A special breed “traders” are.
Traders are the middle men who traditionally buy unwanted part exchanges from car dealerships around the country. Many are exceptionally bright, inventive individuals who work hard and make a good living.
Many are not.
This end of the market can often attract the lazy ex-salesman who can’t get a job so decide to go it alone. It also draws the dodgy side of the trade – those looking to make an easy living, and don’t really care how they do it (like the way the City attracts similarly talented individuals into the banking business, except a little bit tamer).
One of this special breed of traders was the saintly Dermot O’Mara.
His personal transport was a very battered old 356 Porsche – complete with a tow bar and homemade roof rack.
It was the first Porsche I can remember being driven by anyone in Northern Ireland, and at the time (the mid 1960’s) the cars shape and outline was unlike anything else around at the time – a beautiful and timeless shape.
However, this was not a prime example of the famous marque.
Dermot had bought the car in England from a scrap yard – the car had been severely damaged in a road accident and written off by the insurance company, but the bold Dermot had “repaired” the car on the cheap, and it showed. Dr. Porsche in designing this classic had used many VW Beetle parts, but not as many as Dermot had used to rebuild the wreck. The engine, gearbox, steering wheel, front and back seats, they were all salvaged parts from a donor VW Beetle, and had been “made” to fit.
Mind you at 20 paces it looked OK and for the strutting peacock that Dermot was, this car was the perfect transport.
Now, the bold Dermot had a son called Pius, he was apparently named after an early Pope – a not uncommon practice amongst devout motor trade families in those days.
As a motor trader of dubious heritage, no doubt Dermot named his son as such to give him a helping hand in finding his way in this world.
However, at the age of 10, Pius was just like his old man – unruly and a law unto himself.
He accompanied his dad most days on his buying visits to the motor trade around Belfast, though I understood he did also attend school from time to time, but mostly he rode shotgun for his Dad.
However, Pius’s reputation soon spread around the dealerships as utter mayhem would follow wherever he visited.
Some examples of the sorts of things he would get up to on a regular basis:
Urinating (phishing) in the showroom – usually upon the most expensive cars, or into waste paper baskets.
Removing all the showroom car keys from their cabinets in the sales offices and hiding them in some obscure place (the last time in our dealership it took 3 hours to recover them – despite the bold Dermot’s best attempts to chastise the boy).
Setting fire to the waste paper baskets in the sales office (see item 1).
There was no end to the lad’s talents for causing mayhem.
Sadly, Dermot couldn’t really be bothered telling him off and actually seemed to enjoy his son’s misdemeanours, almost taking pride in his notoriety.
“Sure he’s only arsing about – just a youngster” Dermot would say.
However, as time went by Pius just became more and more disruptive around the business, and something had to be done.
One fine day we traded in an old Morris Oxford. It was a one owner car (he had been a keen angler), only 65000 miles on the clock, with just a little bit of rust in the driver’s side footwell.
We knew Dermot would be a good buyer of this car, so I rang him to come and have a look at it. Dermot himself called in to have a quick look and sure enough he bought the car at a good price saying he would pick it up later the same day.
Sure enough, later on he and Pius duly arrived – Pius running riot as usual.
Dermot piled him into the back of Morris Oxford and told him he’d be back for him in a couple of minutes.
Now, a large plastic tub had been left on the back seat of the Morris Oxford by the previous owner (he didn’t want it back) and this would unsurprisingly be a matter of great curiosity for Pius.
Sure enough in just a few minutes we could hear the screams coming from the car, possibly even reaching decibel levels which we hadn’t heard before, but Dermot just put it down to Pius’ usual high spirits, (‘sure he’s only arsing about’). So, we all ignored him.
It subsequently transpired that Pius had indeed investigated the tub on the back seat of the car, and found that it was full of maggots – in various degrees of maturity.
The large tub had been knocked over in Pius’s excitement to open it, and the bloody maggots had gone everywhere. All over the back seats, into the front seats, on to the dashboard, and covering the bold Pius from head to toe – in his hair, inside his shirt, down his trousers – they were everywhere.
Strangely, all the interior door handles and window winders had somehow been removed from the Morris Oxford and so the poor Pius was unable to escape.
Dermot, like the rest of us heard the screaming and shouting but was in no hurry as this sort of behaviour was perfectly normal; …. “arsing about” – as he called it.
So, about 15 minutes later, screaming not relenting for 1 second, Dermot went onto the forecourt and opened the door to drive off in his latest purchase to be greeted – not just by the screaming and flaying Pius, but also by thousands of maggots flying and falling out of the door of the car, onto him and onto the forecourt.
Needless to say, we were all in stitches watching this going on. The more Dermot tried to get the maggots off Pius, the more there seemed to be. They were everywhere.
To finally remove the maggots from Pius, Dermot got him to run around to our outside car wash bay, where our car cleaners were only too glad to spray the little devil with the cold water high pressure hose until Dermot said stop.
(We all had to stand and watch – just in case they missed a bit).
Later they did the same to the car.
This car unbelievably ended up being sold by Dermot to a well-known heavy duty provisional IRA man (I hope he was a keen fisherman as well).
Bizarrely, we had virtually no further trouble from Pius.
He did not however “take the cloth” when he came of age, nor did he become fond of fishing, but he did have an aversion to flying objects, and he did duly follow his father Dermot into the ancient art of motor trading.
We never did find out who removed the interior door and window winder handles!
Dermot O’Mara – a simple trader.
Only 5’4” tall; chubby with cheeks which were permanently red; a boozy bloodshot nose and greying hair that was all over the place.
He had a glass eye which had been fitted by a surgeon who obviously had struggled with his final exams and consequently Dermot tended to nearly close this eye when talking to anyone. Always dressed like a country squire – tweed suits with waistcoats, checked shirts, and always light brown “dealing boots” on his feet.
He lived on the border near Crossmaglen, and had also made a small fortune smuggling sheep across the border from the North to the South of Ireland – and then back again – claiming the various EU duties for each trip on both sides of the border – from both agencies.
He worked on the assumption like many of his neighbours, that few if any EU civil servants would want to notice anything untoward with the paperwork or indeed ever venture into the wilds of the border country to check things out, because during the “troubles” in Northern Ireland they correctly probably felt there was less than a 50% chance of them ever getting back home in anything other than a body bag.
Dermot O’Mara, a simple trader.