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Car-less whisper has taught me not to tempt fate

A tendency to superstition apparently comes with the turf of being a writer, but perhaps that's just my excuse for being one of those people who won't walk under a ladder. All the same, talk about coincidence or tempting fate by speaking too soon.

Because there I was last week, extolling the glories of driving in the country and reminiscing about my car-less life in Dublin. Generally, I managed fine and dandy without a motor in 'The Big Smoke'. But 'Little Smokes' have dark sides too. For within days of writing those words, our Toyota was stolen.

The joke's on me. I had elaborated on the need for a set of wheels to get to Circle of Friends cafe/restaurant. Well, how's this for irony? The last trip we made was to that very place.

We polished off a lovely evening by watching Brooklyn's Finest, a movie about the boys in blue in one of the biggest 'Smokes' of all. Lucky us, we thought. Aren't we the cute hoors for living in tame little Thomastown?

Like our neighbours, we often left our doors unlocked, nipping across to Barry in the Bridge Brook Arms to borrow bread when we missed the shops. Little did we realise that the 'belle vie' was about to become the brutal Bronx.

We could have saved ourselves the bickering over who'd do the driving the following day. Because, as we soon discovered, someone had already claimed the driver's seat.

The robbery was all the more shocking since our banger was nearly 20 years old. It stood out for all the wrong reasons when we visited Mount Juliet, where we marvelled at car registrations fresher than some food in our fridge.

But those in the know waxed lyrical about our last millennium motor. They don't make them like that anymore, mechanics said. Sure enough, it passed the NCT with flying colours.

Gardai promised to do their best, but we knew our chances were slim. Cars are stolen every day in Ireland, used in crimes or driven into the ground before being burnt out.

Perhaps what was most upsetting was the fact that my late brother used to drive this car. For years he urged me to learn too, but I shrugged off his advice. It was only after his sudden death that I moved to the country and finally took the bull by the horns. Or rather, the steering wheel by both sweaty hands. His music tapes were in the car's glove compartment.

I kept my eyes peeled for pairs of magpies after the theft, because two is for joy and hence a good sign. My boyfriend laughed. But not as loud as I did when "South-east Ireland's Finest," otherwise known as the Thomastown and Waterford boys in blue, contacted us to say that they'd recovered our car.

So country living regains its charms.

Touch wood.

Sunday Independent