What’s wrong with second-hand cars?

I walked to work during the tube strike. Well, in two spurts: I walked to Waterloo, did my stuff at the gym, then walked on to Fleet Street. I’m not a fast walker, but the Elephant & Castle to Waterloo stretch took me less time than it usually takes by tube.

Granted, from street level to the platform at the start is roughly a third of a mile. Likewise, I reckon from the platform to street level at the end is another third.

Then there’s the hanging around for three to four minutes before the train leaves. Plus, it goes west to Lambeth North before it veers north to Waterloo, whereas the street-level walk is more direct. Apart from a couple of roundabouts, it’s north-west in a straight line. So we’re not comparing like with like.

Anyway, it got me thinking: if I can walk door to door in less time (22 minutes) than it takes by tube (27 minutes), maybe I should walk more often.

To see how much I’d save, I checked Transport for London’s website. On the way, I landed on Rolls-Royce’s home page. I can’t remember why.

And there one of the menus read ‘Pre-owned’. Second hand by any other name but pre-owned at RR. Looking at other sites – Bentley, Porsche, BMW – it cropped up again. Look at Mini’s site, though, and it’s good-old ‘Used’. Which along with second hand sounds more like people speak.

Digging deeper, I found out that pre-owned became the norm in high-end car marketing more than a decade ago. But I’ve never heard it spoken.

‘Nice car.’

‘Thanks, it’s pre-owned. But you’d never have guessed, would you?’

It doesn’t sound right; it doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as, say, ‘Thanks, it’s second hand …’

The same applies to nearly new. Again, to my ear it sounds like something old with a few new parts. Even ‘once-used’ sounds better than pre-owned. (And there’s pre-loved.)

So what’s next? What’s the next word to be replaced for no good reason? Then I remembered I’d seen it.

Royal Wharf advert

Suites from £235,000

1 Beds from £335,000

2 Beds from £435,000 …

When did suites replace studios?

‘So your new flat, a one-bed or two?’

‘Oh, it’s a suite.’


Have you heard any others?

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