I can still remember picking it up from GT Hendersons garage in Banbridge. There was a little ramp up to get out the gate from their forecourt and onto the road. And I remember nearly stalling the car as I revved it to get up and out. The joy of adapting to a new car. A trick that now seems second nature given the number of hire cars that I drive away from airports around the UK.
The deal was that we’d trade in the Polo for a second hand Ford from Lindsay’s. It was ex-fleet, with an English registration. So they volunteered to switch it to a local number when they taxed it.
To get a tax certificate, you need valid insurance. So we got a cover note from the good folk at Hughes under the English reg. The dealer taxed the car, got a new registration number, and made the plates.
We phoned on Tuesday to get the new registration number. The showroom didn’t know. We phoned again on Wednesday. Not that someone couldn’t have walked outside the showroom to read the new reg off the plates screwed on to the front of the car :(
They finally rang back after 5pm. Although we waited in the queue to be answered by Hughes, they switched off their phone system and went home for the night before they got around to answering. So we couldn’t get the insurance switched to the new NI plates.
So Wednesday evening was a surreal experience as I drove the Polo around the corner to Lindsays, handed the keys across, paid up, moved Littl’un’s car seat across into the new car, and then walked home. Without insurance for the right registration number, it didn’t seem worth testing the understanding of the insurers and chancing moving the car off the forecourt. Yet, cover for the Polo had also expired at 6.30pm.
Oh, and Lindsays hadn’t found the car’s second key yet. Where have I heard that before? Oh, yes. The company car that took several weeks to arrange for a second key to be procured and correctly programmed.
Cheryl went around first thing the next morning, Thursday. The original plan of her getting the bus into Belfast had fallen apart, and now she needed to drive in and deposit Littl’un with Granny. Got the key – no second key had been found – and got through to the Hughes to switch the insurance. and was about to leave, when they went off to find the mats that had been thrown in with the final deal. Took an age, so she had to go on to get into town, park, hand over daughter, and get to a conference. All a bit of a rush, and somewhere between locking the car, attending the conference, getting lunch and doing a pile of interviews, the key disappeared. In the rush, it hadn’t been added to her key ring. And now it was nearly seven and no where to be found.
Spires was now locked up. No sign on the pavements. No one had handed it into the police – apparently no one does and they sometimes just get binned. And no spare key.
By the time we got up to Lindsays, it was a quarter to eight. But they open late on Thursday nights. I’d been there about this time last Thursday – when I spied the bargain car. But all locked up. Chains on the doors. They’d gone home early.
So tonight our new (second hand) car is parked in Belfast, with no way of getting into it, never mind moving it.
Several things will happen in the morning. Spires will be getting a call to see if they’ve found one on the floor (and if necessary I’ll be driving down to search under the chairs where it might have been set down).
And Lindsay cars will be getting an early visit to see if they’ve found the second key.
If not, given that they haven’t completed their side of the sale, and their inability to hand over the second key has caused the car to become trapped, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that I ask them to find the second key by Monday, or else supply an insured courtesy car until they locate it. Either that or I should charge them £100 a day until they can complete the deal. After all, I paid up on Wednesday, and their inability to tell us the registration number started this whole saga.
Oh, and about lunchtime, we fly over to England for the weekend. At least we can cadge a lift to the airport – given that we don’t all fit into a silly two-seater Smart! Arghh.