Gentlemen, hide your engines
And girls, obvs, but it would spoil the headline. Sorry sisters.
A lot of people on here view the internal combustion engine in the way some Americans view the right to bear arms. It’s not just necessary, it’s a principle, and a zealously defended one.
I’m with you all, up to a point. We love our cars, but what we love most about them is that convoluted enclosure of flailing metal that gives the impression of personality, because the internal combustion engine is crammed with engaging flaws, as are we.
And so we prostrate ourselves before the piston god, swearing allegiance, for ever, and electricity is the infidel. But for how much longer?
As the poet Larkin said, I thought it would last my time, but now I’m not so sure. The way things are going, there’s a good chance that, within a decade, your V8 twin-turbo supercar engine is going to be about as welcome as a double-ended dipstick. Then what are we going to do? Strimmers and lawn mowers don’t quite hack it.
May I suggest a motorcycle? For a start, there is huge variety in bike engines: singles, parallel twins, flat twins, V-twins with pushrods that cure backache, V-twins with Desmo valves that thrash your brain, triples, fours, a few sixes, engines in line with the frame and across it – it goes on and on. Because of the way a motorcycle is connected to its user, they all offer top-quality holy communion and introduce you to endless new ways for putting a little tingle in your coccyx.
More to the point, nobody takes any notice of bikes. Most people don’t know what they are. Legislators largely ignore them, road safety evangelists ignore them, environmental activists ignore them: there are so few motorcycles compared with cars, vans, and trucks that they are statistically irrelevant, so no-one gives a toss. Good news! Keep a motorcycle tucked away somewhere and you will still be able to worship regularly, even though the institution will seem to have faded away.
‘Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made’ (John 1:3). So that must include my Honda CBR600RR. Cheers, guy in the sky with the beard by ZZ Top, because I still think it’s the fizzingest thing I’ve ever owned. It’s not an expensive toy, not compared with even a Golf Gti, let alone anything with the engine in the middle. It has but an in-line four, like a Ford Cortina, but in reality it’s properly race-bred, because the process of optimizing its valve gear and piston/cylinder dimensions began with Soichiro on the Isle of Man, long before I existed.
And when you ride it, the engine seems to be not underneath the fairing but buried somewhere deep in your bowels. It sparkles everywhere, and can be wrung out to 15,000rpm (if you have a desperate urge to express your support for the nation’s health service). It’s intoxicating, and why would you not want that?
Come to church, everyone. You will be blessed.