You learn something new every day (1)

And it’s not necessarily something that might be good. To be honest, I didn’t know what to think, but in a strange sort of way it put a few things into perspective.

My brother and I have been delving into the family history, or at least my brother is throwing everything at it, and I’m along for the ride.

I did have a trove of stuff that we found when cleaning out my parent’s house when they moved into aged care, and at the time I didn’t think much of it. It was more about getting them settled than figuring out what was kept.

Now, four or so years later, and having finally received an interim output of the family tree, it’s not so much the forebears that interested me, as it was my parents.

It seems that our looking at our immediate family’s potted lives is like walking through a minefield, riddled with contradictions, rumors, and anecdotal evidence that doesn’t, for the moment, have any hard evidence to back it up. Or at least some have, but that’s not the interesting part.

So, picture this. The extent of my knowledge of my immediate family was that my father is Australian, his mother English, and I’m a second-generation Australian with an English grandparent. It doesn’t sound much, but not so long ago I could have applied for and got an English passport and had dual nationality. Unfortunately, that cannot happen anymore, you have to be one or the other.

My mother’s mother was of English descent and her husband of German descent. It was understood that my grandfather on this side died not long after I was born, though for a long time we were never told how. Only recently it came to light that he had committed suicide, and my brother has a copy of the suicide note he wrote. Morbid, eh? It turns out he thought he had cancer, but didn’t and mistakenly ended his life thinking he might have been a burden on my grandmother.

But now we started digging, getting dates of birth, easy, dates of death, easy, marriage certificates, and parents’ names for this limited dip into history, relatively simple.

But the story, the real aspects of genealogy, is where they went to school, their first job, what the did in the war, that fascinating the story of their lives at different times, that’s where I’m more interested. My brother has the facts, I want to give them a story entwining those facts.

Something that adds some flesh to the story is letters.

Another recent addition to the pile of family documents are the letters between my mother and father before they were married, and the fact my mother had another boyfriend, something we never knew until the great clean up. I have those letters, or some of them too.

Those letters, from him, unfortunately, we don’t have hers, are fascinating, as are those from my father. There is no indication of why there was a breakup with the first boyfriend, but I did learn that my father had gone to an introduction agent by the name of Mrs. J Phillips who gave him her name. What factors had led him down this path?

It was, to me, very Dolly Levi-ish.

I discovered my father worked as a projectionist at the Snowy River hydro-electric project after the war., around 1948. He had spoken of showing pictures at the Athenaeum Theatre in Flinders Street, and the King’s Theatre in Melbourne, but not exactly when, which accounted for his amazing knowledge of Hollywood movie stars. It was, however, as much as he had shared for a long time.

I also discovered that he was in Perth, Western Australia immediately after the war, and then went overseas to England by ship 13th August 1947, arriving in London on 12th September, and stayed at Middlesex with relatives.

Ok, now it gets a little weird because when in Bedfordshire he became engaged to an English girl that he had (apparently) known for 10 years. How this came to pass is still a mystery awaiting an answer. The wedding was supposed to be on 21st December 1947 but never happened, because the marriage was forbidden by her parents because they did not want their daughter to move to Australia, and equally forbidden by his parents because she was Catholic.

Yes. Religion was a breaking point in those days because he was a protestant. He returned, perhaps heartbroken, a year after he left, in April 1948.

I found that for a period of two years there would be enough speculative material to fuel a very lively account of their lives, and particularly his.

My mother, by the way, spent the war years attending Dandenong High School, a steam train ride down from Pakenham to Dandenong. After that, she gained employment in Melbourne, and spend the weekdays at a Ladies Boarding House called Chalmers Hall, in Parliament Place, and going home to Pakenham on the weekends. From a note or two, it seems she was something of a ‘wild’ child who craved doing something with her evenings other than ‘staying in’, with references to her going out with her friends.

