Chapter 2- Nissan NV 400.

The NV400 is a new product for Nissan, but it’s based heavily on the Renault Master and Vauxhall Movano. Don’t be fooled by its different face, this van is just as capable and shares many of the attributes that make the Master and Movano a formidable force in the marketplace. There’s more room in the cabin than the previous version, while technological progression is evident in the addition of modern features such as electronic brake force distribution. These make the driver’s life that little bit easier. You can specify either front- or rear-wheel drive and a wide variety of sizes and body styles, including a selection of factory-built adaptions such as tipper and drop-side conversions. Safety has been improved too, bringing the NV400 in line with the latest rules and regulations.

4 out of 5

Behind the Wheel

Sit behind the wheel of the NV400 and you’ll find a dash made of sturdy, hard-wearing materials. All of the controls are accessible and easy to use, and feel rugged enough to withstand day-to-day abuse. There’s a clipboard holder, cup holders, several cubbies including overhead and under-seat storage, door pockets and a folding centre seat which can be specified with a swiveling table on the backrest. There’s also slightly more legroom (5.7cm to be precise) compared to the last model. The driver’s seat is comfortable, and can also be suspended if needs be. The base spec, known as ‘E grade’, gets a radio CD player, while ‘SE grade’ gets Bluetooth Connectivity, electric windows, cruise control, a trip computer and a driver armrest. A variety of options are also available which include sat-nav, metallic paint, air-con, glazed rear doors and an offside sliding panel door.

I’m in the van & I’m late & I’m already proper narked off cos Roz has given me what for & yeah I know its valentine’s day & all that, but like I said to her as we both stomped around each other doing that early morning stuff

“when you’ve been married for 23 years, why bother?”

And then there’s a pause, and I really want to fill it, so I just keep talking and it sounds ok in my head, but somehow, it doesn’t come across like I want it to

“Tell you what love, you go choose something nice, treat yourself, and use the business credit card”

And the moment I said it I knew I was for the high jump, she did the pause thing she does and I thought – ok here we go – but nothing, she just turned away, picked up her car keys & she’s out the door and I’m left stood standing there, cuppa in hand and I dunno, just a feeling that this time I’ve really upset her .

But like I said, I’m running late & I’ve got a new job on the other side of town & I need to get over there, get the lads started, cos I know full well if I’m not there then its bacon cobs, radio 1 & messing on their phones till I get there to shake their sorry asses into gear.

So, there I am, white van man and I light the first fag of the day and it’s all good & I’m just starting to lose the feeling that I’ve done a bad thing at home when the traffic just stops, nothing moving, all 3 lanes gridlocked, it’s come from no-where & all around me you can see people’s heads come up, shoulders tense, windows open .

White van man
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“White van man” is a term popularised in the United Kingdom by the journalist Jonathan Leake, then transport editor at The Sunday Times, to describe drivers of light commercial vehicles such as the Ford Transit. Such vehicles are commonly painted white in order to facilitate easy sign-writing on the panelled sides. The stereotype represents the drivers of such vehicles as often self-employed or the owner of a small business such as builder, carpenter, or plumber. The term White Van Man was used as part of a road safety campaign by the Freight Transport Association to imply poor driving skills and / or an aggressive and inconsiderate manner.

But me, I light another fag, turn on radio 4 – I may be a man in a white van but I’m not stupid and start looking around – I like watching people in their cars – it’s like they forget that everyone can see them – so they go about their business, putting on makeup, chatting on their phones, inspecting their noses as if somehow no-body else is there, as if the glassin the windows somehow makes them invisible. & I’m just watching, still feeling tense after all that fuss with Roz, sorta wishing that i’d done better, been different & then I see her – don’t know why I haven’t noticed her before – given that her filty, mud covered 4×4 is beside me –but something makes me look to the side & there’s this woman & she’s crying and I mean really really crying, her head’s down on the steering wheel and she’s sobbing, shoulders shaking – the whole works & I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t stop looking – its like something out of those foreign films that Roz likes – so she weeps and I watch and the traffic is going nowhere & it’s like we’re in this bubble thing & and cos its Valentine’s day, I can hear some stupid soppy tune from a car up the way a bit and somehow that makes it even more like being in some complicated subtitled film,the ones i fall asleep in and then Roz nudges me and does that thing with her lips to indicate disappointment with me, again.

