Rov in g Re­por ter

Land Rover Monthly - - Contents - Thom West­cott is a Bri­tish free­lance jour­nal­ist who has writ­ten for the Times and Guardian, and now mostly spends her time re­port­ing from Libya

“Your de­liv­ery guys il­le­gally move my ve­hi­cle, parked legally, yet it’s my fault. Are you for real?”

On my first morn­ing back in Eng­land, I stroll up a steep sea­side hill to take my lovely Light­weight for a spin. Step­ping out of the lo­cal Spar shop, chilled latte in hand, I glance up to where I thought I left the Light­weight. It is not there. Or rather, it is not quite there. Sev­eral me­tres fur­ther up the hill, the peel­ing paint­work of its roof is clearly vis­i­ble above other cars, in­clud­ing one oc­cu­py­ing my orig­i­nal park­ing space.

“What the f***?” I ex­pos­tu­late. It was a few months back, but I am cer­tain I left it parked in the end-bay near­est the Spar shop. I stride on­wards and dis­cover it is now parked both badly and il­le­gally, at an ab­surd an­gle with two wheels on the pave­ment. Both doors are un­locked, the driver’s lock slightly dam­aged, but the in­te­rior is al­ways so chaotic it would be hard to tell if any­thing had been stolen. I walk around it per­plexed. It would be more com­pre­hen­si­ble if some­one who wanted that space had re­leased the hand­brake and rolled it down to­wards the Spa shop rather than pushed it up what is a rather steep hill.

I ap­proach builders work­ing on a roof nearby. “Hey, ran­dom ques­tion, but have you seen any­one move that Land Rover?” I ask. A ru­bi­con-faced chap rubs his hair. “Well, yes ac­tu­ally. It was parked down there but then we turned up one day and most of the cars here were gone and that Land Rover had been moved.” He adds that the per­pe­tra­tors were prob­a­bly lorry driv­ers de­liv­er­ing new static caravans to a clifftop park.

I no­tice an old chap tend­ing flower beds near the Light­weight and, hop­ing he spends most days in the garden, I take my ques­tions to him. “Oh aye,” he says gravely. “I saw the whole thing. It was them car­a­van park peo­ple. T’was about a week ago now, and they were de­liv­er­ing them new caravans that are far too wide for these roads, too wide for the trucks even, and they couldn’t get past ’cos of that there Land Rover. So the lads hopped out, found it wasn’t locked and pushed it out the way.” I tell him that it had been locked. “Oh dear, well they said it weren’t,” he says.

Af­ter pho­tograph­ing the Light­weight’s road po­si­tion from ev­ery an­gle, in case some park­ing penalty or po­lice en­quiry turns up in the let­ter box, I mo­tor on up to the car­a­van park.

Firm but amenable, I ask for the man­ager and am given the sales man­ager, a fel­low in his early 30s. I ex­plain the in­ci­dent and he stares at me. “No, no, that wouldn’t have been one of our de­liv­ery guys,” he as­sures me. “Well, I’m afraid it was, since this road only leads to your car­a­van park,” I say. “And a lo­cal res­i­dent told me he saw the car­a­van de­liv­ery driv­ers push­ing my Land Rover up the hill, to move it out the way.” He asks when it was, then leafs through pa­per­work in a mean­ing­less fash­ion.

“Where did you say you were parked?” he asks. I re­peat the name of the road. “Ahhh,” he says, with sud­den clar­ity. “A lot of peo­ple park badly on that road.” Shock and in­dig­na­tion ris­ing, I say coldly: “I beg your par­don?” He smirks. “You can’t park on both sides, it makes the road very nar­row,” he says. “I live round there and bad park­ing causes loads of prob­lems for lo­cal res­i­dents and de­liv­ery vans.”

I stare coldly at him. “I al­ways park legally on the pub­lic high­way, which my road tax en­ti­tles me to do.” He smiles pa­tro­n­is­ingly. “Yes, well, there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween park­ing legally and park­ing con­sid­er­ately.” I am qui­etly fu­ri­ous. “So, your de­liv­ery guys il­le­gally move my ve­hi­cle, yet it’s my fault, even though I was parked legally. Are you for real?” He shifts un­com­fort­ably in his seat. I ask for the names and num­bers of the de­liv­ery firms. He does not oblige.

“Look, we’re not re­ally get­ting any­where here. I’d bet­ter speak to the man­ager,” I say, firmly. “But I’m the sales man­ager, so I deal with the caravans,” he says. “Well, you’re not re­ally deal­ing with this ef­fec­tively, so I need the man­ager,” I in­sist. He re­luc­tantly rises. Out­side the of­fice, he pauses. “I need to see ex­actly where you were parked,” he says. I nod. “And I need to speak to the wit­ness.” I am in­can­des­cent with fury and in­credulity. “Who do you think you are, the po­lice?” I ask. He looks taken aback and dis­ap­pears off, re­turn­ing five min­utes claim­ing he couldn’t find the man­ager. I ask him how we pro­ceed.

“We’re not re­spon­si­ble for the ac­tions of de­liv­ery driv­ers,” he says weakly. “Fine. So I need the name of your de­liv­ery firms,” I re­peat. “And of course the name of the man­ager.” He re­sent­fully shuf­fles pa­per­work again and I note down the de­tails with de­lib­er­ately painstak­ing ac­cu­racy.

Hav­ing been thrown into a worse tem­per by this man than by the in­ci­dent, my planned leisure drive is one of rage. But, de­spite my fury, I have a mod­icum of grudg­ing re­spect for the guys who pushed the Light­weight up that hill, al­though hope­fully they felt the strain of their en­deav­ours for a good few days af­ter.

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