As someone who once, many years ago, made the idiotic mistake of filling a diesel car with petrol and then driving away, causing catastrophic amounts of damage to the poor engine in question, I have long hovered over the petrol and diesel pumps double-checking I am about to make the right decision.
Until recently, though, I hadn’t encountered a car fitted with one of the increasingly common misfuelling devices, which only accepts the appropriate nozzle, be it from the green or black pump.
When one such device greeted me recently, I smiled at the memories it brought back of the smoky demise of that car more than a decade ago. This, I thought, was progress. But then I started to fill the car with diesel and discovered that all was not as simple as it seemed.
If I applied more than a smidgen of pressure to the pump handle, the flow of fuel cut out. I wiggled, jiggled and contorted the pump handle to all manner of angles and attitudes, but the only way to get fuel into the car was to tickle it in. With 60 litres to fill, this proved to be an irritatingly long experience.
By the time I was approaching a full tank, the cut-off must have kicked in 40 times or more. By then I didn’t trust it, so I kept tickling the handle to get more fuel in, and promptly drenched my shoes in diesel. This, most definitely, wasn’t progress.