Buying cars rather than attending the TUV conference: a confession

I do not do humour often (I am in the TUV) but here goes:

The TUV conference was on Saturday and I am afraid I was not there. However, this was in no way due to my falling out with the TUV, but rather due to a minor family drama.

Our cars have been named by our children after Thomas the Tank engine trains. Gordon, the family estate car has done over 200,000 miles (Emily, the smaller car is little better). Originally Gordon was a BMW: however, I suspect the Bavarians who manufactured him are all now retired and quite possibly have died of old age. Unfortunately on Thursday and Friday Gordon started making very odd noises. To be fair he had been making noises for more than a year: a sort of thudding noise on acceleration. This noise had not, however, been a major issue: the turbocharger on the diesel seemed to have given up working a few years ago rendering acceleration a relative concept and as such this odd noise was rarely apparent. There were problems going up hills and going onto the ramp at the ferry but I had produced a number of Baldrick-esque cunning plans which had solved these minor irritations.

The new noise was more worrying and seemed pretty constant. I decided to ask my father who knows everything about cars and is just as pathologically mean when it comes to spending money on them. This conversation went somewhat as follows:

Me: Dad there are strange noises coming from the back of the car on acceleration and indeed all the time.

Dad: It is the half shaft (Dad may as well have been speaking Welsh).

Dad then advised: sell the car and buy another one. From my father this is as surprising as the pope saying become an Orangeman: my father just does not do spending money, least of all on cars.

Much as I respect my father I was obviously going to ignore this information. The car was still going (sort of) and I had a TUV meeting to attend. However, Elenwe also spoke to Dad. This resulted in something of a family disagreement centring on the necessity of buying a new car immediately; the non necessity of the TUV conference and assorted dire consequences of me not buying a new car.

I had the cold and did not intend to speak at the conference and was weakening a bit under the combined pressure of assorted relatives (my mother joined in as well). Furthermore since I am the main driver of Gordon I was a little concerned about sitting at the side of the road. Dad had helpfully explained that when these half shaft things fail, the car stops.

So on Saturday it was decided that we had to buy a car.

Some people enjoy going to car dealers. I have friends who go as a sort of hobby and try assorted cars with no intention of buying them. I could denounce this as immoral or such like but in reality I simply find it bizarre. Car dealers treat me like an idiot with no money: a perceptive analysis probably based on my poor dress sense and cheap shoes and watch. Apparently car dealers look at such things as cheap accessories (women regard shoes and watches as accessories – I regard them as things to keep me from getting wet feet and a thing to tell me when I have missed meetings respectively) and decide on one’s ability to buy cars based on this.

Anyhow we entered the realm of the car dealer. Clearly we only went to one shop. Elenwe had decided over many months – changing her mind every few weeks- what sort of vehicle was appropriate. Indeed her indecisiveness and my encouragement of it had been a useful tactic to avoid this dread day of car purchase. Unfortunately the tactic had become something of a substitute for a strategy and now the tactic had failed.

The dealership was shiny and had large glass windows: I believe this is standard and allows one to look at the cars. Had I been at the TUV conference I would at this moment have proposed banning car dealerships and reintroducing the horse and cart. In addition there was a coffee machine. This is a clear sign of decadence. Clearly a proper Ulster car dealership would serve only tea. Furthermore it is obvious that the coffee is paid for by people buying cars. Hence, my money was going to be used to pay for your coffee.

The car dealer proved worryingly pleasant (he probably had recently finished devouring a baby). He let my offspring crawl all over the assorted cars (probably eyeing them as his lunch) and was nice to my wife (he must be a fool – I have never been nice to my wife and look how successful a man I am).

Anyhow we then had a test drive. This consisted of Elenwe driving this car. As I am into ships I will describe it in nautical terms. Essentially I regarded it as HMS Vanguard. A great idea but obsolete long before she set sail and large, heavy and expensive. However, it had a stereo and heated seats which seemed to delight my wife and offspring respectively. I sat taciturn in the back hoping that the Rapture might occur and I might be taken away from this experience. Alternatively sudden death might also have been a good thing. Elenwe might also have liked it as the death in service payment would have allowed an even more expensive car to have been purchased.

