We live in a cynical world. One cannot simply advertise something for sale and expect people to believe what one is saying.
The first person to turn up to view the horse lorry did not even want to test-drive it on the basis that it was clearly a death trap.
‘Hmm,’ she said. ‘I’m just a bit concerned about that roof.’
I looked at the roof, baffled. ‘There’s nothing wrong with the roof.’ Genuinely, it’s the last bit of the lorry I have ever worried about.
I tend to worry more about the floor, given that that is the bit the horse is standing on. I had the floor fully checked. But the roof? Not so much. What trouble the roof of a horsebox could possibly be, I could not imagine. Was she planning to suspend her horse from the ceiling, rather than tie it to the wall?
I said I could vouch for the fact that the roof had never given me any problems that I was aware of.
The lady huffed. ‘What’s that bit of plastic on the ground then?’
I looked down. Propped up against the lorry was a mouldy old sheet of Perspex that had obviously been blowing around the farm yard until someone picked it up and leaned it there, probably to stop it frightening the horses.
‘I don’t know what that is,’ I said, kicking the thing to one side.
The lady looked at me pointedly and raised her eyebrows. ‘I think you’ll find that’s from your roof.’
‘Honestly,’ I said. ‘I will tell you there are downsides to this lorry. It can’t take a horse over 16 hands. It doesn’t start first time on cold mornings, it starts second time. And it absolutely needs a paint job. But I swear to you there is nothing wrong with the roof.’
‘What’s that hole then?’
I stared at where she was pointing and all I could see was a smudge of dirt.
‘That’s not a hole.’
‘Yes it is. It’s where that bit of plastic has come from.’
I wouldn’t have minded but the bit of plastic didn’t even fit the size and shape of the smudge. I denied again that the roof was dodgy but she pulled her cardigan tightly around her, the way women do when they are sure they are being taken for a ride.
I had to give up. I showed her back to her car and waved goodbye. Fine, let her think there’s a hole in the roof. There isn’t a hole in the roof, but if it makes her happy to go off and gossip to all and sundry that I tried to sell her a lorry with a hole in the roof then alrighty-roo, there’s a hole in the roof.
I just wanted it to stop. The lorry had been advertised on Facebook for barely a day and it was already doing my head in.
Within minutes, people were deluging me with statements of the bleeding obvious like: ‘Is this still available?’
Yes, it is. It was listed three minutes ago and it hasn’t sold yet.
I posted 15 pictures of the damn thing from every angle and the reaction was, ‘Have you any more photos?’
How many more photos would you like? 15? 150? 1,500? 15,000?
My description ran to over 100 words including every possible engine detail, all the dimensions, the weight laden and unladen, and how it was suitable for horses up to 16 hands.
‘Can I put my 16.2h horse in it?’ came the response of one girl. And then from another: ‘Will my 16.3 fit in this?’
‘The problem you’ve got,’ said the keeper, as we sat in my kitchen, me head in hands, my laptop pinging with superfluous Facebook notifications, ‘is that you are dealing with women.’
‘Stupid women!’ I cried.
Because, after all the questions, they were turning up and not even test-driving it. I popped the bonnet for one girl. ‘What you doing?’ she said. ‘Showing you the engine,’ I said. ‘Oh, I don’t want to see that.’ ‘But it’s got a new battery and spark plugs.’ ‘I’m not really interested to be honest,’ she said, fiddling with the radio.
‘Would you like me to turn the engine over?’ ‘Nah.’ ‘Can I show you the paperwork? I have the service history.’ There was no point. She was glazing over.
It suddenly occurred to me that in the time it takes me to sell this lorry, Gracie will be fully recovered from her tendon strain and jumping again. So what if it’s £75 a month to tax, insure and park. If I let it stand idle for six months and don’t try to sell it, that’s £450 not to have to deal with women asking pointless questions. Cheap at half the price.