I have to go and buy four new tyres required for the Mitsubishi – another £400 I cant afford. Walking into the reception at the tyre centre, I am greeted by several pairs of eyes blinking out from behind their oil and rubber blackened faces. It’s reminiscent of a coal-mining picture from the 50’s. The one with the bobble hat is usually in charge and I explain my requirements. Then comes the barrage of technical questions designed to intimidate the customer. Do I need 165 SR13’s or 14’s, belted or not belted, tubed or tubeless, radial or cross-ply, budget, remoulds, run-flat, centre less, speed rated or reinforced? Having anticipated this and done my homework, I answer every question correctly much to the disappointment of the foreman and his eagerly assembled Lemur faced teammates. A ‘Darren’, as is his name, directs me to bay four and proceeds to change the tyres.
I retire to the waiting area with a hand scolding plastic cup of coffee, and observe my fellow customers who face the same FAQ’s, sadly, they don’t seem to fare as well as I, and draw numerous patronising comments from Mr. Bobble-hat, and several sniggers from the bouncing Lemurs. When my car is done, the bill is always more than the quote as it didn’t include; Valves, balancing, tracking, disposal of old tyres and a contribution to ‘Help for heroes’
As I drive home I contemplate that the Daffodils in March and April not only signal the arrival of Spring, they also herald an intense period of road works as the Council try and spend last years road repairs budget, before they have to squander the next. The entire town is surrounded by temporary traffic lights and contra-flow systems, as an army of High-Viz clad workmen dig and fill the same holes as last year.
Having spent ages queuing up at one set of temporary traffic lights, and observing the workmen leaning on their shovels staring into a small aperture, I am unwisely moved to a moment of sarcasm and tell them, that even with my limited experience, I believe it to be a hole. Sadly the lights change to red at that moment and for the ensuing five minutes, I have to endure their opinions as to which one of my holes a shovel might fit, preferably sideways.