Thursday 18 December 2008

Joe le Taxi

I took a taxi into town to meet some friends for a few drinks last Thursday.

(is it just me or does anybody else suffer from an overwhelming urge to snootily declare "Home James, and don't spare the horses" when entering a taxi?).

The driver seemed like a genial enough fellow. In his mid to late 50's, he had the accent and the slow, relaxed manner of a man with a strong rural background. The type of man who has his dinner in the middle of the day, pronounces the letter 'u' in the word film and whose car runs on a special breed of domesticated reptiles (pet-turtle).

On passing through a junction where a ruddy cheeked, fresh faced Templemore graduate stood on Operation Freeflow duty, more concerned with claping his hands and stamping his feet to stay warm than actually ensuring the traffic flowed smoothly, I innocently asked a question that resulted in 15 of the strangest minutes of my life.

"Do you think the guards make the traffic any better?"

"Ah they do yeah.... though a lot of the time its worse"


"What do you think of Operation Freeflow yourself?"

"Well, I drive a motorbike during the day so I don't really notice"

For some reason, he took this as an invitation to chatter inanely about vintage cars. Except he didn't call them vintage cars - he called them veteranage cars. The first time I simply assumed I had mishead him but soon I was in no doubt. He was definitely saying veteranage.

For the next 15 minutes he crammed the word into the conversation more times than one would think possible. Certainly more than was strictly necessary. It was quite clear that we (or rather he) was talking about vintage cars - yet he still felt the need to qualify, just in case there was any doubt, that he was referring specifically to vintage cars. Or veteranage cars if you will.

He told me how he was a big fan of veteranage cars, how his family and friends were all veteranage car enthusiasts and how he loved spending his Sunday afternoons on veteranage car runs.

To underline his love of veteranage cars, he proudly informed me he is a member of the Irish Veteranage Motoring Association.

"You know", I thought "I think you'll find it's the Irish Vintage Motoring Association. I know that AND I'M NOT EVEN A MEMBER".

Finally, he told me about some American veteranage car dealers who, through the Irish Veteranage Motoring Association, were put in touch with a veteranage car loving friend of his. His friend, he assured me has an extensive collection of veteranage cars which he keeps in what, according to his description, resembles a small aeroplane hanger.

Well, when the veteranage car dealers saw his veteranage car loving friend's collection of veteranage cars they were so impressed they offered €10 million to buy them on the spot.

"€10 million" I said, trying to sound sufficiently impressed, "they must be pristine.

"No", he replied "they're his".