Sunday afternoon I dropped the girlfriend off at her mums and set off to B&Q Doncaster to buy the long 5mm screws I'd need to attach the 70mm fill housing on an RV (much thicker body than a car) on Tuesday. Entering Doncaster from the North, I'd forgotten about the road works on the new bridge and associated traffic problems.
A Police car passed going the opposite way as I approached the roundabout just before the bridge, thought nothing of it, seeing the standing traffic on old bridge (the diversion) I went all the way around the roundabout to head North intending to avoid the traffic jam and get to B&Q from the M18 instead (should have gone that way in the first place). But checking mirrors I noticed same police car was now behind me and I was pulled just after the exit from the roundabout. 'Is this your vehicle sir'. 'Yes'. 'How long have you owned it'. '2 Years'. 'Your car is showing as not insured sir'. 'Ahh, I do have insurance, trade policy, documents here in the glove-box'. By this time he has moved to the passenger side open window and is going through paperwork etc as I get it out the glovebox. 'I've never known a trade policy cost £156' he says. 'You've picked my boat insurance docs up from the seat while I'm still looking for my trade policy in the glovebox' I told him. 'Here's my trade policy, I wish it did only cost £156 a year!' I said.
'OK sir come and have a sit in the back of my car while I check your documents'. 'Have you ever been in bother with Police before'. I'm always a bit uncomfortable with this standard comment as it kind of implies you are in trouble with police now, but I didn't say what was on the tip of tongue, which would have been 'No, and I'm not in trouble with police now either'. Just politely said 'No'.
10 Minutes later and he had managed to get in touch with the broker, but (and none surprisingly on a Sunday afternoon) he couldn't get in touch with my insurers. 'Your car isn't on the insurance database' he says. 'Ahh, well it was, I specifically made sure it was on my policy but, thinking about it, that was before I renewed it with the same company and I haven't specifically asked them to include it on the database since'. 'Well, if you have a car for more than 2 weeks you must put it on the database'. 'I know that, and I did, but not since renewing the policy. In fact the insurer asked if I wanted the same vehicles as before entering on the database and I said Yes' I said. 'Well thats not my fault is it' he said. 'No, but nevertheless I am insured aren't I?' I said. No reply, so at this point I'm wondering if he's going to impound my car... 'No MOT either!' he says... 'Huh, I thought my MOT was due at the end of August, an oversight on my part, I'm glad you've let me know and if you give me a producer I'll get it tested this week...' I said. 'You cannot test your own cars! Your MOT ran out a few weeks ago' he said. I'm thinking I never said I would test my own car, and that things are looking bleak!'When was the last time you had a drink?'. 'One can with a curry last night 9pm, nothing will show on your machine'. 'Breathe into this.. yeah nothing showing, that's good'. He spends the next few minutes filling forms in and answering phone txt messages and only then does it become clear he's going to let me go on my way. 'This is a fine for £100 for the lapsed MOT, I will be checking with your insurers tomorrow and would suggest you get in touch with them before I do. How do you pay for your road tax?'. 'Paid it for the full year in August last year just before the new tax system came in'. I said. 'Well I will be passing your details to DVLA just in case' he says. He explained how to pay the fine and smiled while explaining the bit where it grows by £50 if you don't pay in time, puts the back window down and tells me to let myself out using the outside handle. 'OK thanks, I'll pay the fine and get it on the database tomorrow. Don't I get a producer for the MOT or anything?' I said. 'No, that's it' he says.
I do keep my cars in good safe condition but then working on own cars comes after working on customer vehicles.. Being an auto, I have been unconcerned about the handbrake mechanism not pulling on the handbrake cable when applied for the last 6 months, but have made sure lighting, suspension, steering and other braking components have been right and looked after the engine / box. The most recent thing I know needs to be done is a bit of play on the offside inner track rod joint, meaning I will need to change the rack, which is fair old job on this model. I have 2 of the same car but having already nicked the petrol ECU, radiator and a caliper from the other, I now intend to nick it's rack for this car and then scrap the other.
Presented car for MOT today and told the MOT guy that my only concern was the bit of play on the rack but son was busy removing a replacement rack from the other car as we spoke... implying I was half expecting a fail, but would be back tomorrow for the free retest... This guy knows me and knows what I do, knows my cars are well maintained. After the test he handed me the pass cert telling me 'I've just put an advisory on about the rack'.
A long time ago I had my own car impounded by a young cop who believed trade policies only allow you to drive other peoples vehicles.. Even though my car was on the database and he read my policy which said I could drive any vehicle owned by me! I had been doing some welding through the day and got a bit of stag eye. After visiting my daughter my eyes were stinging worse than earlier, sunglasses helped but I decided to pull into a car park and wait until the setting sun (hurting my eyes) went down. Police car pulled in and they were asking people what they were doing etc, I thought nothing of it, I'll tell them why I'm here. One officer approached me, checked my docs and said 'Well thar's fine, you can go'... 'Not really with my eyes mate!'. I told him.. Then another police car pulled in and started going around everyone again even though first police car was still there. Second car brought the young cop who thought my policy didn't cover me. 'But your colleague has already seen me, checked my docs and told me I can go' I said. I called first cop over and asked him to explain to young cop what had happened. 'Well yes I suppose but he is in traffic and I'm not' he said. 'I'll tell you what, if that's the way it's going to be and I get my car impounded for no reason I'll be making a complaint to your gaffer - about you for being such a wet flannel and you for being such an arrogant young cop in the wrong'. Was fuming as they took my car with some work gear still in the boot and did complain to the seargent. Attended a meeting with sergeant at the station, apparently the young cop would have come but was off sick. He did get put on report and I got all costs refunded.
On another occasion I had just repaired son's Corsa's LPG system and killed two birds with one stone by visiting daughter in it while using the journey to calibrate the LPG system and test drive. Again accused of no insurance, this time covered on 2 policies, my own policy plus as a named driver on sons policy. Was probably stopped as the car was a Corsa and owner on logbook 17 years old. Got the summons through- do I want to plead guilty, accept the points and fine but not have to go to court, or plead not guilty and have to attend court.. Pleaded not guilty, had to wait all day at court, at the last minute (I had got as far as inside the court room in front of magistrates awaiting case to open) a WPC beckoned me back outside and told me the case was dropped! By this point I was disappointed, really ready to make my case..
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