Friday, 19 February 2010

Pot Rage

Gene pool comedy guest star Gordon Brown comes up with so many really good jokes that I don’t always notice them or get them at the time. Here’s one that belatedly hit me in a hard place this week.

Last Saturday my old car went south in every sense of the expression not involving Linda Lovelace and too many tequila slammers, and so I found myself thoroughly pedestrian once again, like my prose.

Natch, I need wheels to visit Tiny Northwester; take Mrs. Northwester to belly dance festivals when she’s not getting her latest Supernatural hit of Sam and Deany goodness courtesy of Amazon and Postman Pat; and to schlep home the monthly grocery shop to a narrow terraced street where even Sainsbury’s enterprising crew cannot boldly go.

So, to save a few quid from what little’s left of Mama and Papa Northwester’s inheritance, I thought I’d do much what I did last time and ring round to get myself a good little car. By ‘good’ and ‘little’ here I mean one with a small engine (preferably diesel and allegedly good for the invirrament, as if I cared) and therefore low insurance costs. Last time, Jade and I found a nice little Corsa in the sub £2,000 range from a small independent trader that lasted me seven years before Saturday’s ‘phut’ and the interesting experience of suddenly finding myself at the wheel of a one-ton go-cart on the M5.

Thank God for road works.

Long and the short of it, since last time the sub four grand car market locally (i.e., in Castle City and its suburbs) consists of private sales from individuals at private addresses that are difficult and expensive to reach and who can offer no kind of quality check, and who don’t accept credit cards and who don’t have a range of vehicles to choose from.

The small independent trader, bless his tartan tie and Teflon smile, had always fed my thrifty Northern soul with economical vehicles that wouldn’t set the tarmac blazing but that got my passengers, modest amounts of consumer goods and luggage and me from places where we already were to places where my passengers, modest amounts of consumer goods and luggage and I already weren’t.

Swiss Toni (okay, Pennine Kev) explained that the government’s scrappage scheme had sucked in (and not in a Linda Lovelace sense) all the decent sub £4k elderly cars owned by those willing and able to finance (that is, to raise loans from tax-rich banks or to pay on interest to motor trade companies FFS!) or buy outright brand new cars.

Now I’m lucky, because I have a few quid saved up and so meeting the £4,000 bill of a marketable car will be less painful for me than for - say - hard working families who are not so well supplied with higher education which gets you to the job interviews every time or educated parents who really believed in life insurance.

Also, I missed out on the scrappage scheme so if you want to believe that this post is merely sour grapes, then you go right ahead.

Labour’s destroyed an entire market here with its double-barreled, half-arsed plan to save the planet by taking usable cars off the road (or ones in hindsight like mine ready for the scrap yard free of charge to the taxpayers anyway) and to encourage people to buy brand new ones from Britain’s large-scale, nationally organised, deep pocketed, easily contacted, ‘consulted’ and lobbied motor trade.

And all that’s like ‘Oh,’ for me.

Still, though you can conspiracy-theory all you want about yet another large-scale transfer of taxpayers’ money to a concentrated group of established commercial interests to the detriment of a greater number of diffuse and less accessible independent traders, I’m going to go on sulking here as would-be consumer from a hard-working family, and speculate which groups might have slipped on Gordon’s banana skin in this one.

# Below average wage couples and singles who need cheapish and reliable transport to find and hold down jobs not on bus routes. (Forget the option of trains here for commuting. Sunday’s picaresque two-change trip back to Castle City started off with the local train company offering me this choice of carriage type: grumbling drunken lunatic or non-grumbling drunken lunatic.)

# Formerly unemployed individuals who are offered jobs contingent on their having a car such as: many sales staff; fast food industry employees; everyone who works beyond three miles from a town or city, and public and private care and health workers.

Such as nurses.

# Single mothers with enough integrity and grit to seek work long before the benefits gravy train leaves the station.

#Newly qualified teachers without rich parents but in possession of large student debts who need to live away from the Escape From New York schools they find work in.

# Young men straight from school or sixth-form college with the gumption to seek and find work but whose bosses lack the foresight and central planning wisdom of Gordon Brown to build their premises within walking distance of said lads’ homes.

So that’s social mobility - as well as the other kind - on the scrap heap along with the Northwester Porsche and many chances of a bottom-up economic recovery.

Let’s hope that regional Nissan dealers’ wives hire a lot of domestic staff, eh, Mister Brown?

Picture from here.


James Higham said...

Mistake, mistake - get a bike.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Well, yes, obviously, but if the scheme has indeed now ended and will not be reinstated, won't prices revert back to normal over the next year or so?

WV; comic

JuliaM said...

Probably, but that's no consolation if you need a car now!

North Northwester said...

James, a bike is a leisure and bachelor transport - not for shopping. Still, good luck on the north west's me-haunted roads.

Mark, it just upset me at the time, and in retrospect, seeing all that money - a grand a pop of your money and mine - going to crony capitalists and doing down the small traders (who came up with the goods as it turned out - enraged me. No doubt the market has snapped back, and the watermelons will feel glad they've done something. Something to delay the recovery - if any - is just up their street.
Still, perhaps I should have tagged it 'general whinge.'

Julia, exactly! It can't all be about the big picture


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