“Father, d’ye know that car would qualify for the scrappage scheme?”
It must be the ultimate indignity when a member of the travelling community tells you that your car could be scrapped.
“It’s not going into any scrappage scheme – it’s only got 40,000 miles on the clock”.
It’s not going into the scrappage scheme, but it is emigrating. On Monday it goes off to the undulating lowlands of Somerset where its future will be gentler than tens of thousands of miles of driving through the Irish midlands.
One grows attached to cars, though this one has only been around for four years. Scouring the archives, it made a single appearance, in the summer of 2008, and not a very flattering one.
“I knew that would be a refugee’s car”.
I stirred from a half slumber. “Sorry?”
“The car behind, I knew it would be a refugee’s car”.
I looked back through the rear window; the car behind was occupied by an African family. The comment was probably a fair one. Africans were rare until recent years. In fact, any nationality apart from Irish was rare until recent years.
I slumped back into the seat. “What do you mean, a refugee’s car?”
“It’s a double zero Almera. It’s the sort of car you can pick up cheap”.
“I drive a double zero Almera and it’s that shade of blue. Actually, apart from the number plate, my car is identical to that one”.
There was silence.
I pondered my car.
It was cheap.
I bought it for €6,000 cash (equivalent at the time to £4,000). It was six years old, but had only 21,000 miles on the clock. I like it. I don’t worry about it being stolen or scraped. It plays Lyric FM and Radio 4 and gets me around. It passed the NCT last month by a wide margin
There was a moment of curiosity. Did people wonder why I drove around in what would pass as ‘a refugee’s car’? Would I be asked to park it at the back, if I belonged to a golf club?
The curiosity passed in a moment – the car would be passed off as just another Protestant eccentricity.
Why did I have a double zero Almera, though?
Then I remembered. I was going on holiday next week, and had been last month, and had been in January. There was a choice between buying a car and giving all your expenses to a garage, or not buying a car and keeping your expenses for doing things (after the Revenue Commissioners had skimmed off their share).
“Alpbach” I said.
“A double zero Almera pays for skiing in Alpbach”.
Not only does it pay for going to Alpbach, it also reduces carbon emissions. The carbon produced in producing a new car exceeds the carbon emissions of an old car on the road. I would remember that next time someone said about it being an old car – it could be presented as an ethical choice.
I’ll leave out the bit about Alpbach.
Maybe I should take my ski helmet with me for the journey; just as a reminder of what it has made possible.