I’m fairly sure that there are various answers to this question, some of which may be less appropriate than others when voiced within the confines of a motoring website. But for me, right now, a black hole looks very much like this.

DVLA's Swansea headquarters

How so? Because last week my beloved Citroen ZX Avantage D finally, after years of resistance, failed its MOT. Which means it’s now destined for the breakers yard in the sky.

Except in my case it’s not as simple as that – because a while back I put a private plate on the car. And as far as the DVLA is concerned, that’s a bit like what happens at the end of 2001, A Space Odyssey – you enter into an alternative universe in which no one can hear you scream.

The reason why is because you can’t immediately apply to put a number plate on retention from a car that’s been scrapped or written off. Instead, you have to apply first for a SORN (a statutory off road notice) and then wait for a DVLA inspector to check that the VIN number on your car matches the one shown on its V5 registration document. And that can take up to six weeks. Apparently.