For six years, from 2000 until 2006, my car was a little red Nissan Micra – I can still remember its registration number 97-WW-1280. It was very reliable and extraordinarily economical, a high mileage to the gallon (or low number of litres per 100 kilometres), and a low insurance group. Excellent for motoring around Dublin, it still coped well with longer journeys, including crossing the Irish Sea to drive to Somerset.
The durability of the car was a good thing, I have never been very attentive to the care of cars. A service and oil change every six thousand miles and tyres replaced when worn, but washing and waxing and cleaning and polishing did not seem a useful use of time.
A lack of attentiveness meant that sometimes I forgot to lock the car doors. The double gates of the garden opened onto a busy road and the crime rate was high, leaving a car open was unwise.
Getting into the car one morning, I was baffled that a box of tissues had been taken from the glove pocket of the passenger door and tissues had been tossed around the interior. Gathering the tissues up revealed a chisel lying on the passenger seat.
Clearly, someone had intended to break into the car using the chisel. Finding the car door open, they had simply got in to search for something to steal. Finding nothing more than a box of tissues, they had presumably felt a sense of frustration and had thrown the tissues around. The sense of annoyance must also have meant they had forgotten their chisel.
Forgetfulness had been fortuitous. Had the car been locked, the damage caused by the person breaking in would have cost considerably more than anything that might have been stolen.
The house I have been renting for the past year is beside a narrow but busy road. I call it the “Oxford Road” or the “Aberystwyth Road,” really it is just the A44 through the western outskirts of the city of Worcester. There are no gates, hedge or wall at the front, a gravel parking area opens onto the pavement.
Walking to the shop across the road to buy a pint of milk, re-crossing the road, I noticed the driver’s door of the car was ajar. I pushed it closed and went to make a cup of tea.
Getting into the car later in the day, I found the pedals were out of reach. Someone had pushed the seat as far back as it would go. I realised that the open door had meant someone had been sitting in the car. I checked the car, I checked the boot, nothing had been touched.
Someone, it seemed had presumably rested in the car, and had then left it without taking anything. Not even a chisel left in return.