Thursday, 30 April 2009
Without a shadow of a doubt, the saddest event of 2009 (for The Hoge at least) occurred last week. I've only summoned up the resolve to write about it now and even still, I can't promise that I won't be wailing like a banshee by the end.
This is Lance. On the surface he may seem like a pretty average nine-year-old Mitsubishi Lancer with undersized, paint-chipped alloys.
But to me, my first car was a chariot of liberation.
After saving for the whole summer of 2006 and still not having enough money to buy a car, I begged my father to accompany me to an auction in Newbridge and provide the necessary financial clout to get a half decent motor.
Only after I assured him that Christmas and birthdays would no longer apply to me did Mr Hoge agree to the trip and stump up for half the price.
Upon arriving at the auction, we surveyed the array of Garda cars, reclaimed vehicles and 'quick sells' from dealerships around the country that would go under the hammer that day. A few possible purchases were identified but Lance wasn't one of them. We hadn't spotted him among the crowd due to his understated, classic beauty.
As the auction unfolded, each one of the cars we had earmarked climbed up to prices out of the range we had agreed upon on the way up from Limerick. My heart crumbled when the last one we had noted was swept out of my hands. I would be going home in the passenger seat of my father's car, the same way I arrived.
And then; my first ever car came into the auction showroom. Lance didn't turn too many heads at first but mine did a positive 360 around the top of my spine.
"We're getting that one dad."
"I don't know, we didn't even look at that, it could fall apart on the way home."
"NO! It's perfect, we'll get that one."
After a bidding war with a young couple who had also spotted the potential in the dirty Lancer, we took it home for €2,300. There was no radio in the car when we bought it, but who the bloody hell needs one when you're singing triumphantly all the way home?
Having Lance meant no more asking my parents for lifts or paying to get on a smelly bus, not to mention the end of kissing the arse of passing acquaintances in exchange for a lift. Now mine was the squeaky clean arse as a result of all the kisses it was enjoying on a daily basis.
Over the next three years, not a peep, not so much as an unwelcome puff of smoke eminated from under Lance's bonnet. And this despite my initially less than diligent approach to caring for the car.
On more than one (on more than ten being honest about it) occasions, Lance also served as a bed to me and several of my pals - when laziness or being broke meant that more traditional accommodation arrangements weren't an option.
I still remember waking up in the passenger seat in a car park in Lahinch one morning, looking out at the beautiful sea and thinking; 'You can shove your hostel up your arse'.
And now he's gone. Plane tickets to Canada don't come cheap so I sold Lance to a young fella from Kerry who also spotted the Lancer's potential only a day after I put it up for sale on Carzone.
It was his first car too and he had the same look of delirious excitement in his eyes when I handed him the keys.
Of course when I sold Lance to the young fella, a radio had by now been installed. But I'm almost certain I could hear the new owner singing triumphantly to himself as he pulled my beloved first car out of my driveway for the very last time.