Wednesday, 8th November, 2023

[Day 1332]

Today was the day to which I was both looking forward and not looking forward at the same time. It was the day that had been designated for us to hand in our existing Honda and to pick up a new one, which these days is a hybrid electric/petrol model. There is always a certain amount of nervousness about picking up a new car lest its strangeness leads one to do the wrong thing and, worst of all, have an accident when the vehicle is brand new. This nervousness was compounded by the fact that my experience of automatic cars is limited to the test drive that I had in this model a few months ago now. Having said that, I found driving the new model presented me with no problems at all, and the same was true of today as well. Before we take over a new vehicle, the existing one has to emptied with every nook and cranny but I had done a lot of preparatory work yesterday with most of my own mats taken out before the mini valeting. I used a variety of containers to ensure that every cubby hole e.g. the glove compartment had its own receptacle. I tend always to have certain things kept in the body of the car which includes a subset of cleaning materials, some CD's, various permits, documents of directions to our friends who live a distance away and various other things I have come to regard as essential. For example, I make sure that I have a stash of 50p pieces in a small jar in its own location for car parking charges, another little container containing some spare dust caps in cse one gets mislaid when air is being topped up in the tyres and, of course, a few barley sugar type sweets for long journeys. We set up the alarm early in order to get ourselves up and breakfasted in plenty of time before we set off just before 9.00am. I survived a major panic when I located my driving licence in the safe desk drawer where I normally keep it and promptly lost it again (I had put it on a nearby table) Having got to the garage, we were greeted by the same salesman that handled our transaction three years ago and I shall not hesitate to give him the maximum scores when the customer satisfaction questionnaire wings its way around into my email box. I always try to keep our car in a tip top condition particularly when the car is new and I am 'new car neurotic' e.g. by parking well away from other cars in supermarket carparks. This neuroticism fades over time but I always start off with the best of intentions and try to keep a car carefully washed at least for the first few months. I was pleased that the car we handed in was regarded as in excellent condition and this qualifies me for a special bonus of several hundred pounds which is then used to defray the cost of a new vhicle. There is quite a lot of paperwork and some signatures to complete but all of this went smoothly, including the electronic pin which is used to authenticate the final hand over of the new vhicle. Before we finally hit the road, I asked the saleman to program the SatNav for me with our home address to make sure we got home safely. I must say I was mega impressed by the newly updated SatNav system which seems to include extra additional information when accessing new roads e.g. being informed that you were soon to access the motorway which is a refinement and an improvement over the last model of three years ago. We also asked the salesman to program our favourite radio stations into the DAB system so that we did not have to fiddle about with a new system whilst on the move. And so we got home safely and pretty impressed by all of the new technology some of which I absolutely love e.g. a nice bold indication of one's exact speed instead of a dial where you had to guess your speed was 70mph becuse it was half way between the 60-80 markings. Later on this afternoon after we had lunched and there was a certaim amount of natural daylight remaining, I fitted our cleaned up existing car mats into the new vehicle and ensured that all of the bits and pieces which I like to have in a car has been located into its appropriate cubby hole. Finally, last night I was delighted to find, completely by accident, a video on the web for my model of car which was aimed at a 'handover' situation, describing each of the controls and options in some detail for one to finetune at one's leisure. There are some extraording revelations coming out of the COVID enquiry. Some of the more explosive language is that the permanent secretary Simon Case compared working with Mr Johnson and his team to 'taming wild animals. Nothing in my past experience has prepared me for this madness...The PM and the people he chooses to surround himself with are basically feral.' To this 'cri de couer' came the reply 'I have the bite marks.' Whilst all of this is basically quite juicy stuff, and just confirms that we always suspected that the government handling of the crisis was chaotic, we have to ask ourselves whether we are actually learning the lessons of how to avoid similar incompetence in the handling of any future crisis.