Fast forward to last weekend. I had a client in London on the morning of Friday 8th, followed by some Masonic activity that evening, and then a friend's wedding on the 9th -- and staying in a hotel in Docklands on both Friday and Saturday evenings.
Therefore, as I was on the train going into London on Friday morning when the garage called to inform me that my car would be ready the following afternoon, I had to tell them that I wouldn't be able to collect it until after the weekend. In fact, on consulting my calendar, it emerged that I wouldn't be able to collect the car until Wednesday 13th -- today, in other words.
Early on Monday morning I took a call from my client for the day, informing me that he'd have to cancel. Ooh, a chance to get my car a couple of days early! I phoned the garage to confirm the car was ready ... and for some reason my car now wouldn't be ready until Wednesday morning, as we'd arranged the preceding Friday. Ah well, two more days in the Astra.
This morning I phoned the garage to confirm that the car was available for collection as previously arranged, and they told me that they were already expecting me sometime between 8am and noon. Rather than leave my hired Astra miles away at the garage, I hopped on a train and set off towards Crawley to collect my car.
At half past eleven, while I was changing trains at Clapham Junction, the garage phoned me. The car isn't ready, they tell me -- there's something wrong with the tracking, they're going to sort it out but they don't anticipate that the car will be ready before 3pm. I explain to them that I'm already on my way, that I'll complete my journey as previously arranged, and that I'll listen to their explanations on my arrival.
I arrive at Three Bridges station at 12:14, and at the garage at around 12:40. I am fielded by a gentleman called James, who informs me that my car has been sent to another centre for further testing. I point out that I don't have any method for getting elsewhere, and I tell him that I'll wait in reception, looking forward to the time when he comes up with some method for sorting me out.
So I now have two loan cars -- the one from the garage is a Fiat Panda which is approximately four feet long and three feet wide and, bizarrely, has four doors despite there being insufficient space on the back seat to place a hardback book. Having driven it home, I don't intend to drive it anywhere other than back to the garage when they call me to confirm that my car is ready.
I've instructed James, very carefully and comprehensively, only to call me when the car is actually ready for collection having been tested -- and very definitely not to call me simply because they think it'll be ready to collect by the time I arrive.