“What’s the matter?” I asked the Well-Spoken Barman.

Normally a smiley sort of fellow, his face betrayed the disappointment and chagrin of a man who had won the popular ITV television show ‘Blind Date’, only to find himself jetting off to a Stereophonics concert accompanied by Gerald Kaufman.

He explained that he had sent Phil the Kitchenhand off into King’s Lynn to have his car MOT’d. (For overseas readers, an MOT is a sort of certificate drivers get annually to measure how well they get on with their mechanics).

“They didn’t just fail it,” he mourned. “They wouldn’t give him the bloody keys back. Said it was a deathtrap and that they couldn’t take that responsibility.”

I marvelled at this unusual devotion to duty by the garage mechanic people.

“So anyway, in the end they agreed to tow it to his place and leave it in front of his house,” he continued. “And he rung me up to tell me the news, which I was pissed off about, as you can imagine. But then he rang back an hour later to tell me that he’d just gone outside and it had actually been stolen.”

“Result!” I said in a cheerful voice. “So instead of paying for it to be towed away, you get some insurance money.”

“Not really,” he replied. “I got another call an hour later to say that he’d looked outside again and the thief had brought the fucking thing back.”

I commiserated with his situation. They should at least have had the courtesy to set it on fire or something. I took my pint from the bar in sympathy, and wandered off to watch the cricket.