If there was ever the waste of the potential of a thoroughbred car, it is the Volkswagen T-Roc R which I have been driving since just before the 'lockdown' started.
I had picked it up just two days before it was decided that car showrooms would shut and the ability to change press cars would go.
Paddy Comyn, the VW public relations guru and son of my predecessor on this column, the late much-respected Pat, suggested I hold on to the car for a while, which I have done, but I feel this time will be coming to an end as garages begin to reopen.
Other than a couple of buzzes around the M50 before restrictions hit, I have mainly used the T-Roc R for short trips with the dogs to Phoenix Park, as well as for food shopping.
Based on the same platform as the Golf, the T-Roc is a very attractive SUV with good space and great road manners, despite its rather elevated stance. The VW R badge is kept for real high-performance models developed at the famed Nurburgring.
Apparently the T-Roc R will hit 100kmh in 4.8 seconds on the way to nearly 250kmh, if you so desire. I don't. Apart from the distinct badging, 19-inch black alloys, a very special four-pipe exhaust system, there is a punchy 2.0-litre petrol engine producing nearly 300bhp, an excellent variable 4WD system and a smooth automatic box.
The inside might be a bit underwhelming in a car that costs an eye-watering €57,916, but I, and the dogs, found it extremely comfortable. I got admiring looks from those in the know, and that's something really good for the ego.
Colleagues abroad, who were able to test the car properly before the lockdown, also had questions over the cost and interior but for the driving experience they can't but rave: "Highly enjoyable process of driving this car fast on a fantastic road" (Autocar); "An extremely confident, quick and grippy thing... if you've really got your heart set on a crossover then the T-Roc R should make any shortlist" (Top Gear); "Unlocking a turn of pace that confirms the T-Roc R as a properly fast car, and an easy to drive and handle one at that" (Auto Express). I'll be sorry to see it go - it's a pity I wasn't able to use its full potential.
While I have been going through my parents' letters from the last world war, I have also been delving into some of their books. One called Thought for Food by Cecily Finn and Joan O'Connor (Museum Press) was given to them when they purchased a small Cornish hotel in 1961.
Very much of its day, it gives recipes for 'Dinner for Husband's Managing Director' and rather more daring 'Dinner for One's First Love after a lapse of 10 years' or 'First Dinner at Home after the Return from a Honeymoon', which aims "to delight your adoring husband by proving that, not only are you loving and beautiful, but you can cook". However, in keeping with this column's title, I was drawn to 'Midnight Meal for Famous Personages (marooned on your doorstep by breakdown of car)'.
As always, the chapter begins with a quote which in this case is "How beautiful, they are, the lordly ones" (Fiona McCleod). It then gives an AIM: "As much as lies within your power, to extend hospitality worthy of your guests. It may be a bit of an effort, but, if you rise to the occasion, think what a good story you can make of it afterwards."
Then there is SETTING: "As they find it. They may be handsome, haughty and used to high-class hotels, but this is your home and there's no need to be humble about it. Get out the brandy, light the fire and while your husband is offering the use of the telephone and the bathroom, disappear into the kitchen and prepare a light but sustaining meal. You should have at least half an hour's time while they are telephoning, renovating and generally recovering their poise."
Finally comes the MENU, which is:
French onion soup.
Scrambled eggs, tomatoes and chives.
Cream cheese and orange crescents.
After giving detailed method and timings, the authors add a NB: "Although we have composed this quickly-prepared meal for famous personages who should reward, according to their rank, with anything from a medal to a couple of complementary stalls, we are convinced that you would serve it in exactly the same manner whomsoever should appeal to you in their need for hospitality." Just so.
You may think me an old fogey, but I did note last week that Florian Schneider, co-founder and keyboardist of the influential German electronic music group Kraftwerk, has died aged 73. As everybody knows, or at least Rolling Stone tells me, the band itself considered their 1974 album Autobahn to be the true start of their famed catalogue, which earned the group a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. If you have ever spent a long time on motorways (and who hasn't?), Autobahn gets the sensation exactly.
I see that the Girardo auction house has a very special 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE Polizia for sale at around €600,000.
Apparently, Italian crime in the 1960s was just like the films - squealing tyres, crashing bumpers and screaming engines, with the criminals racing to escape the Polizia.
Italy's police force had previously used black Alfa Romeo 1900s, nicknamed Pantera, but as criminals got faster, so did the police with sportier green Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 saloons. One of Italy's top cops was Rome-based Armando Spatafora. When asked what he needed to compete with the criminals, Spatafora asked for a Ferrari. To which he was told: "A Ferrari you will have."
Spatafora was sent to a high-speed driving course in Maranello, the home of Ferrari. With its 3.0-litre, V12 engine and top speed in excess of 250kmh, the 250 GTE was a game-changer for Spatafora, who in 1962 was given the 2+2 Series II model now offered for sale by Girardo.
There was a sister car but it had a sticky end. Apparently, it is the only private car in Italy with special permission to circulate with siren, blue light and 'Squadra Mobile' livery.