Always Worth Saying’s Car Review

Part One, Prelude

Always Worth Saying, Going Postal
As if a plastic, metal and rubber spouse.
Automotive storage facility,
Peter Broomfield
Unsplash Licence

Prelude? Yes, prelude. The Honda Prelude? No. The type of prelude that the dictionary reveals as an action or event serving as an introduction to something more important. Let me begin.

The marketing gurus ask us to visualise our relationship with a product or service as if a person. Puffins may recall Adam and Jane from a six-year-long BT campaign. You are Jane, the sensible but technologically challenged mature adult. Your telecoms are a pleasant relationship with the unruly but likeable Tom. There is nothing to stress about. Pay your monthly and leave it all to Tom.

The subject of this review is your spouse as if turned to metal, plastic and rubber. You love them. At times you are excited by them. However, as with many a spouse, they can be irritating beyond belief. But first, more prelude.

Regular readers will be aware that during the pandemic your humble reviewer elevated himself to a self-defined necessary, essential, vital, vulnerable worker who was therefore able to rent for a pittance from abandoned car hire outlets. Abandoned by customers that is, there was no shortage of boxes with a wheel in each corner.

Somebody has to review Question Time and, as you know to your cost, QT Review HQ never sleeps. If this humble reviewer feels the necessity to throw a nice car around empty Lake District roads before and after his Thursday night torture, can you begrudge him?

A recent invitation led me back to Mr Thrifty’s high-class establishment that borders our local bypass and sits opposite the Mercedes franchise. Why not use my car I hear you ask? Because I’ve wrecked it, that’s why. Thirty years of safe and generally happy motoring came to an end during the recent stormy weather. Hit by a low-flying trampoline, no less.

The fool at Number 5 didn’t secure the outsized family bouncy and it struck my car in the tempest. As you have probably already guessed, I’m the fool at Number 5. The buck stops here, rather like a big blue trampoline might come to a halt embedded in a Volkswagen. In my defence, it was weighed down by concrete blocks. It was just so windy.

Despite my insistence that this was an Act of God, the insurance company insisted it wasn’t. According to the operator of the computer-that-always-says-no, it was a ‘fault accident’. The fault, like the car, being owned by myself. The fact that I can’t help the weather let alone global warming (assuming you believe in such a thing) doesn’t count. What does count, is that I’m obliged to secure a trampoline and/or park the car somewhere safe when a severe weather warning is in place.

Am I the only Puffin beginning to suspect these never-ending severe weather warnings, most of which end in a whimper rather than a large child’s toy through the car, are for the benefit of the insurance companies rather than the poor old consumer?

Anyway, there goes my no-claims bonus. Plus, next year’s premium will be a lot more than £92.50. Yes, that’s £92.50 a year, or £7.70 a month. The average driver finds more in loose change down the back of the sofa every four weeks than it costs me to insure the car.

Thrilled to bits I reminded everybody I met at every opportunity of my prurience/good fortune. If you’ve been approached in the street by a total stranger who stopped you and asked, ‘Awfully sorry, new to the area, just wondering how much your car insurance is?’ and then ran off laughing and shouting ‘Sucker!’ (even if you pay £7.80 a month) then you know who you were talking to. You also know the stranger recently received a well-deserved comeuppance.

Always Worth Saying, Going Postal
A well-deserved comeuppance.
© Always Worth Saying 2024, Going Postal

Part of the reason it was £7.70 a month is because I didn’t pay to protect my no-claims bonus. Feel free to laugh louder and shout ‘Sucker!’ with more gusto. Telling the tale for one last time before my premium rockets, Mr Thrifty replied his daughter’s is over £200 a month. Although too modest to say so, one assumes Mr Thrifty’s girl to be a mine clearance rally-car driver with a serious nervous tic who passed her test yesterday.

Friends tell me I should claw something back with a claim for whiplash. Sitting on the front drive in my car during a storm waiting for a trampoline strike? Might be worth a try. I’ll keep you posted.

Those of you with a mildly autistic interest in meteorological records will already have twigged this happened on a Saturday evening in January during storm Isha. Was it National Coincidence Day? Only hours later, my insurance changed. Disaster struck at six thirty, the insurance expired at a minute to midnight – a one in three hundred and sixty-five chance.

