As I get older and more curmudgeonly, I find that my list of things that unaccountably irritate me is growing. As such, I find it useful to explore these newfound prejudices. Why is it that the postman leaving rubber bands by my front door induces such apoplexy? Where has my teenage nonchalance gone when it comes to double parking or cold calling from PPI companies?
Today it is the turn of private registration plates. Why should the fact that someone wish to change an identification number on their car irritate me? Is it because I can’t justify the expense of changing my own VRM? Perhaps it is a sense of unworthiness; should I be offering to take the keys of the drivers of such vehicles? Running a shammy over the bonnet before handing it back to a tuxedo-clad punter after they’ve spent an evening at the craps table?
It occurs to me that there are four reasons one might choose to have a personalised number plate. These are listed below in decreasing order of acceptability to my prematurely-aged brain.
This is the only reason I can fully empathise with. I am one of those weird guys who doesn’t know their number plate. Between family life, work, writing, and PhD, my mind has decided to jettison this piece of information simply to stay afloat. Like jelly on a window pane, it is a piece of information that just won’t stick. As such, anyone who has the get-up-and-go to change their VRM so that they can better remember it has my full support.
- Being beholden
This is an awkward one. If you have received a personalised number plate from a well-meaning or indeed a tragically misguided relative as a gift, you are in a uniquely awkward position. This isn’t a kitchen utensil that can be bundled into a drawer or a pair of socks that can be explained away as being in the wash. People will notice if you’ve not added ‘K1NKY’ to the front of your Kia Picanto. Your choices are between offending a generous friend or relative and retaining some dignity.
In the past, I might have been able to get on board with this one. Elitist it might have been, but in the 60s or 70s having a personalised number plate was an indication that you had either money or position. If nothing else, it was a handy guide as to whether or not to leave a note on someone’s windscreen after a ding in a supermarket car park. It also must have been a useful weathervane for car thieves back when that kind of crime was in vogue, designating as it did a vehicle as potentially containing items of worth or as being owned by a member of the minor aristocracy. Nowadays, however, personalised VRMs are available to the everyman. A Google search informs me that I can pick up a number plate for as little as £25, a fact that takes the purchase out of Harrods and placing it as something you might throw in the trolley at 2am in Aldi on the way home from a night out.
I get the premise here. Sometimes numbers can look like letters. Those numbers can be placed in the middle of other letters so as to look like words. Those words can be personalised so as to indicate a character personality or spell out a name. I understand that there is not a universal sense of humour, and that many different things appeal to many people, but surely, surely, however funny your number plate is, the LOLs will begin to fade before your finance agreement on the car ends. Even the best jokes fade with time, and there is no combination of letters or numbers which should elicit anything, anything more than a wry smile after the drive home from the garage. It should in my opinion have the same shelf life as a custom ringtone or novelty card.
I’m all for freedom of expression of course, but should uninhibited power ever come my way, then kiss goodbye to your THS1Z4ME’s and your RUN4IT’s. Why?
***Thanks for reading folks. All likes and comments much appreciated!***