My father confessed that he was the family’s black sheep, that he didn’t get along with any of the family, and which was why he was never home and always traveling. He wrote, in one letter of October 1948, that when he got into an argument he got mad and walked out on them, and came back when calm had returned. I assume that meant it might take days, weeks, or even months for the dist to settle.

There were disputes with my father with both his brothers and his parents over marrying my mother, and there were problems between my mother and her parents, to the extent they might not attend the wedding. For a few months of tense silence, there might not have been a wedding at all, but eventually, this happened at Trinity Church, Camberwell, on the 28th of June, 1949.

Wow! It shows that illusions of what might have been their happy day turning out to be moments of high dudgeon. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall.

I still have no idea what split her and the original boyfriend, a man she’d known since she was 14, and was from her hometown area, Pakenham. It might have been something she said because there are indications on one of two draft letters that she was prone to speaking her mind, and had a temper which would not have helped in using discretion. I’m guessing a few years of war would make a man lose interest in a high minded, and perhaps a sharp-tongued woman. I suspect we’ll never know.

She is now 93 and has Alzheimer’s and dementia, and unlikely to remember back then.

Similarly, my father is 97 and I doubt sitting down with him would elicit much on the way of a sensible discussion. He was always irascible at best and oddly suffers from PTSD from his war service if that’s still possible. Over the years he was never prone to sharing his past life, except in snippets, and that, some of it was about the war. I guess war did terrible things to the participants back them

And, as for his war service, we have the physical documentation of where and when, but only a potted history of his own account of his service. But even that is a story and a half in itself.

More on that later.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 94

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160921_071506

This is Chester.

We are in the middle of a philosophical debate.

No, it’s not about whether the world is flat, though sometimes I think he has that notion, as well as all humans are basically stupid.

I’ve been thinking about the pandemic and how it might meld into a plotline for a story.

Chester is not happy that I should use China as the country with global ambitions, after using the term ‘global domination’ and got a very silky retort.

He doesn’t seem to think that by causing a pandemic, making each of the G20 nations basically launch themselves into insolvency in order to maintain some semblance of economic stability, that China, who miraculously recovers, becomes the nation who saves the world?

It sounded quite good in my head.

Particularly when you see nations like the USA, the only other country that could tackle China as a ‘savior’ state, is going slowly down the gurgler.   Or so it seems, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

Chester and I now have mandatory viewing every morning, the Donald Trump show, where we lay bets as to whom he’s going to fire or lambast.

Chester thought the Doctor was gone for all money on Monday.

My money was on the reporter, who wouldn’t stop asking questions.

But today, it might be about Joe Biden and the Democrats, and the ramping up of the Republican’s political campaign.  Who said the COVID briefings had to be about that mundane virus?

Still, it’s back to the drawing board.  The overall plot is good, creating a virus that brings almost every nation to its knees, and one that rises out of the ashes to ‘save the world’.  It’s like you don’t need bullets and arms to fight a war, just a hell of a sneaky virus; you know, infecting people when you don’t know you’ve got it and infecting others.

Hang on, Chester’s calling.  It’s time for the Donald Trump show.

You learn something new every day (1)

And it’s not necessarily something that might be good. To be honest, I didn’t know what to think, but in a strange sort of way it put a few things into perspective.

My brother and I have been delving into the family history, or at least my brother is throwing everything at it, and I’m along for the ride.

I did have a trove of stuff that we found when cleaning out my parent’s house when they moved into aged care, and at the time I didn’t think much of it. It was more about getting them settled than figuring out what was kept.

Now, four or so years later, and having finally received an interim output of the family tree, it’s not so much the forebears that interested me, as it was my parents.

It seems that our looking at our immediate family’s potted lives is like walking through a minefield, riddled with contradictions, rumors, and anecdotal evidence that doesn’t, for the moment, have any hard evidence to back it up. Or at least some have, but that’s not the interesting part.

So, picture this. The extent of my knowledge of my immediate family was that my father is Australian, his mother English, and I’m a second-generation Australian with an English grandparent. It doesn’t sound much, but not so long ago I could have applied for and got an English passport and had dual nationality. Unfortunately, that cannot happen anymore, you have to be one or the other.

