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The Vacuum Issue 8 spacer Issue 8
The Malone Ranger
Range Rover Danger
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It was just another dog-day Saturday afternoon in the pseudo-Bohemian sector of south Belfast. I was lounging on the pavement-patio of a nouveau cafe-bistro with Clive, an estate agent chum of mine, grazing on a hummus-filled ciabatta between sips of cafe con leche. "Well blow me down with a feather boa. That's Countessa Clarissa-Ann Summers in her new passion wagon," exclaimed a startled Clive, as a jet-washed Range Rover suddenly swerved off the main drag and annexed two whole parking spaces on the roadside in front of us. Pink-faced from that morning's Kama Sutra kick-boxing work-out, the feisty forty-something Clarissa flounced out of her bull-barred boulder-mobile and gamboled towards our table.
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Clive was telling me earlier that his fragrant flat-mate couldn't believe her luck when her "old" 1999 model was hot-wired by angel-faced joy-riders and later discovered burnt-out in a Kwik-Fit carpark near Comber by a couple of rookie PSNI cop-kids. Only yesterday had she made the pilgrimage to Boucher Road's bombastic 4-by-4 wheeler dealer and upgraded to this latest edition (in alarming Benetton jumper red) of the uber personnel carrier for the urban road warrior, safe in the knowledge of a sizeable insurance pay-out.
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After a swift Irish Perrier, the sparkly Clarissa insisted on taking me for a test rove out to the wilds of Hillsborough. "Gotta do the grocery run to Sprucefield. Dinner party essentials. Okay, yah?". I relented, thinking that I might escape Clive's cheesy chitchat. I had no sooner clambered aboard sporty Clarissa's utility vehicle, clunked the door, and clicked the seat-belt, when the excited driver squeezed my vulnerable right knee. "Don't you think danger is such an aphrodisiac..?" she purred before burping on the fizzy water. But with the CD player pumping Christina Aguilera, this gentleman's polite reply went unheard over a drum 'n bass breakbeat. The lady driver deftly swung the vehicle back onto the carriageway and we sped up the Lisburn Road. I resigned myself to recline in the squeaky leather upholstery and enjoy the ensuing ride as we thundered westwards along the Antrim autobahn. But by the end of track 2 of Aguilera's digital oeuvre the ride was about to get bumpy.
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"Grrrr! Let's get off-road and dirrty." yelled Clarissa as she suddenly floored the 4x4's accelerator and we tanked towards the building site entrance to a sprawling new greenfield development. "Eeeee!" she squealed louder than Christina as we zipped around a maze of dirt-tracks and dodged heavy earth-moving machinery. "Slow the hell down!" I bellowed as we narrowly missed a lumbering JCB. "Oh don't be a spoil-sport. This is such freakin weekend fun!" screamed the death-wheel damsel as we blitzed across the construction site to the shock and awe of slack-jawed Builder Bobs in yellow safety helmets. I was rather impressed by Clarissa's handling of the steel beast, but then she had impressive horsemanship from teenage years spent in jodhpurs at Ballynahinch gymkhana. Half-an-hour later she was proudly admiring the deliciously mucky exterior of her exercised Rover in Sprucefield carpark as I gallantly loaded the back-seat with bags of M&S goodies.
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"So, Mr Crash Test Dummy, does danger do it for you?" enquired a smirking Clarissa as we drove at decent speed through Stranmillis. "I think that's enough dangerous curves for one day, Clarissa. Just drop me off at the Crescent Arts Centre. I'm late for my class in Zen and the art of mmm-mmm-mmm-mmmountain-bike maintenance."
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From: The Malone Rangers' Handbook to Lisburn Road Living
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