Further “good things” about the car according to Elenwe were its automatic gearbox whereby a computer (or an evil republican) placed in some indeterminate part of the vehicle decides which gear to be in. I have always been a bit fuzzy on gears apart from the fact that higher gears tend to mean greater economy and that is always a good thing – it being good for the environment (unimportant) and cheaper (important). Another excellent factor was the cars blueness. Apparently blue in cars is good according to my wife. I might have hoped this represented a political awakening albeit in left right terms I have lefty tendencies. Or maybe Elenwe was interested in blue as in Orange and Blue (complete with drum solo). However, this was not the attraction. Apparently blue is prettier or some such nonsense.

Anyhow the nice car dealer invited me to have a drive after Elenwe’s drive. This was pointless as I had already resigned myself to the fact that I had missed the TUV conference; was going to have to part with money and was having one of the worst days of my life. In reality of course I knew that the dealer was simply trying to get me away from the children so he could eat them. However, I managed to prevent that and drove the battleship which actually turned out to be more like an oil tanker. To be fair it did not make clunking or thudding noises and was capable of at least some acceleration. All of these represent something of an advance on Gordon: though most cars probably do.

Eventually we got back to the dealership and began the process of haggling about the price. To compound my misery I am no good at haggling: my parents were not farmers and as such I cannot do it. Elenwe who is a farmer’s daughter seemed in danger of offering the dealer more money than he asked, such was her enthusiasm for the car. Eventually, however, the process was concluded and we left: much poorer and with a new car to be collected at some unclear date in the future.

The only good point was that my eldest son was sad that Gordon was going. Maybe there is hope for Ulster in him: anyone that resistant to change must have a future in Ulster politics.

  • joeCanuck

    anyone that resistant to change must have a future in Ulster politics.

    That belies your first sentence.

    Anyway, since you are talking cars, What did the Eskimo detective say to the suspect car thief?
    Where were you on the night of 21 September until 21 March?

  • lamhdearg

    I enjoyed your short story Turgon, thank you.

  • Mark McGregor

    If you make it on Saturday and you go to the pub after can I suggest you sit with someone that hasn’t heard this hilarious story before.

    Wouldn’t be fair if I was the one that got to hear it twice.

  • ben

    Well, I *could* read a rambling, incoherent, 5,000-word piece by Turgid about what he did on his summer holidays. And I *could* gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon..

  • I’m told that blue cars are very dangerous Turgon. They blend into the background and the first time you know they’re there is when you’re having your own vehicle prised out of it.

    Red cars, on the other hand, can be seen a mile off and have the reputation of being driven by hormonal male idiots – everyone is one the lookout for them.

    I’d take it back if I were you….

  • pippakin


    Good post, course it could have been about an ex Alliance person who may or may not have had an argument and lost, or it could have been on the riveting subject of spoons I understand some people collect them.

  • alanmaskey

    There are Catholic Orangemen in Africa, Togo, and I do not think His Holiness has problem with them.
    Blue is prettier than orange, the only word in the English language that nothing rhymes with. Red, white and blue are the main colours. Orange is a reject colour.
    I think I missed the punchline.

  • joeCanuck

    And you could try playing the ball rather than being such a snob.

