From an anonymous (but clearly knowledgeable) reader.
The car was due for servicing, so I phoned the garage for an appointment. ‘Can you have it done by lunchtime?’ I asked. ‘Why, bless you, not any more, sir!’ came the reply. ‘Whatever do you mean?’ said I. ‘Well, sir,’ said the owner, ‘There’s some good news and some bad news. These days we have to follow the Code of conduct and the relevant Standards and guidance of the IAF.’ ‘That must be the Institute of Automobile Fitters,’ I hazarded, guessing wildly. ‘You’ve got it, sir,’ he agreed. ‘So you need to make a written application, which will be referred to the County Automobilist. And with respect, sir, as your car is more than five years old, he may decide there are implications which require a condition.’ ‘The County who? What sort of condition?’ ‘It’ll go something like this: “No maintenance shall take place until the keeper of the vehicle has secured the implementation of a programme of remedial work in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been submitted to and agreed in writing by the LVA, the Local Vehicle Authority. I checked my watch to make sure it wasn’t April Fools’ Day. ‘Tell me what that means,’ I said. ‘I reckon he’ll want an evaluation, to include a benchtop assessment with consultation of the VMR, the Vehicles & Maintenance Record,’ he added helpfully. ‘And preliminary inspection and possible sampling and radiography and probably a watching brief. And that will need a detailed specification, which must be formally approved before maintenance can start. Then for completion there has to be a full illustrated report. But first he’ll have to write a brief for the specification.’ ‘What’s the good news?’ I asked, faintly. ‘Well, sir, the County Automobilist can supply you on request with a list of contractors who are IAF Members and have satisfied the LVA of their ability to carry out maintenance work to an appropriate standard. And I am pleased to say we are on that list, and if you wish I can provide you with documentary evidence that ‘ ‘Alright, leave it there,’ I interrupted. ‘I’ll have to give it some thought.’ I hung up. How on earth long was all this going to take, and what would it cost? Had the world gone completely mad? Feeling urgently in need of someone rational to speak to, I called my wife at home. She sounded harassed. ‘A man came to mend the washer,’ she said, ‘but he told me he’d have to write a specification’. Amicus curiae