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Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Misdemeanours of Mummy Plum

We were enjoying a gentle start to the morning. The promise of a good weather day as the morning sun started to stream through the kitchen windows. Pip was eating his porridge without any complaints, and my essential first cup of tea of the day, was starting to work it’s magic, the caffine cutting through the last hanging cobwebs of the previous night’s slumber.

Our peace and quiet was shattered by a loud persistent banging at the door, interspersed with random trills from the doorbell. I scanned the recesses of my mind for memories of online shopping sprees after a glass of wine. No, I’m not expecting anything, I thought.  So I contemplated leaving whoever it was to go away.  Except, whoever it was, didn’t want to go away, and by this time, Pip was getting rather excited about who could possibly be at the door making such a racket at this time in the morning.

Pyjama clad and sporting particularly bad bedheads, we made our way to the front door.  I tried to peek around the navy blue curtain that hangs in front of the clear glass door panes to try and see who was there, but whoever it was, had then moved backwards to lean against the side wall. All I could see was a boot and a trouser leg. Nothing for it then, I had to open the door.

It was Carl, the builder from over the road. (I was not pleased that someone I knew was seeing me in this state.)  He obviously sensed my embarrassment, because he prefaced his comment with “Sorry to knock so early....”

 “...... but your car’s about to be towed away.”

WHAT?  Still bleary eyed, I looked out to the road. There before me sat a DVLA tow truck with a crane atop, ready to winch my car off the public highway.  All thoughts of personal appearance out the window, I grabbed my keys and ran out into the road.  Mr Tow Truck was poised with his camera in front of my car, about to take a ‘before’ shot prior to getting down to the job in hand.

“What’s going on? I cried. "Why are you taking my car away?”
Carl the Builder helpfully pointed out: “ You’ve got no road tax.”
“Yes, Yes, I have. Look.” I pointed to the window.
“That tax disc expired in December”, said Tow Truck Man.

December? Suddenly I felt very confused. It was all slightly too much for my brain to comprehend at such an early time in the morning. My first thought. Where’s Pip?  He’s on the doorstep. Safe. Good. Now think, think. You must have renewed the tax disc, surely.  They’d have sent you a reminder. Did they? Did you get a reminder?  *Silent wailing*. I can’t remember.  Maybe it’s fallen behind some of the old ones in the disc holder. Get in the car. Check. Tax discs for the last 3 years, but not one for 2012.

Tow Truck man clearly thought I was grasping at straws flicking though years worth of old tax disks whilst in my PJ’s.

“ Listen love, the Police asked me to tow this vehicle away, they know from their computer that you haven’t got a disc.”

That seemed to make it quite official. I definitely hadn’t got one.  Tow Truck man’s sidekick started to manoeuvre the winch of the crane, the truck starting to make whirring noises.  I started to panic, thinking - my car is going to be impounded.

Carl the Builder pitched in again;  “Sit in the car. Then he can’t take it.” That seemed a semi helpful suggestion so I asked Tow Truck Man, (in the nicest fashion possible, to affirm if this would be the case.)

“ If I sit in the car, does that mean you can’t take it?”
Tow Truck Man said: “ You can sit in the car. And I’ll call the Police. They’ll be here in less than 15 minutes.”

No. No Police.  I noticed that the blinds next door had started twitching.  It’s always helpful in these situations to know that your misdemeanours are being observed by the neighbours.  It seems that the people next door take the concept of 'Neighbourhood Watch' quite literally.

“What can I do? I don’t want you to take my car.”
Carl the Builder - trying to be helpful again: “Go inside and renew your tax online...it will only take 5 seconds. I’ll sit in the car.”
Tow Truck Man: ‘Listen, I’ve been told to just take the car. If anyone sits in it, I’ll just call the cops”
Me: Pleading.. “Please don’t take the car...” (At this point I was starting to feel like a cast member filming a scene on Prisoners Wives.)

In the midst of the exchange, a wail erupted, like a claxon it silenced the hubbub.  We stopped and turned in its direction to see Pip watching from the doorstep; a stripy Iggle Piggle in his fluffy blue and black sleepsuit.  Tears ran down his little face as he confusedly watched the situation unfold, the body language of slightly aggressive Tow Truck Man,  of Carl, the anti-vigilante animatedly defending me, and panicky, stressed out mummy with bedraggled bed hair standing outside the house in her Pj’s trying to stop someone take the car away.

"Don't take Mummy's car" he sobbed, pointing at the vehicle with the crane poised over it.

“Ahhh. Look at the little lad” said Carl.

Tow Truck man looked at Pip, and as his heart of stone softened, so did his face.  I watched him metamorphose before my eyes,  as if we were in a slow motion movie.  There’s something about seeing a small child cry; when you know you can make it stop, you want to. It’s an instinctive part of being a good human being.  Suddenly Tow Truck Man felt like a bad guy,  like the worst man in the world. (Even though, let’s be fair, he was only doing his job.)

“Listen. If my boss finds out I didn’t tow your car, I’ll be in serious trouble. Go inside and do it online, or get to the post office in the next hour.”

“OK. Ok. Thank you, thank you so much.”

Once Pip was assured that Mummy’s car was not going to be taken away and happily seated in front of the TV, I tried to gather my thoughts and arrived firmly at the conclusion, that I had forgotten to tax the car, and quite swiftly realised that the reason I had not received a reminder from the DVLA is because I had forgotten to inform them that we had moved house. Useless. Utterly useless on both counts.

