In The Red: Encounters with tattooed car salesmen, and good uses for haggis


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The Independent Online

Today marks a year since I started making a mockery of the Money section's hard-won gravitas, so I thought I would remind you of some of the … well, let's call them highlights.

Remember in January, when my girlfriend and I met a couple who had moved to Australia?

All during lunch, they were trying to persuade us to emigrate. He asked me what I did. I told him I worked for this newspaper. His face fell a little. "Oh. Pity you weren't a carpenter or a plumber or something. You know… like a real trade?" I looked at my pale, soft, rather wee hands, feeling like a cross between Niles Crane and a gingham summer dress.

Then there was the time I discovered vouchers…

Nowadays there is no such stigma about using a site like GroupOn to get a few quid off your next pizza. If you tell your dinner companions that you have a voucher which entitles all of you to a free slice of battenberg cake, they are unlikely to sneer and talk about you in the taxi home. Well, they might, but that would be more down to your letting slip that you watch Desperate Scousewives.

Thrift was still on my mind when it came to getting hitched…

It isn't cheap to get married. And I say that as someone who is both cheap and about to get married. Actually, I'm in the fortunate position of having my upcoming marriage financed by Stephen Hester's renounced RBS bonus.

As it turned out, my biggest outlay of the year was a second-hard car…

A wiry man with leatherette skin strode over, followed by a burly youth. It was quickly apparent why the hefty-chested lad had been employed at all: the first guy was slight, like a pipecleaner, but heavily tattooed, so much so that he evidently needed a supplementary person to provide skin-space for the tattoo overspill. "One lady owner?" I said, sceptically. Wiry Man placed his hand on my shoulder. "Back and forward to church on Sundays, my friend." Tattoo Overspill Youth looked upwards and mumbled: "Hallelujah."

Thankfully, I was prepared, as I explained in March …

In my homeland, haggling is a contact sport. Where do you think haggis got its name? It's not primarily a foodstuff: it's an implement with which to strike your business contact if he offers too few fringles for your stoogly. It only morphed into a main course option when one clan chief tried to batter the other across the jaw and left a chunk of haggis in his opponent's mouth. "Why that's … delicious!" cried the recipient, before the two sat down to eat their way to fiscal agreement.

Next week, more 2012 "highlights"…

Twitter: @DonaldAMacInnes

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