For The Long Haul

If there is anything good about long-haul flights it’s the chance of catching up with your reading unless, of course, you have a chatty seatmate who just won’t stop talking for 14 hours no matter how hard you try to discourage him. I mean, just the thought of hearing about his relatives, jobs, failed ambitions, sex life and stamp collection makes me shudder. And if perchance I am ever careless enough to let slip that I have made my living through writing, well, I suddenly find I am either sitting next to the new James Joyce or someone who has failed to write a single word of the earth-shattering novel he has inside him.

But back to the reading: I am not a car fanatic. Yes, I’ve owned my fair share of Volvos and Mercedes in my time, but when it finally hit me that I was using the back seat of the voluminous Mercedes as a means of transporting hay for my daughter’s horse, I gave them up and bought something more realistic – so realistic I can’t remember what it was.

So cars have remained a means of transporting others and me from Point A to Point B as smoothly and comfortably as possible. Well, that statement would have been true up to a couple of days ago when I met Tesla, the perfect woman.

Tesla, according to Newsweek, is I learned (thank the lord for long-haul flights in Upper Class that has partitions between you and your neighbours) a most gorgeous creature that whenever “you put your foot down, no kick forward. It’s the quiet that gets you.”

“Tesla, where have you been all my life?” I wanted to shout as the writing on page 73 in Newsweek got hotter and hotter. “It’s like being in a shark that has flicked its tail under water and is suddenly moving very much faster.” I glanced furtively around the cabin. This was hot stuff. Tesla “was suddenly, soundlessly, moving very much faster.” I summoned the flight attendant and ordered a drink just to watch her cute red-clad tail as she swished up the aisle to fulfill my wishes. Well, I would have enjoyed watching her walk up the aisle except it turned out the flight attendant was a male; still, he swished his tail very proficiently.

One thing I really liked about Tesla was that “there was no roar.” I do hate women who scream and shout; moaning and groaning is bad enough but shouting and screaming is simply off-putting, I think.

Eventually, of course, my befuddled brain began to realize that Tesla was rather short on endurance; she could only manage 400 km without a recharge, and even less range if she went at it not even full speed, but at a mere 140 kph.

Equally disappointing was the fact that Tesla’s main drive was housed in two big batteries under her seats – not very sexy, though the Newsweek writer seemed agog at her other attractions. Tesla, for example, turned on the wipers automatically when it rained, saving the driver the time-consuming and arduous task of doing it himself. When Tesla entered a tunnel she switched her lights on, though this was a bit doubtful and several countries now demand that cars should always drive with their lights on. On cruise control, Tesla slowed down as she approached another vehicle; when the driver pulls out, she speeds up; when the driver drifts over the line into another lane, steps out of line in other words, Tesla, like any spouse, grumbles until the driver returns to the straight and narrow.

Tesla is no cheap broad; she costs about 110,000 Euros in Europe, but what such a beauty would cost in St Lucia is almost unimaginable – probably three times the price at least. Tesla makes you face a clear choice between speed and distance; in fact it might not be long before Common Entrance Exams feature such relevant questions. The stated range is 400 km at 120kph, but much shorter at 140 kph. However, drivers will not be asked to do complicated mental arithmetic in their heads because Tesla, like any good woman, knows when her driver needs to slow down. If her batteries are running low she simply declares, “if you don’t slow down, you won’t get to your destination.” How sweet! It seems that Tesla is programmed to know where the nearest re-charging station is – quite fantastic.

Well, I must have fallen asleep round about this point because the next thing I knew was that we were landing. My son met me outside the airport terminal. He had watched us land on his cellphone via Flightradar 24 and checked the status in Customs where there were no delays, so he simply sat in his new Tesla and waited, hoping to surprise me. As we drove silently off, I could see him glancing at me, but I didn’t say a word; Tesla and I were old friends.

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