Driving back home from the Belfast International yesterday afternoon, we were pottering through Templepatrick when I noticed lots of brands (marks?) of cars that I hadn’t seen all week in France.
The French are probably a combination of practical and parochial. They like small cars, and they like French cars (extending the cheque book of friendship across to the odd Italian import).
- No SUVs. No Land Rovers. No big jeeps. Can’t remember seeing a 4x4 all week.
- Plenty of Espace-type people carriers, but nothing outrageously oversized.
- Instead lots of Twingos (old and new models), Peugeot 107s, Citron C1 and C2s, a surprising number of Minis, and quite a few Smart cars around Paris.
- The only Ford models on the road were the odd Fiesta, Ka and a single Focus.
- Very few Mercedes or BMW - though Volkswagen Polos and Golfs were common enough.
Yet, driving through Templepatrick, the array of manufacturers’ vehicles flying past on the other side of the road was bewildering. And the size of them compared to the number of people inside was extraordinary.
The BBC News home page has a couple of spots reserved for quirky and unusual stories, labelled Also in the News. They’re often the most clicked on links after the top story. This morning featured the irresistible Wrong gear confusion leads to flattened sports car - a practical example of why the French might be right to drive on the small side.
Whata mistaka to maka!
However clicking through to read the story brought an unexpected feeling of shame. It was a Northern Ireland story. A Belfast story. Yet more positive representation of thriving Northern Ireland!
It's the story of a Lexus SUV that instead of reversing out of a parking space in the Co-Op car park on the Lisburn Road went forward, and with an automatic gearbox, traction control, and a sturdy pair of wheels, drove up on top of a Porsche Boxster and a Toyota Celica.
Ronan O’Kane’s on-the-spot pictures tell the awful story.
Dominic Montague, who works in a nearby coffee shop, saw the Lexus driver in the aftermath of the crash.
“She just looked befuddled, she couldn't really understand what was going on - which is probably understandable enough if you drove a car out over two other cars,” he said.
It’s not all funny ...
One person, believed to be the Porsche driver, was taken to hospital. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
... and the police are now investigating.
Update - after lunch - although the front page title remains the same, the actual article has been re-titled, from Gear mistake flattens sports car to Lexus rollover in parking lottery, and much of the speculation about going not quite getting into reverse gear has been wiped.