Come for a drive, a friend said yesterday, and your correspondent, recovering from a ghastly winter flu, was very happy to accept the invitation.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Home and transport in one ... Joseph's new sleuth van will have full accommodation of a rather higher order than this lady's ... and hopefully with wheels in the four corners. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
The destination was Portsmouth to collect some vital equipment for his latest love, a Ford van of the sleuth genus, which to the more old fashioned might be better known as a camper van.

However, the style is much more upmarket these days, as Uncle Google happily reveals.

Friend Joseph bought the needed wheels through eBay, and in the eBay manner paid up-front.

A pleasant scenic drive

All that was necessary to enjoy the relative bargain was a pleasant scenic drive down to the Hampshire yachting port, an old haunt of mine, to collect the goods.

My sextant and charts weren't needed because Joseph has his own amazing navigator, a traffic application called Waze, extraordinarily free online.

Without once looking at a map, we reached exactly the right gate, and Joseph went in to collect his bargain perfectly on the prearranged time.

How odd. The seller wasn’t home, no-one was, and nor were the wheels with an apologetic note attached. Surely, it couldn’t be …

Not wheels?

Curiously, a delivery van drove up and parked next to us. The driver was here to collect some goods at this prearranged time. ‘Not wheels?’ Joseph asked. The driver nodded.

Then, curious and curiouser, a second commercial lorry arrived, and parked alongside. He was here to collect, um, looking through his clipboard, some wheels.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Four wheels, one home ... Sleuth vans mean that wherever you are, your home is, too. Photo by Fachy Marín on Unsplash
All three vehicles had arrived at a prearranged time, and yet no-one was at home and definitely no wheels were to be spotted anywhere. Oh, no …

One of the commercial drivers called his base, enquiries were made, and we learned that the supplier was seen being whisked off in a police car.

'Taken off by the fuzz'

Then a neighbour confirmed that the fellow had been taken off by the fuzz.

Gloom gloom. Surely it wasn’t possible that … No, we didn’t like to think of the likeliness of … Instead we waited and waited.

If you're based in England, you’ll know that yesterday was not exactly a summery day.

Dusk falling in the harbour seemed to encourage my reawakening flu germs even more.

Eventually, there seemed no alternative: Joseph had been caught out in an old crime trick. Then, as if Fate hadn't been cruel enough, the heavens re-enacted a continuing scene that Noah knew well.

Back in London, a gloomy Joseph dropped me off, went off to speak with eBay and the law, and a vigorously revitalised flu took me and a rising temperature off to bed.

A cheery end

Surprisingly, this wintry anecdote carries a cheery end.

The wheels seller was back emailing after his meeting with the local law.

He had been the victim, he reported. Thieves stole his own sleuth van during the night before, plus the wheels and the extras he had for sale.

Sympathetic local police collected the wheels-less victim so he could make his robbery declaration. A refund was on the way, plus a contribution to Joseph’s fuel.

My revitalised flu remained skeptical and put in considerable overtime throughout the night. However, happily ever after can apply today for the germs gave up and eBay confirmed that a refund was on the way.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory and on Blogger,

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The blogs for Sailing to Purgatory are introduced on Facebook and Blogger.