I am afraid that this post may end up reading a bit like a commercial for AA European Breakdown cover. But just occasionally, when minor domestic disasters hit, you end up not feeling infuriated with every piece of adminsistration you come across (the hours of "your call is important to us", interruptinng hours of tapeloop Vivaldi) ... but in the hands of efficient people who actually get you sorted, and nicely too.
This story is, of course, about the van. When finally the lads had found a way of insuring the thing before the European road trip, I had a sudden rush of maternal responsibility and insisted to the son that he take out a month's AA breakdown cover for Europe. Never has £160 (if I remember right -- which was the cheap rate for him as AA member) been better spent. Because in fact the poor vehicle did in fact break down on the Italian side of the Brenner Pass (as I briefly mentioned a few posts ago). It was terminal problem with the clutch.