No matter, no need to bother them. It’ll be cheaper to get it repaired ex-insurance. At first, in the dark and the storm, I didn’t realise it had been damaged. I was too busy looking for the missing trampoline having heard a noise and then gone out into the garden after wrapping myself in a coat and scarf.

Expecting to see a flower pot on its side, I was startled to notice our trampoline was in the next-door neighbour’s garden. I dragged it back in the gale. Not an easy task. With the help of Mrs AWS, it was cut it up in situ to stop it from blowing away again. The fabric was shredded and stuffed into a hedge. Days later I was chatting over the same hedge while trying not to look sheepish. ‘Found springs in your front garden, Alan? What a wind, eh? Could have blown from anywhere, probably from another parish.’

Not a big enough coincidence? The ding dong occurred as myself and Mrs AWS were curled up on the settee in front of Netflix watching ‘Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga’ just as ‘Jaja Ding Dong’ part-drowned out the noise of the storm. As every Puffin knows, ‘Fire Saga’ is a 2020 Eurovisojn Song Contest-themed musical comedy by director David Dobkin starring Will Ferrell and Rachael MacAdams. As well as featuring the catchy ‘Jaja Ding Dong’ the soundtrack also includes the Oscar-nominated ‘Husavik’.

Still not a big enough coincidence? Read on.

Is there an Icelandic proverb that one’s life passes before one seconds before your car is wrecked by a trampoline? There should be. As coincidence, piles upon coincidence, Icelandic Eurovision performer Greta Salóme is a friend. We get to meet once in a while, usually while passing through the VIP lounge at Keflavik. Housepoints deducted from Puffins who thought recently published postcards from Icelandic airports contained someone else’s photos and the wordsmithery of my apprentice Mr AI Bot. Tut Tut, shame on you. Or tot, tot, skammastu þín, as they say in Iceland.

Greta sends her regards. You know her from the Icelandic entries which she sang in 2012 and 2016. More cultured Puffins will have heard her perform violin with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

While on the subject of famous people who I sort of know, Mme Veronique, every Puffins’ favourite French film star, has been in touch. She assures us in a Gallic rush that she is safe. ‘Sûre! Sûre!’ she gasps via instant messanger. In these days of vibrant, diverse multicultural harmony, why would a Romanian-heritage resident of enriched and inclusive Paris – whose family had to flee wartime Bucharest to escape the SS – fear for her safety? (((Careful now))). Strange gal.

Always Worth Saying, Going Postal
Invisible mend.
© Always Worth Saying 2024, Going Postal

Meanwhile, back in a Debatable Lands front garden, a trillion pieces of glass have to be picked out of a vegetable patch. Yes, I’m one of those irritating people who had his strawberries, two rows of winter unions and space for next summer’s peas in the land of wheelie bins and pavements.

As for a new driver’s side front window, Autoglass quoted £600, a local trader £250. He got the gig. Covered with a bin liner held secure with Christmas stickie tape, I struck out for a trading estate on the other side of town. After joshing about my invisible repair, myself and the artisan looked at each other and thought the same thing at the same time.

What if, beneath the stickie pictures of Santa and the elves, the window frame is bent? Sure enough, it was, bigly. Not being able to insert a new pane of glass, this became an insurance job involving panel beating or even a new door. While on the phone to the insurance company, they insisted I have another good look. The roof was bent too. Oh dear.

There are only so many damaged panels before a car is written off. To keep the insurance down to £7.70 a month, my valuation had been somewhat on the low side. A life of buses beckoned. To keep the insurance down to £7.70 a month, I’d downgraded my risk from an on-call travelling gentleman engaged in a life of derring-do to a part-time, semi-retired, self-employed flower arranger working from home. Do they investigate such things? I might not even be able to afford the bus.

Salvation was at hand. As I put the phone down, at the behest of a trusting insurance company, a low loader drew up to deliver a courtesy car and take away mine. One wonders what they do for those who pay a monthly £8 or £9. Not only that, the postman arrived carrying an embossed invitation. As the coincidence mercury rose as far north as Iceland, the invitation was to an irestable evening in the company of Miss Greta Salome.

The courtesy car being a seven-pounder and the event being rather far away, one felt obliged to trouble Mr Thrify for something a bit more sporty.

To be continued…

© Always Worth Saying 2024