My mother’s mother was of English descent and her husband of German descent. It was understood that my grandfather on this side died not long after I was born, though for a long time we were never told how. Only recently it came to light that he had committed suicide, and my brother has a copy of the suicide note he wrote. Morbid, eh? It turns out he thought he had cancer, but didn’t and mistakenly ended his life thinking he might have been a burden on my grandmother.

But now we started digging, getting dates of birth, easy, dates of death, easy, marriage certificates, and parents’ names for this limited dip into history, relatively simple.

But the story, the real aspects of genealogy, is where they went to school, their first job, what the did in the war, that fascinating the story of their lives at different times, that’s where I’m more interested. My brother has the facts, I want to give them a story entwining those facts.

Something that adds some flesh to the story is letters.

Another recent addition to the pile of family documents are the letters between my mother and father before they were married, and the fact my mother had another boyfriend, something we never knew until the great clean up. I have those letters, or some of them too.

Those letters, from him, unfortunately, we don’t have hers, are fascinating, as are those from my father. There is no indication of why there was a breakup with the first boyfriend, but I did learn that my father had gone to an introduction agent by the name of Mrs. J Phillips who gave him her name. What factors had led him down this path?

It was, to me, very Dolly Levi-ish.

I discovered my father worked as a projectionist at the Snowy River hydro-electric project after the war., around 1948. He had spoken of showing pictures at the Athenaeum Theatre in Flinders Street, and the King’s Theatre in Melbourne, but not exactly when, which accounted for his amazing knowledge of Hollywood movie stars. It was, however, as much as he had shared for a long time.

I also discovered that he was in Perth, Western Australia immediately after the war, and then went overseas to England by ship 13th August 1947, arriving in London on 12th September, and stayed at Middlesex with relatives.

Ok, now it gets a little weird because when in Bedfordshire he became engaged to an English girl that he had (apparently) known for 10 years. How this came to pass is still a mystery awaiting an answer. The wedding was supposed to be on 21st December 1947 but never happened, because the marriage was forbidden by her parents because they did not want their daughter to move to Australia, and equally forbidden by his parents because she was Catholic.

Yes. Religion was a breaking point in those days because he was a protestant. He returned, perhaps heartbroken, a year after he left, in April 1948.

I found that for a period of two years there would be enough speculative material to fuel a very lively account of their lives, and particularly his.

My mother, by the way, spent the war years attending Dandenong High School, a steam train ride down from Pakenham to Dandenong. After that, she gained employment in Melbourne, and spend the weekdays at a Ladies Boarding House called Chalmers Hall, in Parliament Place, and going home to Pakenham on the weekends. From a note or two, it seems she was something of a ‘wild’ child who craved doing something with her evenings other than ‘staying in’, with references to her going out with her friends.

My father confessed that he was the family’s black sheep, that he didn’t get along with any of the family, and which was why he was never home and always traveling. He wrote, in one letter of October 1948, that when he got into an argument he got mad and walked out on them, and came back when calm had returned. I assume that meant it might take days, weeks, or even months for the dist to settle.

There were disputes with my father with both his brothers and his parents over marrying my mother, and there were problems between my mother and her parents, to the extent they might not attend the wedding. For a few months of tense silence, there might not have been a wedding at all, but eventually, this happened at Trinity Church, Camberwell, on the 28th of June, 1949.

Wow! It shows that illusions of what might have been their happy day turning out to be moments of high dudgeon. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall.

I still have no idea what split her and the original boyfriend, a man she’d known since she was 14, and was from her hometown area, Pakenham. It might have been something she said because there are indications on one of two draft letters that she was prone to speaking her mind, and had a temper which would not have helped in using discretion. I’m guessing a few years of war would make a man lose interest in a high minded, and perhaps a sharp-tongued woman. I suspect we’ll never know.

