How many of us watched that superb footage of the Space Shuttle slowly making its way through the streets of Los Angeles and thought: "Now THAT is a car.
I want one NOW." We've always secretly hated those work superiors or neighbours who've got what they think (ha! – just wait) is a "move out of my way, I'm king of the road" shiny black BMW with the unnecessarily bulky bodywork. The fools!
Now, watching Endeavour's magisterial progress, it was suddenly you behind the wheel, 25 feet above the road. It was you who saw one of those BMWs you've had to give way to in the past and it was you who slowly trundled up its road -
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The owner is cleaning the inside of the car, blissfully unaware on this Saturday morning of what is about to happen. He has a smug (sic) of coffee with him and is gently humming. You loathe him. As you draw closer, your enemy becomes aware of a slight tremble. He sees ripples on the top of his coffee, just like in the famous scene in Jurassic Park. Then, looking up through the windscreen, he sees the sky go dark as the nose of the Endeavour passes over. Your Endeavour. You're at the window, which you've wound down (and that was one of the many surprises when you went to the dealership – the windows go up and down).
"Sorry, pal," you say. "I think you'll find it's me who's got right of way now," before your words are drowned out by a magnificent crushing sound as the curve of your rockets pummels all that beautiful German bodywork into the road.
But first, the dealership. The guy has all the spiel. "Now, sir. Can I ask you, how many times do you get irritated waiting for the lights to change? Well, with the all-new, Nasa Endeavour, that becomes a thing of the past. Just press this button here – not now, sir! – the one marked 'Leave Earth's atmosphere and all its attendant worries behind'; yes, it's quite a large button – and then watch as those traffic lights flame and disintegrate behind you. Cool, huh? It's what we mean by 'wait loss'."
You're impressed. It has got sun visors inside, and a little fold-out thing for hot drinks. Then you spoil it.
"How many miles does it do to the gallon?" Suddenly the salesman has gone.