3rd March 2000 at 00:00
What does your car say about you? Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford and author of Driving Passions - the Psychology of the Car, analyses the modes of transport found in schoolcar parks.

"This is on a par with the Austin Allegro as one of the naffest cars in the world. There are websites that rate the ugliest cars, and the Marina pops up all the time.

"A bloke drives this - no woman would. He's the sort who would wear a cardigan with leather buttons. He doesn't really give a damn about what people think of him. A Marina does not enhance your image and the owner is probably quite comfortable with that - he has his own sense of who he is.

"If you are lacking in self-image, one way of making up for it is to drive a particular car which re-defines you. People with a strong personal identity have less of a need for the trappings in terms of the car they drive.

"But there are two things going on here. Either the owner doesn't need to make a statement, or he is being ironic. Either way the owner is not at all brash - I would say he is gentle and kind.

"The person who drives this is a stable and secure person. It's somebody who is clearly not well off - you can buy one for a couple of hundred pounds. Anybody with any money would trade it in.

"It's s a bad, bad car thatdoesn't ork very well. Bits fall off it. The really ironic statement would be to drive the MG version.

"Whoever drives this will say they do it because it gets them to school in the mornings and to Tesco on a Saturday. They probably go to the Yorkshire Dales on holiday rather than Tuscany."

The car belongs to TobySherring, who teaches music at St Peter's high school in Exeter.

"Actually, I'm borrowing this car from my Dad, but my car - a Metro - probably says similar things about me. It has been totally reliable and it's nice and warm. It can be ugly but if you park it at certain angles it can look quite nice.

"I'm interested in what Dr Marsh says about not needing the car for my identity. It doesn't bother me that I drive it.

"I turned up at school as a new teacher in it. The pupils took the mickey, but I ignored them. There was another teacher there who had had one and he understood about it not being very, erm, nice.

"My dad probably does go to the Yorkshire Dales.

"I think I am quite gentle and kind. I'm teaching music because the teacher is off sick, but I'm qualified to teach RE and I have got an interview to be selected for ordination so I hope I have those qualities."

HARVEY McGAVIN Wonder what your chosen mode of transport says about you?E-mail your details to: harvey.mcgavin@tes.co.uk

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