“Oh, come on….out of my way, I’ve got places to go…..”
Impatience is not even thinly veiled in my voice as I drive up the main road behind a pootler. Just for the time I am behind the wheel, I am utterly convinced that in that car ahead has no sense of urgency, and no appreciation of people who have.
I have a Mercedes. It is a very old Mercedes, but it is manual, and outrageously over-powered. I put my foot down, it says “Yes, Milady,” just like Parker from Thunderbirds, and we fly away on wings of speed and grace, leaving the rest of the world behind in a cloud of dust. I feel like some Greek Odyssian anti-heroine. I am in a world of my own.
Maddie, my 13-year-old daughter, sits beside me in the passenger seat. She rolls her eyes, and switches on the radio. The strains of John Williams burst into our cabin: it is the theme to Star Wars. It is at its most rousing.
And Maddie says, Mum, that’s your theme. That’s how you drive.
Involuntarily, I slow. Really? I drive like I’m steering the Millennium Falcon through enemy space territory? With all the ducking and diving and swerving? I push away uninvited images: me in a storm trooper’s helmet – the classic one – with Macaulay the Dog guesting as Chewbacca in the seat next to me. I have flown a plane and remember commenting jubilantly that it was so much more fun than driving, because you could go in any direction: not just swerve left and right, but up and down as well.
Perhaps I do drive like Han Solo.
Which set me riffling through the files of my cluttered consciousness (hurtling forward at about 60mph as I pondered) whether Princess Leia got any driving gigs, and if so: was she any good? Or did she drive like Han Solo too?
Thing is, I can’t ever remember her doing so. Maybe you can enlighten me. Or perhaps even the 2oth century felt the need for a heroine who needed rescuing, who despite all the steel in her gaze could not do the job herself, and got herself into scrapes involving large blubbery aliens who demanded irresistibly that she dress in a bikini.
It’s flawed, scriptwriting like that. Because anyone like me, with her own personal if aged millennium falcon, knows that she will stop at nothing to outstrip the pilots around her. That character, Princess or no, would have known how to fly and to wage battle, and she would have been there, leading the assault on that old Death Star. There is simply no point in leaving it to anyone else, as and Joan of Arc, and Rosa Parkes, and Marie Curie, and Margaret Mead, knew.
History has remembered the women who took fate into their hands. If Leia had elbowed Solo out of the way and said, Here, Fool, let me drive: would movie going audiences have liked her the better for it?
Perhaps the alien-bikini plot struck the public imagination better.
Perhaps it is best that Han Solo drives.