My temporary life as a white van man…

SO I am a man with a van (rather than a man with a plan). A white van man what’s more.

Not the White Van Man of political legend whose opinions were said to be crucial to swinging an election. No, it’s more a case of hiring a van to start moving our daughter back from university.

With three offspring, this is the final university run. Normally I’d use the car. The valiant Volvo did the job for the boys, but she is suffering from old lady disease in her tired Swedish bones.

Monday was set aside for the move. I noticed something was wrong on Saturday, and that’s when the dithering started. Should I hire a van or not? In the end I didn’t but instead booked a last-minute visit to the garage that tends to the old car.

A new part was needed but couldn’t be got in time, so I dashed off on my bike and hired a Ford Transit, everyday king of vans, and the two of us and our daughter clambered into the front, and off we went. I was anxious at first but settled into the driving after a while. I’ve only ever driven a van once before. The lack of a rear-view mirror takes a while to get used to, but the all-seeing wing-mirrors make up for that.

So we drove up to Newcastle, filled the van with one bicycle, a couple of bits of furniture and enough clothes to set up a shop. We left our daughter for her last few days in her university life.

Once we were safely through Newcastle, my wife fell asleep all the way home. And I played at being white van man. Not the stereotypical driver of a smaller-sized commercial van, caricatured as aggressive and inconsiderate. No, just a man perched up high in the driving seat and enjoying himself.

To hire a van or not, that had been the question that drilled holes in my mind. But once on the road such worries disappeared. But cousin complication hadn’t let go of me yet.

I need the old Volvo on Saturday for a final Newcastle run. And this morning I am heading to Halifax for a feature. Last night the garage sent a text saying could I get the car there this morning.

Ah, yes, tricky. Unless you get up at before six, load the bike into the back of the stuttering Volvo, drive to the garage on the other side of York, pop the keys through the door, then cycle back, all before 6.45am. Then with the dash of time flapping in my ears, I decided to sit down and write a quick blog, as a busy day yesterday left no time for ledge life.

In an hour or so, I’ll drive that white van to Halifax. It will look like I am delivering goods. And so I am: one slightly worn journalist with his digital recorder, notebook and a question or two. And you don’t really need a white van for such inconsequential cargo, but that’s the only way I could work things out.

As for the university runs, they have been as much a part of life as taking the children to primary school when they were young (an occasional dad duty for days off).

As term starts, you see the overloaded family cars heading for university towns, mum and dad in the front, offspring in the back, hemmed in by a duvet, new pans, a guitar or two, lots of clothes, computers. Sometimes I’d see parents coming the other way, heading to university here while we go there. You have ours and we’ll have yours.

All those years of young person conveyancing, now about to end with a last leg on Saturday. But before that I have to get back into that van.

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