Two magpies

Sometimes waking up in my lorry home after a long night’s sleep I spend a few minutes reckoning the advantages to my life.  I’ve been an atheist for many years but sometimes I am overwhelmed with a huge joy about being alive.  In my childhood I might have thanked God, but now I just blog about it. Maybe I’m a bit bipolar as I often also feel the complete opposite, and only last week was down in the slough but this morning it was definitely joy, an almost elated feeling of happiness and challenge.  Not that the morning is particularly auspicious.  It’s just started raining but the sound of the rain ‘on a tin roof’ is poignant and evocative.  Every time I move around in the lorry, my chandelier (renewed this year with a lovely present from good friends) with glass rather than the previous acrylic one, makes tiny tinkling sounds which seem this morning to add a treble line to the percussion of the rain on the roof.  The pigeons are in full song and the squirrels are drumming their strange and eerie calls around the trees in the yard.  Every so often one makes an intrepid tightrope foray along a twenty metre telephone cable across the road.  How extraordinary it must be to be a squirrel, with all that flexibility of balance and movement.  And I speak with some experience of the business of both. 

One of the great things about living in a lorry is the simplicity it offers.  In a way it’s both a requirement and a pleasure.  A requirement because of the inevitable weight issues involved with deciding what I can live with and a pleasure because I enjoy that sort of challenge. 

Last week on my way back from Anglesey and the final day of filming I was pulled up by VOSA.  What happens is that a VOSA van at the side of the road pulls out in front and a flashing sign tells you to follow them.  I’m a sitting target for such things with my vintage lorry and painted sides. At the roadside checkpoint they weigh the lorry and trailer and it turns out that my front axle is slightly overweight.  The inspector was a Jobsworth of epic proportions and obviously didn’t like me or my lifestyle.  The problem (I discovered afterwards) was that because the trailer was not loaded in quite the way it is usually it was transferring some weight to the lorry and the result was the overweight front axle reading.  I tried to adjust the load but because I was annoyed I wasn’t thinking properly about the reason so couldn’t achieve the required reduction in axle weight. The Jobsworth insisted that it was an offence, a fine and he would not let me out of the check area unless it was fixed.  That’s when I started to become annoyed with his attitude and said that staying there would be alright as I lived in the lorry anyway and staying in his checkpoint would be OK with me.  That really annoyed him as it was Friday afternoon and obviously he was not going to be able to lock the place up with a squatter and two dogs living on the site.  Impasse.

Eventually the police arrived.  He had obviously phoned them about the issue and the Police officer was good at his job.  He sorted the issue and offered to escort me back to my yard which apparently pacified the Jobsworth.  Result I get back OK and the Jobsworth could go home feeling vindicated.

So the upshot is that I have to have the weight Prohibition lifted (probably another cost), pay the fine and maybe have some weight taken off the front of the lorry in case it happens again.  Not a real problem as the front of the lorry has a built in wheelchair lift (a legacy of its NHS days) and that must weigh quite a lot so I’m planning to have it removed which will relieve the problem.  The new trailer axles are now rated at 2.75 tons so I can put some items that I usually carry in the front of the lorry in there instead. It will mean a new driving test (a trailer test) as currently I can only have a train weight of 8.25 tons with my current one and I’m near that limit (so the Jobsworth had told me gloating). So I have applied for a medical which has to proceed a new provisional license, will book some trailer lessons and sit a trailer test.  The vehicle and trailer in which I have to pass this new test is half the size of the lorry and stage trailer. Bureaucracy. Anyway it will all be done for May and then once again I will be completely road legal for the season. 

So yes a real strength of positive vibe this morning. Onward and upward.

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander
Mr Alexander