She is now 93 and has Alzheimer’s and dementia, and unlikely to remember back then.

Similarly, my father is 97 and I doubt sitting down with him would elicit much on the way of a sensible discussion. He was always irascible at best and oddly suffers from PTSD from his war service if that’s still possible. Over the years he was never prone to sharing his past life, except in snippets, and that, some of it was about the war. I guess war did terrible things to the participants back them

And, as for his war service, we have the physical documentation of where and when, but only a potted history of his own account of his service. But even that is a story and a half in itself.

More on that later.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 94

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160921_071506

This is Chester.

We are in the middle of a philosophical debate.

No, it’s not about whether the world is flat, though sometimes I think he has that notion, as well as all humans are basically stupid.

I’ve been thinking about the pandemic and how it might meld into a plotline for a story.

Chester is not happy that I should use China as the country with global ambitions, after using the term ‘global domination’ and got a very silky retort.

He doesn’t seem to think that by causing a pandemic, making each of the G20 nations basically launch themselves into insolvency in order to maintain some semblance of economic stability, that China, who miraculously recovers, becomes the nation who saves the world?

It sounded quite good in my head.

Particularly when you see nations like the USA, the only other country that could tackle China as a ‘savior’ state, is going slowly down the gurgler.   Or so it seems, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

Chester and I now have mandatory viewing every morning, the Donald Trump show, where we lay bets as to whom he’s going to fire or lambast.

Chester thought the Doctor was gone for all money on Monday.

My money was on the reporter, who wouldn’t stop asking questions.

But today, it might be about Joe Biden and the Democrats, and the ramping up of the Republican’s political campaign.  Who said the COVID briefings had to be about that mundane virus?

Still, it’s back to the drawing board.  The overall plot is good, creating a virus that brings almost every nation to its knees, and one that rises out of the ashes to ‘save the world’.  It’s like you don’t need bullets and arms to fight a war, just a hell of a sneaky virus; you know, infecting people when you don’t know you’ve got it and infecting others.

Hang on, Chester’s calling.  It’s time for the Donald Trump show.

Meanwhile at the railway station…

This was going to be about my usual taxi run, picking up one or other of the grandchildren from either school, or the railway station, to take them home, a benefit their parents have with grand parents with nothing better to do.

I say that tongue in cheek, because I usually have something else to do, but it is a pleasurable experience for either of us because it means we get to spend some time with our grandchildren while they are young, and before they discover that world out there that we ‘oldies’ would know nothing about.

I have no doubt there are times when they think we have past our use by date. It’s the bane of all old people sooner or later, unless they forge a close relationship with them in those early years.

I like to think we have, but you can never tell.

We’d like to be able to give them an independent ear, people who will listen to them and not judge, not in the way parents would. I remember myself saying that my parents would never understand the problems we had, that it was nothing like that when they were our age.

It’s the same now. The mantra never changes, but the generation has shifted, and I guess to a certain extent they are right. We didn’t have computers, mobile phones, or the endless supply of cash to go out with our friends to the mall, to the movies, to parties, sleep overs. We just didn’t have the money period, even if those activities existed in our time.

There wasn’t television, computer games, we had to find our own amusement, in the street, with other kids, using our imagination. We had to socially mix, talk to other kids, and there wasn’t the level of marriage breakups, broken homes, and distressed kids, not in our day. Divorce was a dirty word, spoken in hushed tones.

Now it seems homes with a mother and a father living together, or still talking to each other civilly, is a miracle rather than the norm. What the hell went wrong in 50 years? It seems to me that in the last 25 years we have presided over a world that has fallen to pieces, and, failing to recognise the looming disaster, we just sat by and watched it unfold.

And just how I managed to get so melancholy while waiting for a child at the railways station, I’ll never know. Perhaps it was the observance of several kids bullying another, perhaps it was because I sat in a locked car partially fearful about that trouble spilling over.

