Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Car Wash

Whoever invented the car wash was a total genius. It’s just such a great concept, brilliantly executed. First you are sprinkled with a smattering of rain-like drops that penetrate the parched, dusty car surface, preparing it for its oncoming pounding. My little red Clio seems like a round shiny berry on an unnameable shrub, being watered with the hosepipe at the end of a halcyon-style day. Then you are coated all over with luscious foam, cocooning you inside your vehicle, which has become a fluffy cloud ship, at least when you look at the outside of it from the inside.

Then, my favourite bit: a distant rumbling sound seems to be approaching, but because of your cloudy coating you can’t see what it is. Shockingly, the tentacles of a giant, rubber bottle brush flop onto your windscreen, thwacking it with a dangerous-feeling intensity, the roller building in speed and advancing on you, clearing away the foam in a violent, uncompromising catharsis, and for a minute you wonder if it’s going to bear down on you, whipping off the roof and snapping your defenceless little corpse in half. This must be the closest people in ordinary, mundane lives can get to being in the middle of a sci fi action thriller movie, having their fictional ordinary lives turned into a film-worthy struggle for existence, ducking under the relentless roller and dodging shampoo bullets as they grab their cute child (not forgetting the teddy) and sprint to the edge of the frame, just as the Esso petrol station goes up in a giant mushroom cloud behind them, obliterating the Seacourt Business Park as it goes.

As it is, the genius who invented car washes included some kind of clever sensor in the design that allows all of the knobs and whistles to adapt the cleaning programme to the exact dimensions of your car. If only they had included funny robotic hands and arms coming out of the sides to sponge and chamois. As it is, your thoroughly foamy vehicle gets a good old rinse, and then the 360-degree hairdryer comes out, blowing a wall of hot air all round the car, rolling little beads of water over the glass like, well, solid beads of glass.

And before you know it, the show is over; you can take off your handbrake, screw your aerial back on and accelerate off, your metallic red bodywork glinting in the afternoon sun. No wonder they wrote a song about it.