There don’t seem to be as many bumper stickers around as there used to be, although I sometimes –specially round Bellingen or down on the coast - get stuck behind battered vehicles driven by old hippies doing their best to keep the tradition going. They don’t restrict themselves just to the bumper to display their views either; they cover the whole of the back of the car. Their rear ends are plastered so thickly with stickers that it’s unlikely anyone inside can see out the back window. Some of them – the stickers – are so ancient - they might almost be collectable by now. Hidden among the more up-to-date exhortations to buy free range eggs and go green, (usually attached to a gas-guzzling pre-catalytic convertor vehicle) you sometimes spot a Whitlam supporting ‘It’s Time’ or a Women’s Electoral Lobby ‘Coming Out Ready or Not’ slogan, left over from the 1970s. When the car’s a Peugeot or a Renault, it’s practically certain there’ll be at least one little oblong dedicated to opposing French nuclear testing in the Pacific lurking somewhere about.
But aside from hippies, most of us these days are more restrained in how we express ourselves on our vehicles. As a result, the only thing to read in the traffic at the lights is the dull information that the Subaru in front of you was serviced in North Ryde but purchased in Queensland. I think this is a pity. I miss those intense little moments of urban communication - the wearily pissed off, ‘Don’t blame me – I voted Labor’, the raging ‘Shame, Fraser, Shame,’ or the utterly Australian, ‘Eat More Meat, You Bastards’, (my all time favourite, put out on behalf of the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation in a misguided attempt to woo the vegetarian market).
And if you do see a bumper sticker these days, you’ll be lucky if it says anything half as direct. The last really popular one I can remember was ‘Magic Happens’. ‘No, it doesn’t,’ I always wanted to shout back. And about a week ago on the back of a fairly normal looking car, my eye was caught by another. ‘Got Ferrets?’ was absolutely all that it said. It gave no telephone number, there was no-one you could contact if you wanted to answer the inquiry. Were you supposed to yell your answer out the window as you hurtled past in the overtaking lane. ‘No, should I? Are they good? Are they easy? What do you have to feed them? How long do they live?’ I suppose you can’t accuse the sticker of not being thought provoking. It’s the most enigmatic thing I’ve seen in years.