I know when I was a child my parents instilled in me a respect for others, even if I didn’t agree with them, or, god forbid, I didn’t like them. Like now, I get along with anyone and everyone because it was how we were taught.

Then.

What happened since then?

Did we forget slowly over time the virtue of tolerance and respect?

Fortunately the train, and my granddaughter has arrived, so I can cease with the rant. The children hassling each other had to run to the train and what might have been an unpleasant scene dissipated without violence.

She gets in the car, after I unlock the doors and it’s the start of a fifteen minute discussion about her day at school. It, too, is very different from my day, but, in it’s way, still the same battlefield between students and teachers.

At least some things never change.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 93

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160917_075223

This is Chester.  We’re getting by during the ‘stay at home’ order.

I’m doing just that, though it sometimes feels like I’m in jail, on the inside looking out.

“Now you know how I feel”, Chester tells me, after jumping up on the window ledge to look out the window, trying to see what had caught my interest.

I don’t tell him I’m basically staring into space.

Except, a car passes, not fast, not slow, but much like the rest of the traffic that passes by.  Or used to.  With the order to stay at home, and the fact schools are not open, there have been fewer and fewer cars passing by.

“Didn’t that car…” Chester mutters.

He’s right.  The same car just went back the other way.  Slow, but not too slow.

“Perhaps’s he’s looking for a house, a particular address.”

We watch and wait.

Five minutes later the car has returned and stops outside my window.  A man gets out the passenger side, says something to the driver, then closes the door.  He starts walking back up the street from where the car had just come.

The car drives off, then a minute later is back, and parks on the other side of the road.  We can see the driver.  Not the sort of person you’d want to need on a dark night.  Tattoos on his arm, and smoking a cigarette, negligently stopping ask on the road below his window.

“He’s watching,” Chester says.

“He’s a lookout?”

We’re both thinking the same.  A crime is being committed.  They’ve scoped the street for an unattended house, a rarity for obvious reasons, though these days robbers rob the house while you’re still in it.

We wait.  Three minutes later the other man comes running very quickly to the car, jumps in and they drive off very quickly before the man had closed the door.

Seconds later another man appears with a baseball bat in his hand.

“Close call,” Chester says, interest now waning.  He jumps down.  “Pity they didn’t catch the robber.”

Perhaps.  But one thing is for sure, those robbers will not be back.

Diversion over, back to boredom.  Chester has gone back to one of his hiding spots.  I’m going to do another crossword.

Six months is going to be a long, long, long, long time.

Meanwhile at the railway station…

This was going to be about my usual taxi run, picking up one or other of the grandchildren from either school, or the railway station, to take them home, a benefit their parents have with grand parents with nothing better to do.

I say that tongue in cheek, because I usually have something else to do, but it is a pleasurable experience for either of us because it means we get to spend some time with our grandchildren while they are young, and before they discover that world out there that we ‘oldies’ would know nothing about.

I have no doubt there are times when they think we have past our use by date. It’s the bane of all old people sooner or later, unless they forge a close relationship with them in those early years.

I like to think we have, but you can never tell.

We’d like to be able to give them an independent ear, people who will listen to them and not judge, not in the way parents would. I remember myself saying that my parents would never understand the problems we had, that it was nothing like that when they were our age.

It’s the same now. The mantra never changes, but the generation has shifted, and I guess to a certain extent they are right. We didn’t have computers, mobile phones, or the endless supply of cash to go out with our friends to the mall, to the movies, to parties, sleep overs. We just didn’t have the money period, even if those activities existed in our time.

There wasn’t television, computer games, we had to find our own amusement, in the street, with other kids, using our imagination. We had to socially mix, talk to other kids, and there wasn’t the level of marriage breakups, broken homes, and distressed kids, not in our day. Divorce was a dirty word, spoken in hushed tones.

Now it seems homes with a mother and a father living together, or still talking to each other civilly, is a miracle rather than the norm. What the hell went wrong in 50 years? It seems to me that in the last 25 years we have presided over a world that has fallen to pieces, and, failing to recognise the looming disaster, we just sat by and watched it unfold.

