WHITE VAN MAN
Woke up late. I had sinned the night before and had sampled the McClelland to an extent which I now recognised as being a trifle excessive.
I realised that thus far I had done nothing to forward my plan to visit Sheffield and BDTBL for the Reading game so I phoned Weggie to arrange a meet. I got his voice mail and realised that he must still be in Poland. I was far too hungover to leave a message so I hung up.
Now, my regular readers will be aware, due to my penchant for gloating at all too frequent intervals, that my income allows me to lead a life here in central Europe that can best be described as carefree. I rarely have to check prices and should I be desirous of anything, I buy it. While this falls some way short of regular visits to the estate agents or Ferrari showrooms, it does mean that there is little which falls beyond my fiscal span as it were. All this changes as soon as I arrive in the UK.
Suddenly and painfully, I succumb to the realisation that I have to pay attention to the rate at which quantities of the folding disappear from both my wallet and my bank accounts. It is not as if I earn overmuch, you understand, it is more a question of prices. Pray allow me to enlighten you as to the expenses likely to be incurred by a visitor to say, Nagykanizsa, for example.
Bottle of Teacher’s scotch…less than a fiver.
40g pouch of Drum tobacco…about two quid.
Half litre bottle of Stella...35p
One night’s hotel accommodation…twenty five nicker.
Slap-up meal for four in best restaurant plus drinks (lots)…max fifty notes.
Even travelling through Europe, I do not have to be overly attentive to prices but as soon as I alight at Dover, I am only too aware that my most common exclamation for at least two weeks will be, "How much?!" Rip-off Britain indeed.
So it was, with an eye to saving a few spondoolies, that I decided to borrow my brother’s Ford Transit van and travel to Sheffield in it with a view to sleeping therein rather than pay an excessive amount of cash for a double room and ersatz English breakfast. There were, unfortunately, some problems involved with this. Apart from the fact that the van was chez nous and my brother wasn’t.
Firstly, the tax disc had expired. "No problem, bro’. I’ll take care of that." Zoom off to post office. "How much?!" Ninety-odd fucking quid, that’s how much.
Secondly, I was not a named driver on my bro’s insurance policy. He phones them, then rings me. "They won’t insure a non-UK resident on my policy." My bro lacks my devious mind, you see. "Ring them back, kid. I guarantee you won’t speak to the same person. Tell them I am, as of this moment, resident at the same address as is on my driving licence. Call me when it’s okay."
A few mins later and the phone rings.
"This is *garbled* of the NCB."
"*garbled* of the MCC."
"Uncy. Raul. MBB."
"Yoooooooooooooo! Jesus Christ! How ya doin’?"
And so it came to pass that an appointment was made to confront the full might of the MBB in the Nelson after the Reading game. I remembered the Nelson for ’twas there that I would meet Allison, somebody else’s girlfriend, but I was of an age not to be so fussy and, come to think of it, I still am.
Bro phones. Alles gut. Another 17 quid down the spout for an added name.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes.
Thirdly, and most problematically, bro, bro’s bane and van had just returned from a two week sojourn in the south of France and my brother’s housekeeping skills, never excellent at the best of times, had not improved to any significant degree since last we had met. The van was a mess. It would need a thorough spring clean.
After wading through a three foot high pile of malodourous socks, sundry clothes and bed linen, I finally uncovered the air mattress, desperately in need of some air. I bunged everything into black plastic bin liners, sealed them for ’freshness’, washed the mattress, cut up what he had been using for a ground sheet, fitted it to the floor of the van and left the van doors open for the rest of the day.
Come the evening and the whiff had not entirely dissipated so I left the doors open all night an’ all. Bugger it, if any sod is brave enough to half-inch this fucker, they’re welcome to it.