IN times of adversity the human animal is inclined to look towards the stars. During a particularly bad outbreak of cat flu, for instance, the Egyptians discovered that by building a large pyramid and leaving a slit in one wall they could line up the sun and Venus to produce the world’s first ophthalmic laser.
Faced with a cataclysmic collapse of the Central American cocaine market on August 13 3114BC, the Maya Indians amused themselves by plotting the skies, drawing up the long count calendar which uses a sequence of numbers to represent dates and periods. So July 20, 1969 - the day of the first moon landing - would be written 18.104.22.168. Not a lot of people know that. Or indeed have ever wanted to.
Bringing us bang up to date with just the news we need to be distracted form the current snow shock horror commuter road chaos.
The moon is back to front.
No, really. Scientists at the Paris Institute of Earth Physics say the pattern of craters on the moon’s facing side are all as wrong as a council cycling initiative leading them to conclude that long, long ago, even before Bruce Forsythe, an asteroid struck our neighbour and flipped it through 180 degrees.
To be absolutely certain we really need to revisit the lunar landscape for a few more rocks and another witty game of weightless golf. The trouble is that those fun loving Americans are finding things too tight to mention, what with the Frankie and Benny crisis and having spent to much installing President Borat.
The truth is they can’t afford to tax the space shuttle. Leaving a gap in the market for scientists at Cambridge University who have developed a string so strong it could be harnessed to carry a space elevator. As Led Zeppelin could have sung, a kind of stair lift to heaven.
Such a development would put Britain back in the vanguard of invention but I foresee trouble with government funding unless the elevator is suitably ‘inclusive’ having a kebab dumped in it every Friday night and being regularly sprayed with distinctive human fragrances.
To the best of my knowlege Nissan does not have a celestial lift programme but there is a space issue with the new seven-seat Qashqai. As in there isn’t any for luggage with all the seats up.
In fact the Qashqai+2dCi Acenta is something of a paradox. A bulky seven seater which has only 148bhp to play with but as a two-litre diesel, develops 260lb ft of torque promising much as a vehicle for towing caravans and horse boxes off muddy fields. Except that the test car was a two-wheel drive version.
Which is deserving of a closer look.
Firstly those fold flat extra seats. Given that the Acenta will do up to 50mg they makes it a guilt-free trip to school for your own and the neighbour’s kids. But make no mistake, even though Nissan increased the car’s length, you won’t be offering the same service to football on a Saturday morning with their kit.
What then are the advantages? Well, seats folded there is more space and height than in the standard model which I always felt was something of a crossover on a hot wash.
On the road the two-wheel driver ver5sion is quick enough at 9.6 seconds to 60 and smooth with a pretty faultless six-speed gearbox. An excellent cruiser it also has a capable chassis and handles well.
We already now about the Qashqai’s high-spec and clever storage ideas, the reversing camera , safety features like ESP and brake assist along with looks improved by the extra inches.
Buy one now and you will pay £21,500. Great news when you consider that the warranty will run out just as the Maya calendar reaches its end date in 2012. The year the sky falls in.