Yoda in the Skoda

There was a Mondeo in Bellmullet. Test, no tax, “….she won’t need much….” after that it was all Ballina, Ballycastle and Castlebar. Passats, Hondas and heaps of Insignias. There was Insignias everywhere. All washed, looking good, but dead inside. “Engine light on, not sure, probably just a sensor…” which is Chinese for that oil seal yoke that blows the engine that everyone suddenly knows about and is dying to tell you only after you buy it. Been there, done that, burnt the fuckin t-shirt. One lad had a Skoda for sale but had no keys. The car was locked but you could look in the side window and if you liked what you saw you could tow it away. No tax, test, and no logbook “…hence the price…” 

On went the dream. A Kia in Limerick. A Tuscon in Crossmolina. Cars in the North at crazy cheap prices til you add the VRT and the wonderful Nox. An Avensis in Headford. A Focus in Roscommon.  Lads offering PCP. Sure PCP is easy. Almost certain to get it. Here’s one now, a nice 1 litre, affordable, reliable, guaranteed. Call today, drive away. Yours by lunch, no credit crunch. Take the wheel, enjoy the steal. Want to go far, then buy this car. Sure that’ll do, time to get out of the dregs, into the big leagues, shiny at the football pitch with the child, big shtuff. Here we went, just a case of picking it up. There was breeze, a bruised sky, and an uncertain salesman. Yeah, them deals were a while ago, where’d you read that?  

– Internet. 

-Oh right. See. Well. Let’s try.  

We tried. There was paperwork. Questions. More questions. Questions about questions. Bit like giving blood. Then there was forms. Beloved forms. Upload this, scan that, make sure it’s this date and from these places only. Now we’ll think about it. Hit submit and we’ll be back within 48 to 72 hours and we might need more. Depends on if you fucked it up. No car today, no steal of a deal or fancy wheels making lunch time reels around shiny new leather roundabouts of long term debt and wonderful guarantees of reliable travel. 

Back to Donedeal. Even the Skoda with no keys was gone by now.  

The phone rang, then. The dealer that bought the Peugeot. Christ, Jesus, why’s he ringing me? Didn’t I tell him it didn’t work? He was hardly wondering about the weedkiller in the engine? 

I answered with a tentative, hello? Like I wasn’t sure who it was. Casual, innocent, blameless in this whole mess.  

He didn’t buy it, asked: ‘Have you got a new car yet?  


‘Are you still lookin for somethin? I met your oul fella downtown. He said you were lookin…’ 

‘I….am. Well, just waiting on a PCP….’ 

‘I have a yoke here for ya.’ 

‘Oh yeah?’ 

‘Yeah, two months test, tax, and in good shape. I’ll call around and show to ya.’ 


‘Are you at the house?’ 


‘Sound….I’ll be outside in two minutes.’ 

And he was.  



The Pole.

There was big talk about this pole. Everyone kept on about the pole. The pole. The pole. I was driving down the road and the phone rang and this foreign lad said: ‘We need to talk about the pole?’

‘The pole?’

‘The pole.’

‘What pole?’

‘You hit the pole.’

‘What pole are you talking about?’

‘Today, when you were leaving in your car, you reversed back and into the pole.’


‘In the estate. I was talking to you – and I said there was a man in a white van trying to leave and you were in his way and I asked you to reverse and then you reversed over the pole and the pole is in very bad shape now.’

‘How bad?’

‘We think this pole is destroyed. It will not work as a pole anymore.’

‘Still, I don’t know what you’re on about.’

‘It’s ok.’

‘It’s ok?’

‘Yes it’s ok. We have you on CCTV.’


‘CCTV. It’s a recording device. And we have you. And your car. And your registration and we can see you reversing and then driving over the pole. You did it twice.’

‘Did what twice?’

‘Drove over the pole. First time your car had some resistance so you went forward, then went back into reverse with more power, and made a mess of concrete and debris and the pole now won’t work.’

‘So what’s the plan, like, I don’t know how to fix poles.’

‘You must come down here.’

‘And what?’

‘Pay me €100.’

I got a flashback then. Dodgy types smoking rollies and cossacks with no teeth and kind Romanians. It was in beside a laundry with the smell of cheap detergent and broken washing machines strewn around the courtyard. I remembered the pole too. It was like backing over a big cardboard box – gave no resistance. Figured it was already broke and just needed a tip from me. But now here’s Paddy cement bags looking for €100.

I said: ‘I’ll be back again one of the days and give you a shout.’

‘Ok, he said. I’ll be waiting.’

So I hung up and blocked his number and forgot about it. Everything was going well. Then I got a voicemail: ‘Hello, Mick, this is the guards here, could you give us a shout when you get a chance?’

What’s this now, hardly the pole? I rang it back and they said: ‘Mick, there was a fella in here talking about a pole….can you explain what happened?’

It went on like that. There was talk of damages. Insurances. Statements. Court. They weren’t letting it go. They took their poles very seriously and they wanted compensation.

I went back down. Met some of the locals and asked them about the pole. They said it was a regular thing. The pole was hardly standing at all. Fellas do it the whole time and the same lad rings them up and asks for money. No badness in him, he’s just weird like that. They brought me over and showed it to me. How it does be left standing up and fellas do come and knock it over.  Like this:


But sure now the guards were involved and what can you do?

So I rang him back asked how much.

‘€100.’ He said.

‘I’ll be there again Friday.’

Rang the guards back. Told them it was sorted. They said thanks. And they never heard so much about a pole.


El Nino Cover-1

El Niño by Mick Donnellan