That was unfortunately not the end of my stress.  I couldn’t renew my car tax online, because, it turns out, you can only do that with the reminder letter the DVLA send you (which I didn’t have, as they did not have my new address.)  Added to my woes, I could not find my insurance certificate either.  A monumental hunt ensued trying to find the necessary documentation.  There was a slightly charged phone call to my husband at work; “ I can’t find x/ y’ Where are they? ‘ I don’t know’. ‘It’s not my fault’ ‘I’m not saying it’s your fault’. ‘ I feel like you’re saying it’s my fault’ . AGGGHHH! Stress. Stress. More stress, trying to find everything and get to the post office and back before Mr. Tow Truck returned and found that I wasn’t good to my word; that I was just a tax avoiding crim like everyone else on his list.

Where was the damn insurance certificate?  6 months worth of ‘filing’ which only this week I boasted; "It might not be filed but I know where everything is", ended up spread across the dining room floor whilst I tried to find the darned documents. Know where everything is? Clearly not. What a joke. Were they in the Chinese Cabinet? The usual hiding place for such things. No. Man drawer? No. Kitchen dresser? No. General dumping ground near bookcase? No.  Only when I had the foresight to look in a brown envelope shoved in a corner with some electricity bills stuffed in it, hiding the other contents, did I find the insurance certificate and registration documents for the car.

An emergency dash to the post office later and I now have a fully taxed car.  I have paid the back tax owed, and am fully expecting a hefty monetary penalty to be winging it’s way to me.  And frankly, whilst I won’t be pleased, I’ve got no one to blame but myself (and possibly the husband too. It is a ‘family’ car after all.)

So, the learning for today.  Make sure you communicate your change of address to EVERYBODY, do your home filing regularly, and think twice before you open the door in your pyjamas.  Oh, and there is a little human kindness out there. Thank you Tow Truck Man, wherever you are now, I’m wishing you a very lovely weekend.

18 comments:

  1. And thank you to the theatrically timed crying of Pip, who definately saved the day!

    xxx

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    1. Yes, hurrah for the Pipster who also embraced our emergency mission to the post office like a superstar. Although I didn't like him crying, his tears definitely saved me a few bob!

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  2. make sure you change the address on your driving licence now also as they now now youve movedd and thereis a hefty fineif you dont

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  3. Oh my goodness! What a morning! I would have totally lost it - thank goodness for Carl the builder who helped to fight your corner and well done Pip. Obviuosly not pleasant for him but at least your car didnt get towed away! And well done for finding the docs and sorting at the postoffice. Dont beat yourself up for it!!!!! Its a mistake anyone can make! Ps there is one good thing that came out of this event - we got to have a second bonus post from you this week. I hope writing this helped you to feel okay. PPs I too get my self into a frenzy when I've lost documents and our book shelves are full of unfiled stuff! I hate unfiled stuff!

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    1. I have to sort out the filing..it's got beyond ridiculous now. It's just so boring sorting everything out and using a holepunch - that seems so old fashioned!
      Yes, the whole situation was a bit of a shocker. It's given me the boost I needed to sort some other overdue documentation out too. (Like, stuff I should have done 10 years ago!!)

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  4. You poor lady! That is the last thing you need. And is it just me or does the builder man over the road sound like a bit of a hunk/hero?!

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    1. Definitely a hero. Hunk? Well, he's not bad eye candy!

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  5. Ha, ha! I'm sorry but that is just so funny! Apart from Pip crying, it all turned out well and was so brilliantly told I felt like I was the one watching from across the road. I could see it all. Apart from one thing - what is a Man Drawer? Somewhere for the ManOfTheHouse to keep bits and bobs? I'm inspired to go and check my tax disc now, although I think it was only done a few months ago. But time goes so quickly, how would I know? Great story! Hope you are OK now. And Pip of course. Polly x

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    1. Thanks Polly. Yes, the man drawer is the place where the ManOfTheHouse keeps all the bits and bobs. (And in our case also a load of miscellaneous stuff that we can't find a home for!)

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  6. Oh mummy plum! How you made me smile lol! This should go into storage in your memory for when you write your book! I am guessing you are NEVER going to forget about car tax again! :-)

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    1. Yes, I did think about you when I was going through the unfiled pile! x

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    2. Sadly mine is still unfiled. And the pile is slowly turning into a small mountain. If we are going to move again I am thinking probably best I get it sorted!

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    3. I have actually done mine now. Strangely enough, once I got going, it was remarkably satisfying. Possibly even..enjoyable! Are you moving again? Is it the mice?!

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  7. Go Pip! Well done to you both!

    I had to read this - I was pulled over last month for the same misdemeanour and had to sit shamefully in the back of a police car while a policewoman properly gave me into trouble for my lack of filing and not being sensible enough with paperwork. Horrid!

    You poor thing, I hope you had a good day despite the horrid start - aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarggghhhhhhhh

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    1. So good to know I'm not the only one! Poor you :0(. Bizarrely there is a moneysaving tip in all this. I feel compelled to tell you that legally - you don't have to pay the back tax..did you know that? (So, assuming you don't get a fine for not having the tax in the first place - you actually save some money!).
      Joking aside, it is quite serious. I did not realise this but was told that your insurance is actually void if you do not have valid car tax. A lesson learned.

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  8. Oh poor you - made for a great post though! Good on Pip! I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one that has 'filing' in various spots around the house - in which my husband calls my piles of paper. All very well but he never does any of this stuff. Even when he was unemployed and I was workiing it was still left up to me. It's a wonder I didn't end up with a similar situation. That reminds me car tax reminder is behind toaster waiting to be paid!!

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    1. Think they should just do car tax by automatic renewal...would probably save us all a lot of stress!

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