  • joeCanuck

    orange, the only word in the English language that nothing rhymes with

    Myth; here are a few more.
    1. angst, -s /ˈ-æŋkst(s)/[10]
    2. breadth, -s /ˈ-ɛdθ(s)/
    3. bulb, -s, -ed /ˈ-ʌlb(z/d)/[11]
    4. cusp, -s, -ed /ˈ-ʌsp(s/t)/
    5. depth, -s /ˈ-ɛpθ(s)/
    6. eighth, -s /ˈ-eɪtθ(s)/[12]
    7. eth, -s /ˈ-ɛð(z)/[13]
    8. fifth, -s, -ed /ˈ-ɪfθ(s/t)/
    9. filmed /ˈ-ɪlmd/[14] [15][dubious – discuss]
    10. glimpsed /ˈ-ɪmpst/
    11. gulf, -s, -ed /ˈ-ʌlf(s/t)/
    12. heighth, -s /ˈ-aɪtθ(s)/[16]
    13. karsts /ˈ-ɑrsts/[17]
    14. mulcts /ˈ-ʌlkts/[18]
    15. ninth, -s /ˈ-aɪnθ(s)/
    16. oblige, -ed /ˈ-aɪdʒ(d)/
    17. sculpts, /ˈ-ʌlpts/
    18. sowthed, southed /ˈ-aʊθt/ ?[19]
    19. sixth, -s /ˈ-ɪksθ(s)/
    20. twelfth, -s /ˈ-ɛlfθ(s)/
    21. wolf, -s, -ed /ˈ-ʊlf(s/t)/
    22. wolve, -s, -d /ˈ-ʊlv(z/d)/

  • pippakin


    Snob? Me?

  • joeCanuck

    Of course not pippakin. That guy Ben above your post.

  • pippakin


    Thank goodness! I had spotted the boy with the spoon fetish, hopefully he is getting counselling…

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Enjoyable story and fittingly conjurs up the image of the once crowded TUV bandwagon as it sets out on what may well be its final rail journey with a rather sad looking Fat Controller wondering where all the passengers ( ‘Car Showroom Prods’) have gone.

  • JJ Malloy

    I don’t get it

  • Queen’s Student

    Two of those ryhme with each other, gulf and wolf

  • Reader

    Paul Evans: Red cars, on the other hand
    Bad idea. When the traffic cops are playing snooker, then red cars are particularly likely to be pulled over. (Red, then colour, then red, then colour). And why do you think white van man gets away with so much?

  • apollo293867

    I am a bit worried by Turgon expressing Leftie tendencies and being in the same party as David Vance. I also want to know the car dealership so I can get a free cup of coffee paid for by Red Turgon.

  • Dr Concitor

    Good story Turgon. I hope you didn’t buy another BMW, they are made by Catholics you know!

  • fin

    Well with a new car you don’t to worry about the wheels falling of or it grinding to a stuttering halt, that just leaves the TUV to worry about.

    Hope the new car has a roomy boot in case TUV pin-up Torrent’s wants to borrow it to give one of my lot a ‘lift’ sometime

  • I really enjoyed that Turgon

    and now we now that you do have a sense of humour!

    Fair Play to ye

  • Rory Carr

    Surely you mean golf and wulf.

    How on earth do you manage to rhyme gulf and wolf ?

  • I think perhaps you need a Bangooor accent to rhyme them Rory

  • Jj

    What do you think of Vance and his attitude towards Muslims, Turgon?

    Is his attitude to Islam (that “Muslims are the cancer of the earth”) TUV policy towards NI’s Islamic population?

  • Glencoppagagh

    Keeping your car on the road for so long was very rational behaviour so why spoil it by going out and buying a brand new one? You do realise it will be worth a lot less than you paid for it once you’ve driven it away from the dealer.

  • meh

    actually the colour red is the most difficult colour for the eye / brain to perceive, particularly in twilight – making a red vehicle the most dangerous to drive.

  • Séamus Rua

    “Buying cars rather than attending the TUV conference”

    Que petit bourgeois …

  • Reader

    Séamus Rua: Que petit bourgeois …
    The car dealership is the TUV equivalent of the Garden Centre

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    “The car dealership is the TUV equivalent of the Garden Centre”

    Get your own lines.

  • Bungditin

    Correct…you don’t do humour

  • edgeoftheunion

    I fear your distaste for car dealers has meant that you miss out on some truly wonderful people. I have never met a Citroën dealer or indeed mechanic that I did not like. Dealing with hydro-pneumatic suspension gives you a certain je ne sais quoi.

  • Rory Carr

    “orange, the only word in the English language that nothing rhymes with”

    Oranges are not the only fruit, Joe, as Ms Winterton once pointed out. Apple doesn’t rhyme with anything and neither does plum come to think of it.

  • JAH

    Yes he does. Anyone in TUV must be having a laugh most of the time in any case