Why aren't new cars idiot-proof? – Opinion

Steve had quite an unfortunate car journey.
Steve had quite an unfortunate car journey.
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My week has been overshadowed by the loss of £280, in quite imbecilic manner. For most people a car journey is a straightforward affair.

You depart for your destination and then arrive at the other end with no fuss whatsoever. Unfortunately for an idiot like me, it doesn’t always happen like that.

Being the generous type, I decided to take Mrs C and my two children to a farm in the Lancashire countryside. I did this because Mrs C has been banging on about ‘wanting to spend more time together as a family’.

We undertook the journey in Mrs C’s car because it is bigger than mine and, more to the point, has two child seats in, which is crucial when one has two children.

I drove. When we’re together, no matter whose car we’re in, it is always me that has to drive, while Mrs C lolls in the passenger seat and spends the journey either tapping mindlessly on her mobile phone or falling asleep. The latter is an unpleasant state of affairs for Mrs C is not an attractive sleeper. Her shoulders slump and her mouth opens wide while saliva dribbles down her chin like a river that’s burst its banks.

We reached our destination – a wild boar farm – and spent a very pleasant couple of hours looking at goats and cows and pigs.

About a mile into the journey home there was an odd noise. Mrs C and I exchanged glances and agreed it must have been the pram moving in the boot when we took a corner.

Eventually – after stopping twice to allow Mary to have an emergency poo (‘daddy, quick, I can feel it coming out’) – we arrived home. I switched the car engine off and immediately the whole dashboard display went unusually blank.

Mrs C remarked, ‘that’s odd, where’s the key?’

Like Britain when Boris was elected, I experienced a sudden sinking feeling. Mrs C’s swish motor has a key that you don’t actually put in the ignition. As long as it is in the vicinity of your vehicle, the car will start.

I thought back to leaving the farm and remembered putting the car keys on the roof as I lifted Mary into her seat.

I didn’t, however, recall picking the car keys back up.

What had clearly happened was that I had started the car and set off, and that weird sound – a mile or so in as we were driving along a twisty country lane in the middle of nowhere – was the sound of our keys, which also had on them the house key, flying off the roof.

After a short discussion – which largely consisted of Mrs C calling me a cretin – we realised that the upshot was we now owned a car we couldn’t start.

I rang the garage and told them we needed a new key.

The man on the line informed me, in an annoyingly cheery voice, that it was £280 and asked why we needed a new key. I told him and he remarked, ‘ah yes, happens all the time this – some people are very sloppy about where they put their key’.

If I’d been able to throw a small hand grenade down the phone line, followed by some mustard gas, I would have.

Now I know what happened was my fault but allow me a little rant here – and it’ll be tough to stop me, given this is my column. 

If car manufacturers are going to invent fancy keys like this, how ridiculous that something doesn’t flash up on your dashboard telling you, ‘Your key has just flown off the roof into a hedge – it’s probably best to stop and go fetch it’.

I mean, my god, the digital displays in cars are so hi-tech these days they tell you everything from how cold it is, to how much a bag of petit pois costs. 

As a result of having to shell out £280, the children and Mrs C are being forced to eat toast and butter all week, while I’m only eating steak four times instead of the usual five.