Alexander Averin

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

On Cars and the Pope

Dear Diary,

Some mornings you hear things on the Radio 4 Today programme which cheer you.  Not often!   Today there were two items close together:  firstly Rhydian Brook  was speaking on Thought for the Day and then there was a news item which made my ears prick up.

Regarding Pope Francis and a Renault 4.

The text in italics I have copied from The Guardian.

Pope Francis has been given a Renault 4 to drive. Apparently he  plans to drive around Vatican City at the wheel of a popemobile that is a lot like him: frugal, clad in white and with a fair bit of mileage.

The 1984 Renault 4 with 186,000 miles on the clock was given to him by a 70-year-old priest from northern Italy, Father Renzo Zocca, who took the pope for a spin inside the walls of the tiny city-state.

"I think the pope will drive it a bit himself inside the Vatican," the Holy See's deputy spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, said on Thursday.

After the pope appealed to priests several months ago not to drive expensive cars but to save money and give it to the poor, Zocca wrote him a letter saying he had used the same car for decades and wanted to give it to the pope as a symbolic gift.

Last weekend Zocca brought the car, along with some of his parishioners, to the Vatican, where the pope told him he knew how to drive it because he had had a Renault 4 in Argentina.

Francis, who as a cardinal in Buenos Aires travelled by subway, has shown a predilection for simple means of transport ever since his election in March as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.

On the night of his election he shunned the bulletproof papal Mercedes limousine and rode in a minibus with the cardinals who had chosen him to lead the Roman Catholic church.

During his trip to Brazil in July he was driven around Rio de Janeiro in a small silver Fiat at his own request, and when he visited a refugee centre in Rome on Tuesday he used a Ford Focus from the Vatican's car pool.

Francis has shunned the spacious and luxurious papal apartments used by his predecessors and has opted to live in a small suite in a Vatican guesthouse.

Why was I so pleased to hear this you may ask?  Firstly because I couldn’t  agree more with the Pope (never thought I would type those words!).  Also because back in the mists of time we owned a Renault 4, it was also pure white and we put transfers of loads of colourful flowers on the side (it was the 1970’s); it was also a VAN and so it had no windows in the back.  It was M’s second Renault 4 and my first.   M put carpet in which made it quiet (not that it was noisy) and made comfy seating arrangements so that the dogs, camping equipment etc could be thrown in the back.  I am proud of the fact that I passed my driving test in this van, it had a funny gearstick as did the much-loved Citroen 2CV.

My first love in cars is the Citroen 2CV.  We have owned several of those over the years and I still covet one, they are a joy to drive and the best looking car ever in my opinion. 

I also love these.

And lately I rather covet one of these, a new Fiat 500 but not in red (I know a special person who may be reading these words who owns one in a most perfect shade of green!).  I see the Pope also likes these cars.


I won’t tell you here what car we do own  -   for privacy reasons  -   but suffice it to say my daughter once referred to them as ‘invalid carriages!’.  I call it a van with windows.  If you really want to know what it is then email me.
Anyway what car (or any other mode of transport) do you covet or think fondly of?
Do tell.
Bye for now,

Go mbeannai Dia duit,




Pondside said...

Over the years we've owned two Westfalias, and I'd love to have one again.
Good for the Pope. So far he has shown himself to be a bit of a papal trend-setter.

Mac n' Janet said...

Our first car was a Volkswagen Beetle, followed by several other Volkswagens. In the 80's I had a Yugo, Mac got his first Mazda, an RX-7 and it's been Mazdas ever since, he has a Miata, I have a Mazda 3.
But if I could have any car I'd have a BMW Z-3

Marianne said...

I do warm to Pope Francis! I love the red Fiat 500 you mentioned but my personal favourite was a long wheel base landrover I used to drive when the children were small, until I wrote it off that is!

Fennie said...

I've always wanted a red Alfa Romeo but I can't justify having one. I don't really like driving anyway and do as little as possible. We have an old Picasso which is brilliant when it comes to transporting furniture, lawnmowers, people and is also economical.

Pam said...

I bought a Morris Minor to escape my first disastrous marriage. I left triumphant with a back-firing exhaust trailing white smoke! (you can't pack much in a Morris Minor so others helped me later with the big shift).
My later accomplice to days of freedom and adventure (further study and first teaching job in the country) was a Volkswagen Beetle.
In later years with my second husband and little daughter we had a series of Austin 1800's.
Daughter and I were waiting in one of them when husband was at a Catholic school interviewing for a teaching job. She looked at a statue there, mitred and robed, and said "Is that the Poke?". This 'Poke' seems like his heart is in the right place.

Nan said...

I am actually very fond of my new VW Jetta. :<) Four doors, a treat!

Relyn Lawson said...

My first car was nothing special, certainly not as nice or nearly as reliable as my current car. Still. I've never loved a car as much as I loved my first, Ralph.

A late 70s Chevette.

A Cuban In London said...

He also wants to welcome gays into the Catholic fray. Go figure! By this time next year he might have grown a beard and call himself Fidel Castro version 2.0.

I like Renaults but my soft spot was always a VW, the Beetle type. I still hope to buy one some day. In the meantime our Nissan ain't half bad, I tell you! :-)

Greetings from London.

Elizabeth Wix said...

Dear Cait,
Pope Francis really does seem to be bringing a breath of fresh air to the moribund papacy.
I was brought up as the sort of Christian who had to practice the second commandment - to love one's neighbor as oneself ( very hard sometimes!)
So having a modest car seems the way to go!

My fist car was a puke green second hand 124 Fiat sedan in which I once sopped up some sort of engine fluid with a nappy....
we currentlydon't own a car at all --but woulfd love one of the new little Fiats.

Friko said...

The best loved car was Beloved’s ancient SAAB: Black with tan leather seats. When we had to give it up (it became too expensive to repair) it started a new life as a car in a TV cop show.

Now I have a very cheap but reliable Skoda. I don’t much like it but it goes.

Shannon Baker said...

It sounds like an interesting series. I will check it out

book publicist