My driver’s licence is very useful here in Germany, because it’s the only photo ID that fits into my battered vintage Pierre Cardin wallet. Apart from this, it’s been useless for years. When you live in Berlin – or any other city where the parking fees are exorbitant and the public transport is good – owning a car is more hassle than it’s worth.

Shortly before my licence expires, I call a cheery official in New Zealand. He tells me that licences can be extended for one year after their expiry date – perfect for the indecisive. He also tells me that, after a year, I’ll need to make an appointment for an eye test. In a Ministry of Transport Office. In New Zealand. Not so perfect.

‘But I live half a world away,’ I protest. ‘Just pop in next time you’re home!’ he says cheerily, failing to realise that ‘just popping in’ for someone living in Europe will take thirty-six hours travelling and will cost a couple of thousand euro – the longest and most expensive eye-test in history.

As soon as I hang up, the phone rings again. It’s a friend of mine: Alpha Male, committed lover of fast cars. ‘I’m considering letting my driver’s licence expire,’ I say. ‘God! Don’t do that!’ he exclaims, sounding as horrified as if I’m considering shaving my head and joining a cult.

He’s called, somewhat ironically, to ask me to the glitzy launch for the new Audi sportscar. There’ll be hundreds of high-profile business people there, at the high cost of a thousand Euro per head. Will I be his plus-one?

I say Yes, in the name of Journalistic Curiosity: a pretext that’s sometimes valid, and sometimes just allows me to do out-of-character things that I don’t entirely approve of.

So there I am, on Friday night, surrounded by black suits and black sequins, in the grown-up version of Disneyland. Brimming glasses of champagne float by on trays. There are six courses of gourmet finger-food. Being more used to book readings and art openings, where the staple refreshments are warm beer and salt sticks, I’m both entranced and aghast.

After a singing, dancing, and acrobatic bonanza, the stage is cleared. Lights blaze and the star of the evening glides out into the limelight. Gleaming, black, sexy, powerful, it costs twice as much as the Berlin apartment I’m hoping to buy. In fact, looking at the top-quality padded leather seats and the tinted windows, I realise this might actually be a more comfortable place to live.

Alpha males and Alpha wives swarm around the car. I approach more cautiously, expecting it to leap like a panther through the wall and onto the Autobahn.

‘Try it out!’ urges my friend. Before I know it, the crowds are parting and I’m sitting behind the wheel of a car for the first time in years. Not just any car, but the king of the jungle. And I hate to say it but it feels fantastic. Sipping on champagne, flicking the indicators, tooting a currently silenced horn, I realise I’ll have to go Downunder and get that eye test after all.

Deutsche Version in der htr hotel revue vom 28. März 2013