Peter and Dessie fell into the category of “egits”. They were to the motor trade what City bankers are to compassion and the greater good.
They had carved out a 20-year career specialising in buying and selling “dubious” used cars by walking a very thin line which veered between illegal and unbelievable.
Peter was the “brains” of the duo.
Five feet two inches tall, dark greasy hair, very thin.
Always bouncing from one foot to the other when in conversation and always wearing the same clothes summer and winter; grey flannels, white shirt, thin black tie, and black braces. Even on the wettest and coldest of days I never ever saw him wear a jacket.
Dessie was not the brains of the duo.
In appearance he would remind you of Eric Morecombe; tall, black curly hair, straight backed, glasses, and with a semi angelic look about him – as if he was looking for his dog collar but couldn’t find it.
But he really was as thick as “champ” (an Irish form of mashed potatoes and scallions for the uneducated).
Whatever Peter said – Dessie did, unquestioningly.
The presentation and quality of their used car pitch was recognised the length and breadth of Ireland as being close to perfect – as perfect that is as the behaviour of the Catholic Church in recognising its part in all the child abuse allegations over the following 40 years.
I recall one of Peter and Dessie’s customers calling into see me – a miserable bugger called Martin Monaghan – he wouldn’t have given you a thick penny for a thin one.
“What’s up Martin” I said.
“Oh, I’m having a bit of a problem with those boyos who have that used car lot down the road. You know them – Peter and Dessie.
They told me the old Cortina I bought was perfect in every way and had had a full respray to bring it up to spec, and now a month later there is a hole the size of your fist on top of the mudguard, and the same appearing on the sill beneath the driver’s door.”
Now Dessie and Peter had indeed bought the car from me and the car without doubt was an old rust bucket, and the price which they had paid me reflected that.
But Peter was always one for a large/quick profit and set about refurbishing the car at minimum cost to gain maximum profit. The “fist sized holes” on top of the wings had been filled with cardboard (yes cardboard), then covered with Isopon (a filler) – and then painted.
The work of skilled craftsmen did I hear you say?
Needless to say, after a few showers of rain everything started to collapse in on itself.
Never ever would these two guys give a warranty with anything they sold, so needless to say there were always rows, fights and arguments with their customers.
Somehow however, these two seemed to attract those customers who were always looking for a “cheap bargain” and who would never see the benefit of buying from a main agent.
So sympathy would be in short supply if they came visiting me.
Despite their inclination to constantly sail close to the wind Peter never stayed in any of Her Majesty’s establishments.
This was not because of the expensive services of a smart lawyer or QC.
No, Dessie and Peter would only seek help from the formidable Silver McKee to “amicably resolve” any customer disputes.
A monster of a man Silver – he was 6 feet 4 inches tall and about the same width. He wore size 14 shoes and genuinely had hands the size of his feet.
In any dispute, and there were many, Silver would look at the customer with those cold expressionless eyes, and quietly suggest that they had got a good deal and therefore should go away – immediately.
Not many people would argue with the bold Silver, as for over 15 years he was the unofficial “All Ireland Bare Knuckle Fist Fighting Champion” and had a fearsome reputation in bars and gypsy camps on both sides of the Irish Sea.
When Silver passed away in the 1980’s, of natural causes (whiskey), Peter decided that it was time for a change of direction. “…..as it was becoming harder and harder to make an honest living in the motor trade”.
He and Dessie decided to move into “Care Homes” for the elderly.
No, not as inmates, but as owners of about half a dozen of them.
God help us all!