There's no rust on my chassis

12th May 2000 at 01:00
DURING the Easter break, on a family foray to the Lake District, I went to see another classic car. It was a peach and I ended up buying it. The car is a Reliant Scimitar SS1, a nippy two-seater inexplicably unloved in its time.

Even at speeds well below the legal limit there is a high ear-to-ear grin factor when the top is down. With its rust-proof glassfibre body and waxed chassis, it is a vehicle with many virtues and few drawbacks.

Except for one. When I tell people I've got a Reliant I'm usually asked if it has three wheels, ha ha ha.

I don't mind my car being laughed at but I deplore lack of originality. A friend was once working for the electoral roll people and found himself in a similar predicament. He had to pretend to find it funny when, on asking if there was anyone new at an address, he was told time and again: "Only the dug!"

Another pal had a holiday job at Dounreay and soon lost all capacity to feign polite amusement at being asked if he glowed in the dark.

There are lots of funny things to say to teachers: "Still beating up the kids?"; "What, not on holiday?"; and "Sixth-year girls, eh? Phwoarrrrrrr!" This last one is best met with a glacial stare which may lead to claims of post-modrnist irony.

S1 science intakes always have a smart-ass kid who asks: "Can we blow things up?" This, too, can be met with a glacial stare and a curt: "Science isn't about destroying things."

Or you could bring out the exploding custard tin and make a bid to grab the populist vote early on at the expense of perpetuating a stereotype.

While gags about Reliants don't reveal much about the human condition, those about teaching can be illuminating. People are envious of our holidays. People do think that all we have to do is to discipline the pupils without resorting to violence.

How many times have you heard a friend say: "I couldn't be a teacher because I'm rubbish at explaining things in an interesting way at an appropriate level"?

Never. It's invariably: "The kids would drive me nuts (and I'd end up hitting them)."

So I'm off to work to duff up the first year. In a couple of days I'm bound to have another holiday but I'll give chatting up the sixth-year girls a miss. Nobody would want a ride in a custard-powder demolition expert's three-wheeler anyway.

Gregor Steele's type of Reliant was described by one classic car pundit as "slow, ugly and badly made, but apart from that, great".

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