Rov in g Repor ter
“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.