Among some of the many cars that I have owned was a Citroen Xantia. It was cheap second-hand, and it needed to be. Ghastly is the first word that springs to mind; followed by atrocious and awful.

Actually it was OK as cheap transport and fulfilled a need at the time, but with the hydro-pneumatic suspension it is the only car I have ever driven that made me feel car sick.

The brakes were suspect too. They worked OK most of the time but as they were hydro pneumatic just occasionally they seemed to not respond to an urgent push. The garage could find no fault, and it happened so rarely, but I am convinced that they were the cause of a minor bump I had at a mini roundabout. I was coming down a short steep hill to this roundabout, doing about 20mph when I realised that I had misjudged the route of a VW Polo already there. I shoved on the brakes and for a sickening moment nothing happened… I hit her just on the back wing, the merest tickle. There was no visible damage to my car, and the Polo suffered a slight dent in the wheel arch and considering the age and state of the rest of car, an almost invisible blemish.

Well the girl driver, aged around twenty four or five was hysterical, wailing and crying, demanding police presence and pleading with uninterested passer bys to incriminate me as a reckless speeding hooligan. The police did indeed show up and after taking a few details decided that the girl was emotionally incapable of driving her self home, but no notice of prosecution was given by them to either of us.

I got a call from the father some days later with an embellished story about my major accident, how his daughter was very distressed and that the Polo was written off. He wanted me to pay for a new one, I suggested our respective insurance companies if he believed the damage to be that bad, and so we reached a stalemate. In the end I told him to push off.