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The Mercury Cars Guide : April 24th 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010 Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au ---11 Jean's drive down memory lane PASSSION FOR CARS: Jean Kittsonrecalls a lot of great times spent in cars. Comedian Jean Kittson's father was a keen car enthusiast and he ignited her life-long love of cars. Monique Butterworth reports cars C OMEDIAN and writer Jean Kitt- son has fond mem- ories of a very dif- ferent era in motoring. From her seat-belt-free child- hood to the drink'n'drive panel vans of friends in her teens, its perhaps a wonder she survived at all. But Jean, who learned to drive from her racing-car driv- ing father, is now passing on his wisdom to her own chil- dren and marvelling at how her own driving style has changed since hitting meno- pause. As the ambassador for Re- mifemin, a natural meno- pausal relief product, Jean is keen to come out of the meno- pause closet and admit to the world her car has air- conditioning, and she is not afraid to use it. ''My Dad had a BMC dealer- ship and he loved English cars,'' Jean says. ''We always had Minis, Jag- uars, Rovers, Morris and Wol- seleys and, of course, they were always breaking down. ''We were always in different cars. Dad was always trading. ''He used to build his own cars and soup-up his own cars. ''One of the first monologues I ever did was called Blue Vinyl and it was about my relation- ship with cars. ''It was performed as part of a Melbourne Fringe Festival, which was in a carpark. ''Cars have been a strong element of my life. When I was a baby, the only thing that apparently soothed me was putting me in a blanket, bun- dling me into the car and driving me around Christmas Hill, near Lilydale in Victoria, where I was born. ''I still find cars incredibly soothing. I adore driving. As soonasIgetinthecarIrelax immediately. ''My Dad taught us all how to drive like racing car drivers. ''We were driving from the age of 12. By then we were living in Sorrento with lots of backroads and he would say things like 'your brakes have gone, pull up using the clutch!'. ''He would know our brakes could break because, being the daughter of a mechanic, our cars always had wonky bra- kes! ''I remember I lost my li- cence two weeks after I got it because I didn't actually re- alise there were speed limits. ''Dad never mentioned the speed limit. I never remember clocking a speed limit. ''I was doing 60 miles an hourina35milezone.SoI learnt the hard way. I lost my licence immediately. ''Dad was a bit of a leadfoot but he was a very safe driver. ''When we were kids he would soup-up' Mini Cooper Ss and he'd do hillclimbs around Lilydale. ''When it was a wet track, he would put us kids in the car for weight. ''Those were the days when there were no seatbelts and your mothers arm would swing out like a boom gate every time she'd brake to stop kids flying through the wind- screen. We'd stand on the seat next to Mum. ''There's a reason they call it a dashboard because you kept dashing your brains on it all the time. ''Mum also remembers just putting the bassinet on the back seat and every time she braked the bassinet would be upside down on the back floor. ''That's how everyone got around. The roads weren't really dressed for safety or reckless drivers. ''There were no barriers and signs telling you a danger- ous corner was coming up. ''Consequently, after mov- ing to Sorrento and spending my teens there because there was nothing to do in the winter down there, everyone used to drink and drive --- that's all we did --- so we lost lots of kids. ''There were also a lot of panel vans with kids all in the back, so over it would roll. ''My God, it was such a dangerous time. But it was also a good time because we had drive-ins with one driver going in and the rest of us hiding in the back of the Sandman. ''My first car was a Wolseley 24-80. It had fins and was built like a tank but the brakes were hopeless. ''I remember once someone took a corner too quickly and drifted onto the wrong side of the road out near Tremarne and clipped a whole lots of cars. Bang, bang, bang! ''It wrote them off but by the timeitgottomeinmyold Wolseley, the other car was a mangled mess. I just had a little dent in the door. ''I've always liked the drive between Melbourne and Syd- ney.IalsodotheF3alot because I married a Sydney- sider and my parents live on the Central Coast in NSW. ''We go up there quite regu- larly. My children and I have our favourite chicken shop to stop at on the way. ''We put Harry Potter on and off we go. I love car trips. ''I will happily drive with the appropriate driver/ re- viver stops for 12 hours. ''Music when the kids are in the car is Nova at full blast. ''I like to catch up with the news or 2WS FM with Aman- da and Jonesy Classic Hits. ''When I'm on my own I like to listen to classical music, so I can think of things to write. ''When we get out of radio range we'll whack a CD on --- I love talking books. ''The kids go a bit mad but they've got their own iPods. ''I love travelling with my kids because they're captive. ''They can't go off saying 'Oh, I've just got to make a phone call' or 'my friend is here I've got to go'. ''So we actually have conver- sations --- they're forced to talk to me and listen. We also do a lot of car dancing. ''The way my driving has changed over the years is once you have kids you're much more cautious. ''And they grow up and they'll tell you if you take your hand off the wheel. ''I've done the whole '150 hours of teaching' and I adored it. I absolutely loved sitting there doing that with my teenage daughter. I passed on lots of stuff my dad taught me. ''My teenage daughter is in- credibly confident and that is really important. Not over- confident. Just confident, alert but not alarmed. ''Driving can be an absolute joy. A car is a machine taking you places in your own little bubble --- it's wonderful. ''I'm really relaxed about the car. People can put their feet on the seats if they want. It's a relaxed, fun place. ''The other way my driving has changed is the tempera- ture. Now my body tempera- ture is contributing to climate change with menopause, I'll ask the kids 'Are you hot?' and they'll say 'No mum!'. ''They're constantly asking me to turn the air-conditioning down they're freezing. ''I used to battle them about turning the music down now they're battling me about turn- ing the air-conditioning down!
April 17th 2010
May 1st 2010