Sometimes you’re driving down the road and big fuckin stone cracks your windscreen. But it’s ok, cos the insurance will cover that. Sure didn’t I do that before? Your man came out especially and changed it in Val’s car park in Athlone on a Tuesday morning. Didn’t cost a cent, free, covered, standard, normal, we love stones in insurance companies, the way they hop off the roads, keeps us all busy, kept going, how’s Val getting on, sure isn’t great?

            And here comes the NCT. People say prayers for you when you’re going for the NCT. Normally I’d need them, and maybe even a mass, or a visit from the pope, but today felt alright in the unbreakable Ford Focus. Brought her to Corrib Oil for a fast wash. Usually there’s a queue of lads in impossibly priced cars reading phones and waiting for the Polish lads to do the fancy waxy waxy and make the money wheels go shiny shiny. But no line today. Cost of living, time of day, something. Parked her up over the big grate for the running water, said give it a blast lads. Went to the shop to get cash, talked to a woman at the door about life, the rain, and The Guggenheim Grotto. Then the car was ready and it was time to go. I hadn’t been to Westport in a while so I asked the oul fella, how long do you think it will take to get there?

            He thought, said: ‘Almost the same as Castlebar and a bit with it….’

            Irish estimations. You have to love them.  We sat in and he asked: ‘What happened the windscreen?’


            ‘What kinda stone?’

            ‘Dunno, from a truck on the M50.’

            ‘Well fuck.’

            ‘Probably be grand. Sure the insurance’ll cover it….’


            We took off, around the town, down High Street, sailing along. The wide Castlebar road. The tight corner at Keel Bridge. Took a left at Partry and followed the winding roads. The crack seemed to grow all the time, like solar powered misfortune. We got there on time to be twenty minutes early. Parked up, waited. A Mondeo in for a retest. A Volkswagen with no tracking, an Insignia for sale outside. They called in the Focus, ran her through, came back and said the car was perfect except for the windscreen.

            Not the end of the world. The insurance will cover it. Everyone knows it’s standard on the insurance. I’ll just ring them up and they’ll come to the house and change it and it’ll be all free, and easy, and simple, and standard. So I rang them, casual, easy going, friendly, assumptive. The girl on the phone was nice, helpful, calm and efficient. I was looking at the wall, thinking about something else, when she said, actually no, that’s not covered. We removed it at renewal. You have to specifically request it anymore. Sorry about that.


            I asked around for advice. One fella said I could try and fix it but the crack was bigger than a 2 euro coin so that was out. Another lad suggested I change the number plates with some other car and try swing something like that and most official places wanted somewhere between 200 and 300 euro to replace it. Then the apple windscreen fell on my head and I was inspired by a ground breaking idea.

            I rang the insurance back, innocent, inquisitive, vaguely confused, like an Irishman in New York, pretending he can build skyscrapers. I’d swear twas the same girl that answered when I said: ‘Just wondering, eh… can I add windscreen cover to my policy…?’

            No, Michael, she said. No.

Well fuck.



Misty taste of Moonshine….

Here was the dealer stood at the gate, after him paying me €200 to take the haype of shite of a Peugeot away, now he’s going selling me a new yoke. By all accounts it was a reliable wagon, NCT and taxed with good tyres, electric windows that worked and it even had the added bonus of a dashboard. Like, you could see things like: how fast you’re going, if the indicator is on; or if it’s overheating and the engine is about to explode or is contaminated with weedkiller. All benefits, features and perks, that were noticeably absent in the Peugeot. We took it for a spin. The oul fella said: ‘Even the lights work on this one…’ and he was right. Fulls and everything. Another tick on the gem spectrum. Plus, the car had come directly to the door. There was no country road spins to bumpy car parks to horse deal in the rain about well washed scrap with Flintstones fanatics. Hard to bate it. 1.4 petrol. “…easy on juice…” and high spec for the year (15 years ago.)  

