When I chose my home computer two and a half years ago, I ignored all the advertised features except for two things - the amount of memory and the price. I wasn't buying a gaming machine, so the graphics card, processor power, etc, didn't matter. After all, I wasn't going to do much more than surf the web, right?
A few weeks ago I installed SuperTuxKart on my machine. This is a 3D racing game starring Tux (everyone's favourite penguin) and friends. The last racing game I played was Pole Position in the 80s, and clearly things have moved on a little. Instead of just having a rather flat track in front of you, you can drive all over the place (although you usually fall off something and have to be rescued if you stray too far), and there are different road surfaces, hills, and so on.
In addition to driving faster and better than your opponents, you can do things like firing rockets at them, or ram them off the road. It's all great fun, and now when Helena comes for the weekend she is eager to play it. Especially since she's now better at it than I am.
I'm sure, though, that to really appreciate it, you have to drive for real. Being able to cut corners, drive dangerously fast, ram other vehicles, and even better to fire rockets off must be every driver's fantasy, especially if no-one ever gets hurt.
A small number of people get closer to making this fantasy a reality. A few years ago the army sold off some of their old tanks, and they were bought by enthusiasts, at least one of whom was the subject of newspaper articles, as he drove to and from work in his. Unfortunately the military had deactivated the gun, but he still found other drivers were strangely reluctant to argue about who had priority at roundabouts.
My car is over six years old now, so I'm wondering whether I should trade it in for something a bit more warlike.
The main problem with a tank, other than finding a place to park (though they wouldn't be able to clamp you), is that it doesn't exactly get up to SuperTuxKart speeds. And I dont' expect they run to air conditioning or comfy seats, though you wouldn't need to worry about where to put your CD changer - you could probably fit a juke box in the thing. Whether or not you'd be able to hear it above the engines is another matter.
And what do you do about refuelling? I don't imagine you'd manage to get it anywhere near a forecourt petrol pump. The car wash would also be out of bouds, but I don't believe in washing cars. That's what rain's for.
Another option is a Harrier. It's vertical take off and landing means that you don't have to worry about replacing your driveway with a 3-mile runway, they boast an impressive range of weapons and a top speed of 700mph. Sadly, though, the air doesn't get very congested during rush hour, so there are very few other drivers to ram. In addition, I've just checked my driving licence, and although I'm legally able to drive a small road roller, there doesn't appear to be any mention of a Jump-Jet.
So it looks like I'll have to keep the Skoda for now. I was a little concerned with the lack of firepower, but last night I installed a newer version of SuperTuxKart on my machine. And stayed up till 2 in the morning playing it. They've replaced the missiles with exploding cakes. This is excellent news, since I'll be able to chuck those out of my car window. I'm just off to the bakers across the road to place an order...