Road tax

The guy from the local council was wandering round yesterday.

He had a pile of envelopes.

“It’s for him over there,” shouted one of the neighbours. “The foreigner. The one with the dog. Look, he’s there now.”

So the guy hands the envelope to Bemused Partner.

“Eh, HOMBRE!” shouts Partner as the guy rapidly disappeared down the street. “ESPERATE. PARA.”

Eventually the guy stopped and waited. Irritated Partner gave him back the envelope. “No es para mi.”

It was actually for the woman who lived here before us. When she sold the house to us she promptly went out and bought a new 4×4 out of the profits. (As did the estate agent out of the commission.)

When we first moved in, a guy from the council came round asking for her. Seemed like she’d bought the car, but using the old address. It’s common practice round here. Some neighbours also bought from an English-speaking couple who did exactly the same.

So every year when the road tax comes round – payable to the local council – it goes to an address where they don’t live. Technically they are untraceable – unless they ever get pulled by the police on the road.

After two or three years the guy who came round in his official van, asking for – let’s call her Jane – started to believe us and accepted she didn’t live here.

Last year we just got a bill in the post for her car tax. No visit. In fact we started to get on good terms with the guy and we waved at him whenever he was driving round the village looking for car tax dodgers.

This year the council obviously has so many non-tax-payers it is worthwhile sending a guy out to deliver the demand (plus interest plus fine) rather than using the very efficient postie (who at least knows who lives where.)

“I paid my car tax when the demand first came out,” said Smug Partner (it comes out in March and you get a couple of months to pay) just to make a point.

The guy walked back up the street. Obviously deciding the foreigner wasn’t totally stupid.

He asked us about a couple of other names, and numbers. The house numbers around here have no logic to them, partly because of the way families build extra houses on the same plot, split houses into flats, do anything to home their older or younger relatives that isn’t too expensive. We directed him to some neighbours just down from us.

Our immediate neighbours were hanging about outside, interested in the commotion.

“Oh, you remember when Jane sold us the house and bought a new coche,” we explained…..”well every year her road tax demand plus fines are sent to this address.”

The neighbours tutted and sighed. We all looked virtuous and sanctimonious together. We discussed how Jane’s Spanish boyfriend didn’t like to work and lived and ate out of her money. (Unlike their exemplary son-in-law who hasn’t worked for two years – apart from a couple of fiddle jobs – and lives off his wife’s part-time cleaning job and her parent’s pension).

Then the council guy called out another street number. He obviously thought we were so helpful and he still had a sheaf of bills in his hand.

There is no mistaking next-doors’ house number. It is one of the few that has no duplicate. There is no mistaking their name either. Which the guy also called out.

He went to their gate. There was a bit of chat and then Jose reluctantly took the bills in.

We couldn’t contain ourselves. We ran inside with a serious attack of hysterics. And the conversation had stopped.

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