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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog - Silence at night, or a bump in the dark? (Drivetalk)

Personal note: For the record, I find this man's writing to have a negative tone, overall - kinda the way I see Bill Bryson to be too negative for my liking - but I have included his posts here as they do lend another perspective to the quake and its aftermath.

Silence at night, or a bump in the dark?

Last updated 09:38 08/03/2011
If you've a lowered car with no springs and low-profiled tyres stretched around 22-inch rims, you'll know what constraints the earthquake has put on your driving.

If the liquefaction hasn't been sucked over your front-splitter or your tyres skipped messily through the shallow ponds in nearly every street in some parts of Christchurch, then it's just possible that your deftly painted fibreglass skirts have been shattered, having failed to quite make it over the quake-popped mid-carriageway road-zits we used to call manholes.

It probably explains why in my street and scores of others around Christchurch there has been a decided stillness in the evenings since February 22.

At first I thought it was because we were all being quiet and respectful. Then I realised that it was a particular set of mechanical noises that was missing.

Like the insipid blahh of four-cylinder engines under stress; the sneeze-cough of turbocharger wastegates, and the bump-thump! bump-thump! bump-thump! bump-thump! of maxed-out graphic equaliser bass sliders; and that squealing-pig-like, hackle-raising sound of cheap tyres being burnt out over deliberately spilled bleach.

I haven't heard it in a fortnight now, and I know it's the one single thing that I can thank our nasty, life-threatening earthquakes for. They appear to have taken the so-called cruisers off the road.

Simply, it's now not possible to achieve anything like an entertaining speed on most of our thoroughfares in cars designed - or should I say crudely cobbled together - to ride low and produce smoke and noise on the street.

And judging by the small piles of glass-fibre shards and the now severely truncated half-pie stripes - versions of what used to be 50-metre-long tyre prints - some plonkers did have a go.

I'm selfishly hoping that we won't be able to fully repair our road surfaces perfectly, in fact I'd almost insist that we don't.

Something that's even-surfaced enough to allow standard cars to go their merry ordinary way would be nice, But sufficiently lumpy and treacherous to catch lowered or stupidly fettled big-piped cars and put them into silence. If only that were possible.

Yes, that would be why it has seemed so quiet at night recently. Instead of every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night being punctuated by skids, squeals and howls (and you want to hear the cars!), I've been actually getting some sleep.

Until the aftershocks wake me, that is. And even then, knowing that they keep the boyracers coming out calms me down again. Funny that.

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