And just how I managed to get so melancholy while waiting for a child at the railways station, I’ll never know. Perhaps it was the observance of several kids bullying another, perhaps it was because I sat in a locked car partially fearful about that trouble spilling over.

I know when I was a child my parents instilled in me a respect for others, even if I didn’t agree with them, or, god forbid, I didn’t like them. Like now, I get along with anyone and everyone because it was how we were taught.

Then.

What happened since then?

Did we forget slowly over time the virtue of tolerance and respect?

Fortunately the train, and my granddaughter has arrived, so I can cease with the rant. The children hassling each other had to run to the train and what might have been an unpleasant scene dissipated without violence.

She gets in the car, after I unlock the doors and it’s the start of a fifteen minute discussion about her day at school. It, too, is very different from my day, but, in it’s way, still the same battlefield between students and teachers.

At least some things never change.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 93

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160917_075223

This is Chester.  We’re getting by during the ‘stay at home’ order.

I’m doing just that, though it sometimes feels like I’m in jail, on the inside looking out.

“Now you know how I feel”, Chester tells me, after jumping up on the window ledge to look out the window, trying to see what had caught my interest.

I don’t tell him I’m basically staring into space.

Except, a car passes, not fast, not slow, but much like the rest of the traffic that passes by.  Or used to.  With the order to stay at home, and the fact schools are not open, there have been fewer and fewer cars passing by.

“Didn’t that car…” Chester mutters.

He’s right.  The same car just went back the other way.  Slow, but not too slow.

“Perhaps’s he’s looking for a house, a particular address.”

We watch and wait.

Five minutes later the car has returned and stops outside my window.  A man gets out the passenger side, says something to the driver, then closes the door.  He starts walking back up the street from where the car had just come.

The car drives off, then a minute later is back, and parks on the other side of the road.  We can see the driver.  Not the sort of person you’d want to need on a dark night.  Tattoos on his arm, and smoking a cigarette, negligently stopping ask on the road below his window.

“He’s watching,” Chester says.

“He’s a lookout?”

We’re both thinking the same.  A crime is being committed.  They’ve scoped the street for an unattended house, a rarity for obvious reasons, though these days robbers rob the house while you’re still in it.

We wait.  Three minutes later the other man comes running very quickly to the car, jumps in and they drive off very quickly before the man had closed the door.

Seconds later another man appears with a baseball bat in his hand.

“Close call,” Chester says, interest now waning.  He jumps down.  “Pity they didn’t catch the robber.”

Perhaps.  But one thing is for sure, those robbers will not be back.

Diversion over, back to boredom.  Chester has gone back to one of his hiding spots.  I’m going to do another crossword.

Six months is going to be a long, long, long, long time.

“What Sets Us Apart”, a mystery with a twist

David is a man troubled by a past he is trying to forget.

Susan is rebelling against a life of privilege and an exasperated mother who holds a secret that will determine her daughter’s destiny.

They are two people brought together by chance. Or was it?

When Susan discovers her mother’s secret, she goes in search of the truth that has been hidden from her since the day she was born.

When David realizes her absence is more than the usual cooling off after another heated argument, he finds himself being slowly drawn back into his former world of deceit and lies.

Then, back with his former employers, David quickly discovers nothing is what it seems as he embarks on a dangerous mission to find Susan before he loses her forever.

http://amzn.to/2Eryfth

whatsetscover

I would not want to be a car salesman!

Buying a new car is an experience most of us would regard as a chore at best and a waste of valuable time at worst.

It would be a lot easier if the salespeople actually treated you with the respect you deserved. The problem is, while most of them are polite and affable, underneath that seemingly ‘I’m your best friend’ countenance, is the I’m uttered words ‘ how much can I make from this deal’.

And that’s the truth of it.

It all comes down to money.

How much your willing to pay, and how much they can screw out of you.

