True Gripes: Dark thoughts: Seeing red at tinted car windows

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The Independent Online
What on earth possesses people to black out their car windows?

The streets of London are now full of vehicles with heavily smoked glass, all looking as if they have just been driven through a particularly fierce fire.

I can understand the need for it in stretch limousines hiding famous teenage pop stars or senior foreign dignitaries on clandestine visits, but tinted windows on a V-reg Ford Fiesta - please] All they seem to be hiding are the fluffy dice, the bucket seats and the prat at the wheel.

There's a battered dark green Rover parked in my street (straight from the television set of The Sweeney) with just its back windscreen painted in. Through every other pane of glass you can see the interior (grey leather) perfectly clearly, so what purpose does this have, I ask the trees every morning as I walk to work?

I deliberately pause now, when passing any car with smoked windows, and make a point of peering in and showing disgust by curling my top lip, or scorn by uttering a derisory laugh.

It's probably exactly what the occupants want me to do and it doubtless fuels their egos even more, but I can't help it. I feel a great need to make a stand and try to discredit this latest 20th century fad.

Who do they think they are, and what makes them imagine they are so important that mere mortals like you and me are forbidden to see inside their machines?

This habit makes wearers of the shellsuit look like they've stepped from the pages of Vogue.

It's amazing how many small men I see emerge sheepishly from behind these blackened windows, pulling themselves up to their full height and puffing out their chests - all part of the image, mate.

They're so hideously tacky, they make me seethe.

Why don't they step back and take a look at themselves once in a while? Why don't they take stock of the sad little lives they must lead to have to resort to fitting tinted glass in their passion wagons?

But, aesthetics aside, there is also a serious side to my beef. This country is far too secretive as it is, without our resident boy racers hiding their spotty mugs behind threatening black glass.

Comradeship and brotherly love seem to have long left the high street, to be replaced by anxiety and selfishness. The last thing we need is more fear or more intimidation in our city, so let's have nice clear glass so we can all see the face of the driver who has just cut in front of us on the North Circular.

You can keep your Fat Willy's Surf Shack stickers and your alloy wheel trims, but lose the tinted windows, before someone less tolerant than me loses them for you.