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The War upon the Motorcar begins

October 18, 2013


So that was how the war upon the motorcar began; or that’s how the story came to be told, at any rate, once it, Jason Walker and his activities came to acquire legendary and mythical status.

To be fair, though, it doesn’t quite hang together, does it?

All right, so Jason’s little boy was run down by a careless driver, perhaps even killed. And Jason’s partner Clara might well have blamed Jason for the accident – for not teaching Darren enough fear of cars, or for distracting her with a silly squabble when she might have stopped their son from running off into the road, and so Jason might have blamed that particular car and its driver for the final collapse of his marriage. But would that have added up to such an obsessive hatred of all motor cars that Jason would literally have declared war upon them?

It’s the fuzzy sort of sentimental logic you might expect from a film, and even then we would expect our hero Jason to go through hell obsessively searching for the culprit Nobby and, once he’d finally caught up with him, taking some vigorous revenge or other. And at that point he might have been inspired to reflect that it was the combustion engine powered machine that was the real cause of the trouble and, having experienced the thrill of acting as an agent of Justice, Jason could possibly have decided to widen his campaign to include motor cars in general. But if you really are prepared to accept that as the order of events, then, well, Jason does seem to come across as a bit of a nutter, doesn’t he?

“Why did the defendant engage in so many petty and major acts of vandalism, disruption and destruction upon such a huge number of motorcars?”

“Because his son got run over.”

It’s an explanation of sorts, but it doesn’t seem to have the full weight of proper legal argument, does it? You might as well go about attacking doctors and surgeons because some loved one gets a fatal illness, or assassinate a member of the government whenever the economy is not to your liking. It all seems thin and journalistic, and Jason doesn’t come across very well, not so much a hero as a pathetic victim type indulging in special pleading so his crimes might be excused.

You might as well forget all this melodrama and just accept the fact that Jason really did not like cars; and who can blame him? Nasty smelly things, of course they have caused too many deaths, and have a horrible effect on the environment, both ecologically and in terms of the way the world looks, with roads and garages and car parks everywhere, and natural features being eaten up at a shocking rate, and that’s not to mention the hideous effect they’ve had on the global economy and history, with wars for petrol and all the weapons being developed from motorised devices and this petty emphasis on high speed.

In fact, it would almost be more satisfactory to imagine that Jason was already so eager to declare war upon the motorcar that he deliberately engineered the whole accident just so he’d have a decent excuse for doing so. However, that would of course make him a terrible villain, unforgivably wicked, and you can imagine how Jason’s opponents would love to play up that angle as they attempt to influence the way he is viewed by posterity, while Clara, poor woman, could not help feeling on some level, at least, that that was exactly right and so Jason was truly responsible for their son’s misfortune.

We like to think that history is made by individuals, who are influenced by particular incidents, to which they respond with a fair degree of free will, with consequences and far reaching results that, while they may not be entirely predictable, do eventually seem to obey some kind of logic. So yes, it would be highly persuasive if we were to witness Jason – in the midst of some TV interview or televised trial, or in conversation with a trusted confidante, or even in the course of his interior monologue – fessing up and letting us know that his “war” really was sparked off by some idiot motorist knocking his boy over one afternoon.

And yet, do we really want to consider him such a helpless tool of circumstance? Do we want to regard ourselves that way, so easy to manipulate, even when we’re indulging in the freedom supposedly allowed in the course of reading a story? Wouldn’t it be better just to say “yes, of course we detest motor cars and their effect, let’s enjoy the fantasy of having some figure doing his best to rid us of them for once and for all, by fair means or foul”?

This may well seem a bit strenuous, and I can only apologise for that, and suggest that you consider that while merely getting a narrative properly launched may be laborious, how much harder it would be for one of Jason’s pacific, gentle, one might even say apathetic nature to overcome his personal idleness and commit himself to a struggle that might end up taking the remaining years of his life, probably with precious little reward and all sorts of costs.

The reader is of course at liberty not to see Jason’s actions from this point on as at all heroic. Those truly wedded to the car based world might choose to consider him as something of a villain, a Luddite, enemy of progress, a short sighted idiot. Jason himself was not as free of such thoughts as he would have liked.

Nevertheless, he stood about in the small car park opposite the chip shop, making sure the people in there could not see him, allowing a lady with a noisy terrier to walk past, strenuously listening out for any possible witnesses for what he was about to do.

There were three taxis parked in that small space, all Fords, only one showing any indication that it belonged to someone who lived there.

Jason walked up to the vehicle in question, elaborately casual but horribly aware that he had no remotely believable cover story. He reached into the left back pocket of his jeans and pulled out a knife.

Hands shaking, Jason eased the blade out, tested it on his thumb -it was very sharp!- and dropped.

He steadied himself against the boot with his left hand, raised his right arm with the wooden handled pen knife tightly squeezed in his hand and plunged it towards the tyre of the left back wheel, missing it completely.

It took three attempts before Jason finally managed to insert the blade into the tyre. He was relieved it didn’t make a loud bang, annoyed that he couldn’t tug the knife down further through the tough material and, once it was obvious that damage had been done and air escaping, thoroughly elated and nervous and running back to his block, convinced that a party of police and irate neighbours would soon be catching up with him.

The whole block was quiet and Jason got himself safely back inside the flat, which was empty, as Clara was up at the hospital to spend the night with their son, leaving him alone to think about what he’d done.


From → Critic, Writer

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