            We brought it back. Let cars go by in traffic, watch us looking at it. Clouds floated above us, people walking dogs, trees swaying lightly in the breeze. There was two keys that weren’t keys. They were some kind of sensor, activator, important pieces of black plastic with a watch battery. The real key was in the ignition and never left, but the car wouldn’t start unless you had one of the two independent keys with you. Like I said, high spec. With a dashboard. It was time to talk about money. Permutations sang in the whistling wind, monetary fairies haggled in the heavens while the real business was delayed through silence and looking at the footpath while we waited for the moment to begin. Eventually he gave a figure that was too high, and I gave a figure that was too low, and we met in the middle with the figure we all knew was probably right. Then it was logbook o’clock and he wasn’t great at writing so he asked me to fill it out while we all sat in the house. He counted the money while I did the admin. No PCP mountain of paperwork here. Just a calm old school logbook and a tenner back for luck and off ya go. A new journey in a new wagon. No distant dreary towns that smelled like oil and rubber and emigration and listening for rattles and bangs the whole way home and the ghosts of the famine laughing at you over the country walls. There was she was, already in the drive. A Ford Focus with two sorta keys and a right one inside and even a drop of petrol and a bottle of Holy Water in the glovebox. At first, I thought it was the passenger door trying to fall off but no, eventually found it, a plastic bottle of blessed lovely usice banging off the hollow plastic like a suitcase on a plane in an empty luggage compartment. Surely I must be in good hands now, might even use it some day when stuck for petrol. She’ll probably go forever on that stuff. Lot better than the fuckin Roundup anyway.

Yoda in the Skoda

There was a Mondeo in Bellmullet. Test, no tax, “….she won’t need much….” after that it was all Ballina, Ballycastle and Castlebar. Passats, Hondas and heaps of Insignias. There was Insignias everywhere. All washed, looking good, but dead inside. “Engine light on, not sure, probably just a sensor…” which is Chinese for that oil seal yoke that blows the engine that everyone suddenly knows about and is dying to tell you only after you buy it. Been there, done that, burnt the fuckin t-shirt. One lad had a Skoda for sale but had no keys. The car was locked but you could look in the side window and if you liked what you saw you could tow it away. No tax, test, and no logbook “…hence the price…” 

On went the dream. A Kia in Limerick. A Tuscon in Crossmolina. Cars in the North at crazy cheap prices til you add the VRT and the wonderful Nox. An Avensis in Headford. A Focus in Roscommon.  Lads offering PCP. Sure PCP is easy. Almost certain to get it. Here’s one now, a nice 1 litre, affordable, reliable, guaranteed. Call today, drive away. Yours by lunch, no credit crunch. Take the wheel, enjoy the steal. Want to go far, then buy this car. Sure that’ll do, time to get out of the dregs, into the big leagues, shiny at the football pitch with the child, big shtuff. Here we went, just a case of picking it up. There was breeze, a bruised sky, and an uncertain salesman. Yeah, them deals were a while ago, where’d you read that?  

– Internet. 

-Oh right. See. Well. Let’s try.  

We tried. There was paperwork. Questions. More questions. Questions about questions. Bit like giving blood. Then there was forms. Beloved forms. Upload this, scan that, make sure it’s this date and from these places only. Now we’ll think about it. Hit submit and we’ll be back within 48 to 72 hours and we might need more. Depends on if you fucked it up. No car today, no steal of a deal or fancy wheels making lunch time reels around shiny new leather roundabouts of long term debt and wonderful guarantees of reliable travel. 

Back to Donedeal. Even the Skoda with no keys was gone by now.  

The phone rang, then. The dealer that bought the Peugeot. Christ, Jesus, why’s he ringing me? Didn’t I tell him it didn’t work? He was hardly wondering about the weedkiller in the engine? 

I answered with a tentative, hello? Like I wasn’t sure who it was. Casual, innocent, blameless in this whole mess.  

He didn’t buy it, asked: ‘Have you got a new car yet?  


‘Are you still lookin for somethin? I met your oul fella downtown. He said you were lookin…’ 

‘I….am. Well, just waiting on a PCP….’ 

‘I have a yoke here for ya.’ 

‘Oh yeah?’ 

‘Yeah, two months test, tax, and in good shape. I’ll call around and show to ya.’ 


‘Are you at the house?’ 


‘Sound….I’ll be outside in two minutes.’ 

And he was.