The Customer Service Clark at Asda didn’t bat an eyelid whilst those of us in the queue had difficulty holding our stomachs in. A lady customer was brandishing one of those small barbecue trays that are full of coals for instant lighting and disposal after one use. The lid of the tray showed succulent sausages and burgers as a serving suggestion. She was complaining that there was no food inside; ah well

A friend used to work in an insurance office where stories of bizarre claims are legion, like the widow who had been married to a miser finding a suitcase full of cash under the bed which mysteriously disappeared or the freezer failure where the stock was seemingly purchased from Fortnum and Mason.
All of us can recall similar stories and in the retelling it is hard to know whether we are being believed or not; nevertheless a call that I had last week from a chap in Malaga will take some beating in my line of business:

But I really want it
“Hello Graham; I have seen a small motorhome that my wife and I would just love to buy, but it has no paperwork can you help?” Now trying to register a vehicle in Spain without paperwork whether foreign or native is always going to be a challenge as documents are far more important than the vehicle itself
“Where is it presently registered?” I asked. “Don’t know” was the response
“Is it left or right hand drive”? “Left hand”
“Is there a manual with the vehicle and if so in which language?” I probed in order to try and determine the providence. “English and Arabic”
“So it is probably from North Africa where Arabic is the native tongue and English a second language” (my travels in the Royal Navy came in use at last). “Look, without any sort of paperwork it is going to be impossible but I can see if it has ever been registered in Spain if you can let me have the chassis number”. “The lady that is selling thinks that the chassis number has been altered”
“Right, so you have seen a motorhome without papers and an altered chassis number and would like me to register it in your name” “Yes please, my wife and me really like the van and it will only cost €500”
“Who is the present owner?” “An English lady who has had it for 5 years; before that it was in a farmer’s field for 5 years”
“I see, and has she been driving it around without paperwork?” Yes, she took the number plates off her English car and used these on the van”
“Don’t buy it I urged” “But it is just what we need and the price is great”

“OK, here is my advice; put on your shorts and run away from it as if you were Linford Christie; buy it if you want, but I am having no involvement with it: can’t you see what problems you are going to have?” “Yes but we really like it”

Don’t get carried away
It has often been said that we expats reinvent ourselves when we arrive in Spain and some of us leave our brains behind also. After 5 minutes of waiting in an office here it doesn’t take a genius to realise that all paperwork has to be just so, so why do folks forget this when being carried away by the emotion of buying the perfect car for them?
I am dealing for the umpteenth time with the transfer of ownership of a Spanish car where the present “owner” does not have the registered keeper’s details because the person that he bought it off never put it in his name at Trafico. Remember after deciding that you just can’t live without the car, check the paperwork and have a background check undertaken or you may be buying a whole lot of grief