Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This shallow, shallow world

JulieD finally made it to her MOT test yesterday afternoon. It should have been Friday, but problems with doughnuts meant I had to put it off. Old cars don't need much checking for the test - once on the rolling road to check the brakes, a quick look at the exhaust to make sure it's not smoking too much. She passed with flying colours (and there's another saying I'm going to have to look up - I think it's to do with sailing.)

So another year of wind-in-the-hair motoring beckons. Well, not quite. Those of you who read this nonsense and remember it will know that JulieD has no seatbelts fitted (you might also remember that she is an Alfa Romeo Duetto, circa 1967 - like the car Dustin Hoffman drove in The Graduate.) Now I was under the impression that cars built before the fitting of seatbelts became mandatory, which I think was in the mid 70s, didn't have to have them. If they were fitted, then they had to be serviceable, but if not, well you take your chances with the traffic.

Turns out I was wrong.

The MOT Testers Manual states that any car first registered after 1965 and weighing more than 445 Kilos, or first registered after 1972 and weighing more than 225 Kilos must have seatbelts fitted. If the car was first registered before 1981, then those seatbelts must pass over the shoulder, but need not include a lap belt. If the car was first registered after 1981, then they must have both a shoulder and lap belt.

Clear on that?

JulieD was first registered on the 3rd of November 1967, and whilst it's rude to enquire of a lady's weight, she tips the scales a little higher than 445 Kilos. Ergo she requires seatbelts. I've been driving her around for a year unwittingly breaking the law. Fortunately very few people actually know what the law is (including the garage that passed her MOT last year) and so I've not been in any trouble for it. Technically the garage that checked her over yesterday shouldn't have issued her with an MOT certificate. But they're nice people, so they did. I'm not going to tell you who they were.

I now need to get some seat belts. Unfortunately, these cost £77 each and will take a while to arrive even if I do order them up. I had hoped to drive to Harrogate in the convertible - it being the hottest and sunniest summer we've had in ages. But now I guess I'll have to take the batmobile instead. Bah.

None of which is particularly shallow, you say (I hope. Maybe it is shallow?) Well, as Mindy has complained before, my posts quite often come in two parts that are only linked by the most random of connections. And this is one of them.

As well as the MOT test to pass, JulieD has to have insurance. Old cars like her are cheap to insure, which is good news. Us classic petrolheads are considered to be a good risk, apparently. So this morning, by way of random coincidence, the new insurance certificate came through the letterbox. It's much the same as the old one, only with the dates changed. But I did notice one small addendum.

There are now several categories of profession that my insurance company will not cover, even for a vehicle policy confined to social, domestic and pleasure use only. This in itself strikes me as odd. What does it matter what your job is if you're not going to use the car in any connection with that employment? And if you work in a field where the actuaries (who found accountancy too exciting) have deemed you are a greater than average risk, then why not just up the premium? The ways of insurance are arcane, however, and I won't begin to try and fathom them. No, what fascinated me was the list of professions explicitly denied classic car cover. No driver will be covered by the policy if they are involved in the following occupations:
  • entertainment
  • TV or Radio presenter
  • professional sportsman/woman
  • celebrity
  • professional gambler
  • hawker
  • general dealer
  • offshore oil worker
  • airside worker
  • courier/delivery driver
  • foreign armed forces
  • debt collector
  • money lender
  • unemployed
There's some seriously odd thinking going on here. Quite apart from the idea that being unemployed is an occupation, what is a 'general dealer'? And how does he differ from a hawker? Why do offshore oil workers come under scrutiny, but not those who service wells on dry land? Is a delivery driver - someone who depends on his licence for his livelihood - really a bad risk when driving for social, domestic and pleasure reasons?

And here's the shallow bit. Just when did being a celebrity become a job?

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