And I don’t know why, but I really want her to look up , I want to see her face and then it’s like she feels my gaze , she looks up & she looks directly at me & it’s not pretty at all, its nothing like the movies – her face is all red & puffy and there’s make up all down her face and we just stare at each other for a moment & then she runs her hands through her hair & wipes her nose on her sleeve & kind of shakes herself like a dog and puts her head back on the steering wheel.

And I can’t stop looking at her – I’ve never seen anyone cry like this – well not in public anyway & she doesn’t seem to care – she must know I’m looking at her but she just doesn’t stop sobbing and I really want to know why and I’m almost out of the van to tap on her window, to ask what’s going on – but I get a grip – cos I’m turning into some kind of madman here & then – thank you Jesus – the traffic starts moving and the mud covered 4×4 & the sobbing woman are out of my life.

And then I flash back to Rozs’ face this morning and I suddenly see that she wasn’t angry, not really, she was trying not to cry, trying not to show that I’d hurt her,again &
I’ve got this horrible picture on her inher car right now weeping in front of a stranger and you know what it proper shakes me up & and next thing I know, I’m off the main road & I’m heading for her work & I’m trying to text as I drive, get the job sorted out,but myself some time.
I’m driving on auto-pilot, completely focussed on Roz and not for the first time,feeling like a total bastard.
I keep rewinding to her face when she left and how it’s all my fault, again and its mot like I don’t know what to do, for fucks saks, I’ve been married over 20 years, allI had to bloody do was stop off at the garage last night, hide some flowers in the van,jobs a good’un.

But, The truth is that my head was so full of numbers last night, costing out this new job, wondering how long the plasterer and his mate will wait for their money and if i can get another line of credit at the scaffolding place,that I just forgot and when I remembered,well,I’d already sunk a couple of beers and it all just seemed too much effort.

I’m not quite sure what I’m feeling at this moment,i just know I need to get home,need to see Roz, need to hold her and say how sorry I and send her off to work all lovedup and full of Valentine romance. i can see her, driving that bit too fast, radio on just that bit too loud and doing that terrible singing she does and a big stupid goofy smile onher face.
I want another driver to lok at her and be made to feel happy just by looking at herand I want to be the man who’s made her that happy.

I touch my face & it’s wet and its a surprise, I can’t remember the last time I cried.Today seems to be a day for tears, so perhaps it’sok that i’m cryong too.

I get to to the top of our road and I’ve got this little mantra going
“Still be at home”
“Still be at home
“Still be at home”

I’m muttering it again and again and for a couple of minutes, I think I’m alright, I can see her car on the drive, I take a deep breath, I can make this better…..

But, before i can turn in,jump out and make my romantic stupid, goofy gesture, she’s gone.

Her car powers past me, I dont think she even see me, there’s just time for me to take in her face, fixed, staring ahead and then its just me and the van on the deserted cul-de-sac.

I park up, light a fag, consider my options, all of them rubbish, all of them second rate,but I know ive got to do something, gotta make this better, need to make amends.

Suddenly, I know what to do, I gun the engine, chuck the half smoked fag out of the window and floor the accelerator – I’m going after her.

Cos I reckon, one sobbing woman on Valentines’ day is enough for anybody.

About cathi rae

50ish teacher & aspiring writer and parent of a stroppy teenager and carer for a confused bedlington terrier and a small selection of horses who fail to shar emy dressage ambitions. Interested in contemporary fiction but find myself returning to PG Wodehouse when the chips are down View all posts by cathi rae

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