more spare time than it knows what to do with, this is a chance that I don’t want to take. While voting is a key matter of national importance I’m certainly not prepared to do hard labour just for writing about it. I’m sure some of you would say being so risk averse is a little conservative and I will admit, it is against my usual manner to act in this way, but I’m not so green as to ignore the potential consequences. So politics in any shape and form is a no-go this week.
Instead I will talk about roads; or to be more specific, a road. On my little jaunt to the nuptials tonight, I took my first drive on the new Hobsonville extension of State Highway 18 and there is only one word that can sum it up. Brilliant. Utterly, utterly, brilliant.
It has never been much of a secret that the good folk of New Zealand are pretty handy when it comes to building stuff. There’s something about the ‘can do’ attitude ingrained in the national genotype that gets people rolling up their sleeves and making things work. Famously this is done by men in sheds, utilising number 8 wire to achieve an end result and there is nothing wrong with that – anyone worth their salt knows that men in sheds are the very cornerstone of a progressive society – but there is not enough credit handed out for the ability to produce on a grander and more professional scale.
I very rarely get excited about a motorway – German Autobahns excluded – as they are generally drab expanses of tarmac which expedite your journey from A to B by cutting out all forms of driving pleasure. And while our newest addition to the nation’s high speed road network can hardly claim to be a riveting test of man and machine, it does get the details just right.
To start with the road surface is excellent, providing a smooth ride and minimal noise. Then there are the surrounds which look neat and precise, giving the impression that the road was not so much laid as drawn on the countryside. Even the curvatures of the bends when it feeds into and from State Highway 16 are very pleasing indeed – possibly too pleasing for our speed limit – all of which means that the good Kiwis who worked on it, from the person who first penned the idea right down to the chap who painted the white lines, can pat themselves on the back for a job very well done.
In fact, we would do well to keep this talented team together, because if they can do this good a job on a mere motorway, they could seriously rock our world with some proper driving roads. While there is currently a lot of focus on ‘roads of national significance’, it may not be such a bad idea to consider pencilling in some ‘roads of national enjoyment’ too.
Ask anyone who has tackled the Alpine passes of Europe and they will tell you that there is not much more fun to be had on four wheels. The thrilling roads, epic scenery and constant whiff of danger make for an intoxicating driving experience. Well we have our very own Southern Alps and we’ve certainly proved a talent for road construction, so there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get started and build ourselves some fun that is the envy of the motoring world.
Actually I tell a lie – there is a reason we can’t start and that’s money. Roads do not come cheaply and to pull that kind of money together you’d need to do something pretty drastic; like selling off a state owned Energy Company or two for example.
But, let’s be honest, it would almost certainly be worth it, so get out and vote for…… hang on; there are blue lights outside the window.