Top Gear 2008

Volvo V70 SE

For most of us turning 50 is a very challenging time in life. By then you’re so immersed in your mid-life crisis that you can’t face getting older and you start to forget what it was ever like to be young. You realize that you might never get to visit Iceland and race a motorized kayak like Richard Hammond.

Suddenly your serum lipids and PSA are important numbers that you remember whilst it’s getting even harder to recall phone numbers and anniversaries. Aches and pains that used to go away overnight are still lingering on a week later and you can’t see a thing without your glasses. And you get to know your own doctor even more intimately when it’s time to check the consistency of that small gland.

As I’m about to notch up my half century I’m even more desperate to re-live my youth and I’m always on the lookout for something frivolous. So, the decision to roll out the Top Gear franchise in Australia caught my eye. After all what could be better than knocking around with your two best mates, driving exotic cars and getting paid to boot.

So like at least 10,000 other ever hopefuls I’ve sent off my application to be a compere on the Australian version of Top Gear. Things all begin by downloading the application form and answering a few simple questions. This wasn’t too painful at all and anyone will know that the British trio aren’t Nobel laureates either.

I was stumped at first by the question about previous motor racing experience and I’m not a holder of any CAMS licences. But I thought that years of experience with Scalextric would suffice and a motor racing licence wasn’t essential for the application anyway. My partner didn’t think I’d have any trouble at all being opinionated and besides they’re paid to be like that on television.

The really difficult stuff started with Part B which is all about making a ten minute video.

Print journalists all know that it is perfectly possible to bash the typewriter late at night in one’s pyjamas and that inspiration can come from staring blankly at the screen. But a video would require filming, pictures and the nurses in my ward even offered to do my make-up.

The brief was simple. All I had to do was make a ten minute film highlighting my “unique talents”. For inspiration I decided to do a presentation on the joys of driving an old Volvo.

All was well until the camera started rolling and my mind suddenly seized up and panic set in. I had flashbacks of vivas in my student days and being asked to go back and feel the pulse again. My autonomic response was not dissimilar to the effects of ECT with an acute surge of vagal activity leaving me feeling hoarse and clearing my throat and then a massive surge of sympathetic outflow sending my heart racing.

Miraculously, I would regain my composure as soon as the camera stopped. But every time the little red light blinked at me I felt another absence coming on.

Though there is a large body of scientific evidence that highlights the dangers of trying to drive whilst talking on the phone and texting, I’m sure that driving whilst being video-taped must be just as dangerous.

And whilst all of this was going on I was reminded by my teenage cinematographer not to forget to say something funny as the ability to inject humour into the presentation would have a large bearing on whether you reached the next phase of the selection process which I was convinced involved a gloved hand and some KY jelly.

Safe motoring,
Dr Clive Fraser

For: A solid family wagon with the option of 7 seats.

Against: Newer versions have a 5 speed auto and are more refined.

This car would suit: Doctors who love Volvos.

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    Medical Motoring is an online record of the articles written by Dr Clive Fraser and published in the Australian Medicine magazine by the Australian Medical Association.