Sorry, but after years and years of dealing with these people, I have built up considerable cynicism

But, once again, it’s time to go out into the shady underworld of car sales to get a new car, or as the case will be this time, a new SUV.

We don’t have a lot of money to spend this time, so the choices are going to be limited, and unlike years past when I could used the business to pay for a lease, and therefore watch the salesman load the price of the car to make it seem like we were getting more for our trade in than it was worth, this time it’s a straight cash transaction.

First thing we notice is that all the advertised prices are loaded for people buying with finance. So, we said there’s no trade in, and we’re paying cash, and they say the price is the same.

Liars.

We haven’t event got out of the block, and they’re barefaced lying to us.

We have a short list of three. All three when approached with no trade in, pay by cash deal said it wouldn’t affect the price.

A good enough reason to just walk away, but that had the effect of getting, at the very least, their attention. Never seen a salesman yet who would let a customer just walk away.

OK, So now we know there is some movement on the price. Not much, but it’s a start.

First car is a Honda CRV. In reality there’s really only a few models truly equating to basic, better, best, and top of the range. Prices run from 28000 to 50000 before the dealer starts loading the price with imaginary costs like the ubiquitous dealer delivery charge, otherwise known as guaranteed profit.

Whatever else the salesman can bluff out of the customer adds to his commission and the unwritten profit margin per car that’s been set by the manager.

You can always tell who the manager is, he’s the one all the sales people go to when pretending to discuss any further allowances in the prices to the advantage of the customer.

Its more likely a discussion about the footy picking competition, if it’s winter, or the next cricket match if it’s summer.

Sometimes they’ll find a few dollars or thrown in a freebie, but most times there’s no change.

That’s when you walk.

It’s where you discover that their so-called best prices us nothing like what they can do if it means losing a sale. Or not.

You have to be prepared to walk away, especially if there’s no prospect of a better deal, and even if that’s the car you want. There are other dealers.

There are also other cars. I’ve found it’s not a good idea to get hooked on one particular car. It’s why we have a shortlist of three. I could live with any one of them.

The Honda people are affable, the salesman shows us the car, gives an little talk about the features, and we go for a test drive.

It fits the criteria, and has a few bells and whistles, like the screen, and safety features. The cost to get those bells and whistles might be too much.

We go then to see the Rav4.

First thing we learn, that Toyota is the biggest car company in the world, and the largest seller of vehicles in the world

Relevance?

Well I suppose that’s meant to make us feel better about the car, that Toyota wouldn’t be the biggest and best if they sold crummy cars.

Not buying it. Any car manufacturer can make a lemon, and happily sell it to an unsuspecting purchase.

We get a run down of the car on a large interactive t.v. screen. It certainly had the features were looking for, has the same 4 types of models, and roughly the same pricing.

The test drive proved that it met our on road requirements. Similar pricing to the Honda, a like the previous dealer, not a lot of room to move on price, surprise surprise, but one more advantage, fixed price servicing that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

The third contender is a Nissan X Trail. The same model structure but with a slight difference, there’s a special on, giving the second top model a little more incentive to buy. Still, at 40000 it’s more than we were expecting to pay.

But..

The first experience with sales is not only disappointing, it was unprofessional. Never have someone on the floor who apparently knows nothing about the products being sold.

I walk out.

My wife doesn’t, mainly because one of the real salesmen had noticed the problem, and wasn’t going to let a sale slip through his fingers.

He does know his stuff, and the sales experience is one of the best we’ve had.

But…

Still can’t get past the first impression.

So after spending about 4 hours on the road in the various cars, it’s time to made a decision.

Or not.

Perhaps it’s time to simply think about it.

My preference was for the Nissan X-trail but it’s remarkable how a bad experience in a car dealership can put you off. Now it’s back to one of the three.

In order to make an informed decision I think we need to look at the basic model and it’s bottom line features.

In that regard, The Rav4 wins hands down.

So, we’re going with the Rav4, and back to the dealership for round two.