James May on: low-profile tyres
The problem among young women these days, apparently, is the damaging influence of the fashion and modelling businesses. Faced with page after page of doe-eyed streaks of bats' urine in glossy magazines, they starve themselves into a coma so that they, too, can have the allure of a sexless teenage android.
From this, it's a small step to an eating disorder and the waste of a young life. It's a serious matter.
Now, I don't want to seem fatuous or as if I'm trivialising all this, but I see another issue here, and this time it's aesthetic. Because I'm quite modern and metrosexual these days, I realise that women don't necessarily try to look the way they do for the benefit of men, but, even so, as a lesbian tragically born into a man's body, I can't help taking an interest in these things.
I've just never been very keen on really skinny women because they don't look very friendly. Comfortable, even. They look like those chairs we had in school assembly and about as robust. I prefer women with what is sometimes termed ‘definition'; you know, the ones who look as if they've been inflated properly.
I wonder if things were better in the early Sixties, when a more fulsome type of model was fashionable. Maybe then there were complaints about women in their twenties bingeing on pies and fry-ups to increase their famine stores. What happy days they must've been.
Anyway - tyres. I'm not suggesting this is a directly related topic and yet, in a way, it is. A few days ago, I was looking at a slightly tricked-up Nissan sitting on tyres that had about as much give in them as a supermodel's elbow, and I just didn't fancy it at all. Didn't look like it would keep you warm at night.
Then, in America a few weeks ago with Jeremy, we saw a Dodge Charger (the new one) on tyres that had obviously been up vomiting all night, and that looked really uninviting. I mean, the wheels looked positively unwell. Terrible, it was.
It's been going on for years, this sort of thing, and I think it's time we cried ‘enough'. Some tyres are now so thin it's difficult to tell what they actually are. It's fashion, obviously, because really low-profile tyres are of no benefit outside of the racetrack and only make the car steer and ride badly, so it will probably pass. I think this may be about to happen, and I do hope so.
I like a phat tyre as much as the next person, but I like to think in terms of the distance between the wheel rim and the tread, rather than the width. A car wearing a decent amount of rubber isn't being swayed by fleeting trends. It's a car that looks comfy, and forgiving. It looks like it will still make me a bacon sandwich when I'm old.
Let's take the Rolls-Royce
Phantom. Now there's a car whose tyres haven't seen too many salads, and rightly so. Back when this car was launched, a man from the factory spent a long time explaining to me why the relationship between the size of the wheel and the size of the tyre was not merely important for relaxing progress - which is what a Phantom is about, after all - but actually established in the eye of the viewer the essential attributes of a Roller.
I think he was right about this. I see a Phantom, I want to climb aboard. I see an AMG Mercedes on spray-ons, and I think I'd rather just go to the pub and maybe watch a war film later on.
It's now happening in the world of motorcycling. Consider the Harley Davidson Sportster. It's a bike that's been around in one form or another for ages, but it's never quite been my sort of thing. Now, though, I am overcome with a visceral urge to mount it. Why? Because I've discovered the Forty-Eight model, which simply has smaller wheels and bigger tyres, and it looks lovely as a result. American youths call this sort of thing ‘old skool'. I call it more than a handful, and that's a result.
Thin is so mean, and so last-season. Fat is the future, and a decent depth of rubber is the way to get there. I know we supposedly have another problem with obesity, but what is that, exactly? Let's not forget that society offers
no privilege greater than the opportunity to get a bit tubby.
So let's dish up some decent depth of sidewall and remind ourselves how lucky we are. Not with me yet? Look at this picture of the Harley Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight
. Look at the boots on that baby. Wahey!