Every now and again, m’colleague Stoobs and I like to do something manly. I don’t mean go deer hunting or take part in greco-roman wrestling, but a couple of times a year, after gentle nagging from our better halves, we’re tasked with emptying all the shite out of our respective garages and one of us hires a van to take it to the tip. Yesterday was my turn.

Hiring vans is great. It usually involves a trip to somewhere in the region of a scrappies, which is an adventure in itself. Then there’s the actual sitting up high in a big van, behaving in an intimidating manner, crunching gears, showing disregard to someone else’s vehicle, which all leads to lying to council employees at the local civic amenity site regarding the contents of our load. Yep. Hiring vans is great. Except for one aspect of it. Refuelling.

See, in the US and I would imagine most civilised countries, what happens when you hire a van or a car is they tend to give you it with a tank full to the brim with lovely, delicious fuel. You drive about for a bit and before you return the vehicle, you fill it back up to the brim again. The rather obvious benefit of this being that you’re only actually paying for the fuel you’ve used. In Britain, we seem to do it rather differently and no one complains about it. Well, I’m bloody complaining about it now.

See, in Britain, upon taking charge of your van or car, you tend to find that, far from being full, the tank has been drained and a wino has been forced to breathe into it for a few minutes while you’re in the office filling out the insurance waivers. So the very first thing you have to do when you drive away, is go and fill up. But — you don’t know how much you’re going to need, do you? How much does a van consume in 4 hours? And what effect will a full load have on its consumption? Is there anyway we can quickly work this out? No, so you stick in a fiver’s worth or maybe even a tenner’s worth and then go about your day, returning the vehicle with rather more in the tank than the mere fumes you had when you picked up.

And it’s a complete con. And everyone knows it. And everyone also knows that the surplus fuel is going to be sucked out of the tank as soon as your back’s turned, probably by the same hobo who breathed into it earlier. And I hate feeling that way because it kinda flies in the face of the wild west roughneck fantasies that otherwise come from driving a big white van, where m’colleague and I can pretend that we have real jobs.