The truck departed yesterday on the first leg of its voyage to the great breaker's yard in the sky. After years of scraping through its MoT with just a bit more welding, the garage warned us this time last year that it was going to be difficult to patch it up again. Or at least, not cost effective. Ah well, it was good while it lasted, but we did not honestly need a truck any more, and certainly not enough to pay any serious money to have it fixed. It was a relief when it started, and made it to the scrap merchant's yard without breaking down en route.
It was a flat bed Ford Transit, that had already travelled the equivalent of many times around the globe before we got it at umpteen hand, definitely pre-loved, still with a clip on the dashboard for holding delivery notes. It was very useful when we had the boat and the Systems Administrator needed to transport scaffolding up to the boat yard for fitting out in the spring, and if you live in the country you find there are all sorts of situations where a truck comes in handy. We used it to collect spent mushroom compost in bulk from the mushroom farm up in Suffolk, and to buy large sheets of plywood for whatever shed building project the SA had on the go at the time. It quested the lanes north of Colchester to buy straw bales for the hens, and each December it brought the Ent-like twelve foot Christmas tree back from the plant centre. A couple of years ago it transported the sawn sections of an entire fallen poplar tree back from the spinney, getting stuck in the process and having to be hauled out by a friend's Landrover.
But the boat went last year, and it is possible to get plywood delivered for much less than the cost of road taxing and third-party insuring even a very ancient builder's truck. I discovered that the garden centre round the corner sells mushroom compost, and that I can fit eight bags in the back of the Skoda, not so many as would go on the truck, on the other hand Elmstead Market is a lot closer than Suffolk, and the compost from the garden centre seems to be better rotted and drier. We no longer have any connection with the farmer who sold us the straw, since he ceased keeping company with the friend who provided the social link, and got the last lot of straw from a beekeeper who has a wheat field and a trailer, and was kindly willing to deliver. The SA has bought some roof bars for the car, and we will content ourselves with a normal sized Christmas tree, which will save me perilously wobbling about on the top rung of the stepladder trying to hook the angel on top of the Ent.
The SA was rather amazed to get some money for the truck, having privately had visions of ending up hawking the thing round a string of progressively dodgier scrap yards. Not very much money, but some. I hadn't been so pessimistic, since there was value in the vehicle. The engine and transmission system still worked, and the tyres still had some life in them, the problem was the rust in the bodywork getting beyond the limits of what was economically repairable. I was amazed when I discovered payment had come in the form of a cheque and not a handful of greasy tenners, but I'm behind the times. The law has at last tightened up on scrap dealers, at least legal and licensed ones, and they will only pay you by cheque or bank transfer, and you need to produce photo ID before they will take anything. Which is a very sensible move and not before time, although as the SA pointed out, while the train service is still diabolical, cable thefts don't feature much nowadays in the litany of excuses.
The scrapyard was patrolled by four yard cats, who were sitting in a neat row when the SA called in, and had beds made out of cardboard boxes. As well as being a scrap yard it is still a working farm, as the SA discovered because the girl he spoke to hadn't done a vehicle scrappage before, and had to phone someone called Ben for instructions on how to do it, who was said to be with the cows. That's very Essex, cattle and scrap. So the SA handed over the truck's documents and on production of a passport was given a cheque and the paperwork that proved that we were no longer the registered keepers of the vehicle.
Sic Transit gloria mundi.