WRIGHT THINKING: Taxing times as discs disappear

Take heed of this warning.
Take heed of this warning.

If you’re a driver, you may have experienced the same odd feeling that I’ve had lately.

I keep looking at the car’s windscreen and getting that odd sensation when you know that something is missing.

Somebody was telling me the other day that the old tax discs should be retained, as they would become highly collectable and valuable.

It’s the tax disc which has disappeared, of course.

As you may know, while you still have to pay the annual car tax, you no longer get the little circle of paper which used to adorn the inside of the screen.

It wasn’t much for your £180 or so, but it was something, and all you get now is a few extra potholes.

The way it works now apparently is that the police can scan your number plate and the magic of technology tells them immediately that you are taxed and insured – or not.

One effect of the demise of the tax disc is that a classic comedian’s gag has gone forever.

The story was that the traffic policeman stopped a motorist and told him that one of his back lights was not working.

The driver kicked it and it came back to life.

“Right,” said our boy in blue, “now kick your windscreen and make the tax come up!”

A future generation will have no idea what that means. I suppose the new system is the logical conclusion to how things have developed.

Originally the only way to tax your car was to queue at your local post office and offer your application form, along with the insurance certificate, the MOT certificate if appropriate, and the all-important chunk of cash.

Things moved on a bit so that you could fill out your application online and send the fee electronically.

The old-fashioned bit was still there though, as the little paper disc would eventually pop through your letterbox.

Alongside other factors, this probably accounts for the gradual reduction in the number of sub-post offices around town.

I noticed the other day that the nearest one to us, the Rift House branch in Oxford Road, is no more.

Driving past quickly, I saw to my surprise that the shop had been taken over by beavers – but a later check proved it be a furniture business with that splendid name.

Somebody was telling me the other day that the old tax discs should be retained, as they would become highly collectable and valuable.

As there must be millions of the things around, I find that hard to believe, but I’ve kept mine just in case it becomes a modern antique, if there is such a thing.

The other objects which are now pretty useless are the little plastic pockets in which the tax disc was kept, and some factory somewhere has lost a fair bit of business in producing these.

Most car dealers has their own branded pouches made, and, on my garage shelf, is a version carrying the name of our very own Hartlepool Mail.

Now that I’m on a roll, I suppose that producers of films and TV programmes will have to be careful to get it right – cars in productions set in times before now will have to show a tax disc won’t they?

One last thing which I won’t miss about the paper disc is the little perforations around the edge of the circle.

No matter how careful you were in tearing it out of its surrounding paper, you always ended up with one ragged edge, and had to wait a full year before you could try for a tidier version.

Another simple pleasure demolished by the march of the computer.