But did you realise that their cars aren’t vehicles as we know them? Have you ever heard a man say a car is “just a means of getting from A to B”?
No, you didn’t. And if you did, it was probably as their wife/partner tried to pick her “runaround”. The woman can make do with a Starlet/Micra/Fiesta while they salivate about leaving a carbon footprint the size of a mammoth.
I firmly believe that once the Irish male steps into his car, he enters a time machine. His car becomes an ancient chariot and he some latterday Gladiator-type in Ancient Rome taking on a horde of bloodthirsty Persians. Every approaching car is a threat to his supremacy and has to be left for dust.
When a man takes his family on a long drive, this Grand Theft Auto mindset is to the fore.
There’s nothing about the fact he has four lives in his hands. It’s just him, the wheel and dozens of enemy cars blocking the path to his final destination.
In my case, Paul normally drives a diesel so when he gets into my car, he’s nothing short of a 15-year-old joyrider — in action and in attitude. He over-accelerates on corners, brakes dramatically, refuses to slow down as another crazy driver comes tearing towards us on a country road and can go from 0 to 100kph in 20 seconds (I drive a Ford Focus, not a six-series Beemer by the way).
He’ll arrive in Dublin from Cork, sink into an armchair, crack open a beer and nonchalantly say: “Aaah I did it in three hours tonight. The roads were quiet.” I, meanwhile, am ashen-faced.
However, once I sit into the driver seat and he the passenger seat, Russell Crowe/Eddie Irvine vanishes and the man beside me becomes something akin to the cloth-cap wearing Bill, the local elderly driving instructor. He now has an acute heart problem, eyes in the back of his head and will hold onto the dashboard like a child in a rollercoaster as I turn into our driveway.
I’m not checking my blind spot as I pull off from the kerb. I’m not gearing up quickly enough. I’m driving too close to the car in front. I’m going to burn out the clutch. I’m driving at 53km per hour in a 50km zone. Even the drive to the local supermarket can feel like my first-ever driving lesson.
Does this turn me into a salivating Rottweiler? Oh God no. I just press down on the accelerator, sit back into the seat, turn to him and smile: “Paul — quatre points, Claire — zéro points.” The car goes strangely quiet.