Wednesday, May 26, 2004


...what a man hasn't got the faintest idea how to, one's confidence is likely to take somewhat of a nosedive.

Is there anything more guaranteed to make a man feel totally inadequate than walking into a car showroom? Yup, I'm trading it in ferra younger model.

Apart from buying a house, a car is probably the major financial commitment in most people's lives. At least with a house you can actually inspect the damn thing, walk round, get a feel of the place and even the most inexpert can usually tell if the thing is structurally sound and what needs doing to it.

A car on the other hand...well. A paint job can hide a multitude of sins and as to what to look for under the bonnet...might as well show me a text of Sanskrit and ask me to summarise the main points in Cyrillic. So that rather rules out a private buy...even if I do know a mechanic who would check it over for me, I don't want to load all the responsibility onto his shoulders should it turn out that I have bought a turkey.

So, that rather points me in the direction of the showroom. However, despite my scepticism regarding the honesty of politicians (certain hard-working local councillors and Robin Cook excepted, of course) there is one breed whom I trust even less. The second hand car salesman. This tended to push me towards considering buying new.

Now, it so happens that an acquaintance of mine who used to work at the oil company to which my company was contracted as English Language Consultants is now the boss of the Skoda franchise in town. I paid his showroom a visit yesterday and had a rather unexpected experience. I talked to one of the salespersons there and the sum total of his efforts was to hand me a price list. There was I expecting the hard sell and suddenly I was faced with the prospect of a difficult buy.

Silently, and for the nth time since I have been here, I told myself, "This is Hungary, Simon" and headed out. I decided to cut out the middle man, and try and avail myself of a little slice of 'protekcio' by calling up the boss.

Thus it is that I have an appointment at the showroom at 2.30 this afternoon when he will personally conduct me on a guided tour of all the goodies he has to offer automobile wise.

At present, I'm rather leaning towards a Skoda Octavia Turbo Diesel Estate...same engine as the Passat and built on a Golf chassis, I believe.

Anyway, my biggest decision now concerns what to wear. I think I shall plump for the biggest pair of 'fuck off' boots in my wardrobe. I've got a whole lot of tyres to kick.

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