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Pimp my Punto

Irish Sunday Independent
January, 21 2007


For a while now I have been fantasizing about my car being stolen so I can collect the insurance money. The only stumbling block to my cunning plan is that it's a nine-year-old Fiat Punto with seventy-five thousand miles on the clock and it isn't worth nicking. Over the years, it has been reversed into twice; it has had a new passenger door and three new wheels; it's been clamped, scraped, dented and punctured and it frequently runs out of petrol because the little orange light doesn't work anymore. There are no modern accessories like power steering or electric windows and the inbuilt stereo system is so old it only plays vinyl phonographic records, which tend to skip horribly when you drive over speed bumps.


With a following wind and a suitable downhill gradient, the car just about manages to go from naught to sixty in 15 minutes but any attempts to go faster than that will cause it to shudder and vibrate violently like a spin dryer with a missing wheel. So no self-respecting joy rider would be seen dead pimping a ride in my Punto. In its dilapidated state, it's the very opposite of a babe-magnet. Indeed, if anything, my car is a babe-repellent.


That's why I couldn't believe my luck last week when it was stolen  or so I thought. What made it even more unbelievable was that it was nicked in broad daylight from one of South Dublin's most affluent suburbs, where Porches and Mercs sit in gravel driveways protected by state-of-the-art security systems. I had parked it a few doors down from the house of Ronan Hardiman - he who is famous for composing the music for "Lord of the Dance"  and gone inside for a couple of hours to record a song which I sang at Michael Flatley's wedding. The finished CD of the song, which was written specially for the ceremony, would be his wedding present. Well, what else do you get for the man who has everything?

Once the recording session was over, I had a quick cup of tea in Ronan's kitchen and a secret drool over his platinum discs in the downstairs loo before saying goodbye and heading off home. It was only when I got outside that I discovered the grand larceny of my dreams had taken place when I had least expected it. O rapture - the car was gone! I walked up and down the road a few times just to make sure and then I went back inside to tell Ronan and to call the police.

Within ten minutes, the squad car had pulled up into the Hardiman driveway and two fine looking policemen got out.


"What's the make and year of the car, Sir?" asked one policeman in his mellifluous Kerry accent.


"It's a '97 Punto," I replied.


He raised his eyebrow and gave a sideways look over to his colleague who then wrote something in his notebook.


"Was there any broken glass where you parked it?" he continued.


"No," I replied.


Again, there was an exchange of looks accompanied by an arched eyebrow and a further quick scribble.


"Hopefully we will recover your car as soon as possible," said the policeman as he went off into the hall to report the incident.


Hopefully not, I thought, as I began imagining about how I would spend the insurance money.


Meanwhile, Ronan had been phoning the neighbours to find out if they had seen anything suspicious. One of them who lives in the vicinity had just called back and, as it turned out, not only did she know exactly what had happened to my car, she had captured the whole incident on cctv.


The policeman with the notebook was delighted.


"We'll catch the little rascals red-handed so," he said, licking his pencil in anticipation.


But that was when things started turning sour. Part of my car, claimed Miss Neighbourhood Watch, had been blocking her driveway and, as a result, she was unable to get her enormous SUV out the gate. In a fit of South Dublin pique, she had called the police and insisted that they come and tow it away.


I groveled and apologised for wasting police time but I could see they were delighted they weren't going to have to go chasing some joyriding pensioner in my Punto playing Matt Monroe records at full volume.


However, instead of getting my insurance bonanza, I was going to have to hand over my hard earned cash in order to get the worthless wreck out of the car pound. There was only one thing for it. I put aside all my murderous thoughts and walked off down that posh leafy lane to catch the Dart home.


If they wanted me to come and take the old car back they would have to make me a very good offer. Meanwhile, I have gone out and bought myself a bike.



This is an example for Niall's distinctive style. If you want to read more of his articles please visit