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The Lighter Side Last Updated: Feb 13th, 2009 - 02:37:44

Skoda: Car of the ordinary citizen
By Paul O�Sullivan
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Feb 13, 2009, 00:14

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I don�t give a s#%t what Jeremy Clarkson says . . .

Last September I bought a 1.3 litre, chain driven (substitution for a fan-belt), ten-year old Skoda from a Romanian IT employee who pronounced his name as �Knee-high.� The entire transaction was highly satisfactory. Two separate visits to the car-park of a retail park, one bid for �250 less than advertised and a no-nonsense transfer of ownership papers.

A Skoda appealed more than other second-hand vehicles in the same price range advertised on Outside, rain spat against the window while I inspected a photograph of the red Fabia on the website.

I remembered the rainy summer Sunday afternoon eight years before, waiting beneath the partial shelter of an overhanging hedge for a return tram to Prague city centre, watching dishevelled-looking workers leave a Skoda factory. For a na�ve leftie political idealist the sight was inspirational, perhaps like a smoggy London might have been for Turner. Of course, Turner made much more effective use of his inspirations.

Five months on, the latest in a string of second-hand cars is ever more rewarding. Serious mechanical failure has not occurred, not even a seemingly mandatory hole in the exhaust. I�ve begun to notice every other Skoda on the road, occasionally saluting their driver�s, the way some people do when they�ve fallen for their motor. I am on the brink of joining the Skoda Club Ireland, which for me would prove that man has absolutely no control of his senses.

When I glance at the face of another Skoda driver, a gentle wave of relief washes over me. Generally, they appear informed, decent people who appreciate reliability, value for money and possessing enough common sense to rise above stereotypes; the kind of people who wouldn�t pay for houses at over-inflated prices generated by an economic bubble, or get sucked into corporate generated lifestyles.

To me, they appear as people who work hard and thoroughly, always live within their means and spend wisely. In the saloon classes -- Octavia, Roomster, Superb -- the executives and managers who value their personal or family life just as highly as their career position.

Last Friday, I was delighted to have my ridiculous notion partly affirmed by an encounter in the underground car-park of the apartment complex I reside in. A suited man in his early 40s parked his Octavia two spaces down from me. He looked week weary.

�Thank Crunchie,� I said.

�Tell me about it,� he replied.

A Mercedes Coupe driven by a blonde woman rolled down the ramp. Its brakes screeched as she stopped suddenly to reverse into a space. The guy and I fell into each other�s stride, introduced ourselves and quizzed each other about our residential record in the complex. Turns out we live in the same block.

�Doing much for the evening?� I asked.

�Nope. My daughter�s a little under the weather. Staying in with the missus, might get a take-away.�

The lady, executively dressed, got out of her car and locked it remotely. She was talking on her pink flip-mobile, ranting derogatorily about a colleague or senior. She walked ahead of us up the ramp, talking about half a bottle of vodka and a well-known expensive city nightclub with a strict door policy.

The guy and I parted ways at the block�s letter boxes just inside the front door. It occurred to me to mention our car manufacturer, but I refrained. Some people find that kind of thing idiotic.

A guy goes into his local garage. �Do you have a windscreen wiper for my Skoda?� he asks. �Sounds like a fair swap� replied the mechanic.

Paul O�Sullivan resides in Ireland.

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