Thursday, June 07, 2007

Eeek

Am mired in the muddy suspicion: "Is it my imagination or is the world out to get me?" Some drunk put his elbow through the front window of my rented house. How did that happen? We are living in a little village. The noisiest I have known it, is when they ring the church bells on Sunday. I lived in the East End for 10 years, did a drunk ever put his elbow through my lounge window in the East End? He did not. I am presuming it was a drunk, there is an outside chance it was a thief who decided to steal a child's toy. The children's toys are piled up on the window sill. I looked at the scattered glass shards littering the plastic garage and the box of farm animals and thought: "Surely, someone has not tried to steal a Thomas the Tank train?" You would have to be very bad or very sad to steal a child's toy. I gave the offender the benefit of the doubt and decided it was an anti-social drunk staggering home from the pub. I cannot believe they were so very drunk they cannot remember they broke a window. I would have apologised. Dropped round a card. "Terribly sorry. Absolute skinful. Broken window. Chagrin everywhere." I might even have signed it. With a name. Not necessarily mine. A Cockney apology would also have involved a jar of jellied eels on the doorstep the next morning.


Then I was driving home from the school run. The roads are occasionally very narrow and there was a hairpin bend. I hug the edge when I take a bend. Just as well. I had nudged round the bend only to see a huge lorry bearing down on me from the opposite direction. I looked for a way out. I do that a lot at the moment. There was nowhere to go. I often find that to be the case. The only place left for me was up the bank and into the hedge. I ground the car into the greenery while the lorry driver did what he could to swerve. How we missed each other I do not know. Time stopped and I watched him climb down from his cab. I let him come towards me. I am thinking: "I wonder if that sheep sent him." I was not entirely sure I could get out of the car because of the angle I was at. He said: "Are you alright?" I am British. I may be hanging out into the road at a 45 degree angle but, of course I am alright. "Fine," I trilled, "are you alright?" He was British too. And a man. He was equally as alright. Reassured, he drove off. I let him. I think he drove off because he was in shock. I was still up the bank. I thought as I watched him pull away through my side mirror: "That was stupid. I am not sure whether the car is still drivable." It was but I wasn't. I turned to the baby. I said: "Mummy's going to get the car down now." The baby, strapped into her seat, was also at a 45 degree angle. The green leaves of the hedge pushing against her window. She had enjoyed the ride so far. She beamed at me. Trembling slightly, I bumped the car down and took the road home very slowly. I was not that far from the cottage. I almost went in to ask my builders for a cup of sweet tea but I would have cried. I do not think you should cry in front of your builders unless the bill is unexpectedly large. The branches have whipped the side of the car and the passenger door is slightly dented. My husband is in London. I haven't told him yet.

I have had two previous car accidents. Once, a long, long time ago, I was crossing the country to visit a cousin with cancer when a sports car overtook me, only to clip the central barrier and spin across the motorway, coming to a halt side on, smack bang in front of me. Unavoidable. Unavoidable by me anyways. I was shaken up but fine; the car was a write-off. I made a mistake. I rang my cousin and explained what had happened. I had a choice: I could catch a train and go home or I could catch a train and finish the journey I had started. I went home. I should not have gone home. I should have gone on with my journey. My cousin died and I never got to see him.

The only other collision was also a very long time ago. I was late for a job. I was trying to sling the car into a car parking spot to run into a political meeting. I was not very good at parking. I reversed. It is always advisable to look into your mirror before you reverse your car. I forgot the mirror trick. I reversed into someone's car. He was very nice about it; bearing in mind he had only bought it the week before. We swapped details and he rang me that night to ask me out on a date. I figured he was desperate, already trying out the "You'll never guess how grandma and I met kids" line in his head, or, very stupid to want to date a woman who had reversed into his new car. Possibly all three. I turned him down.

23 comments:

MerylF said...

I would have gone on the date.

aims said...

Maybe the sheep did send him ....

If you had gone on the date - imagine what fun you would have had - you could have pulled all kinds of tricks - and gotten away with them....

I was expecting you to say you married him tho.....

Paradise Lost In Translation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paradise Lost In Translation said...

So was I! Along the lines of

"Reader I married him"

But then this isn't Charlotte Bronte is it?

I Beatrice said...

Good story. Well, several good stories in fact.

And I too had been going to produce the "Reader I married him" line...

It reminds me of a party I was at in Chiswick long ago. A houseful of NZders (not all of them All Blacks!). We didn't know that when you set up a band on the landing of a semi-detached house in London, it had unfortunate repercussions in the landing next-door.

The police were called in -and after the necessary warnings, just thought they'd stay on for the party anyway.

The result? Yes: "Reader, one of the NZ girls really did marry one of the policemen!"

mutterings and meanderings said...

Top tip for driving on narrow country lanes - look over the hedge when approaching bends as well as at the road ...

rilly super said...

wifey, perhaps your husband should have one of those 'how am I driving' phone numbers stencilled on your car the next time he takes it to the garage for petrol.

wife in the north said...

Strangely enough, how I fell in love with my husband does have something to do with the crash in which I wrote off the car. That's a story for another day though.
re mutterings and meanderings: I know that. It is a vey particular stretch which has high hedges. I was not driving along thinking about whether my hips were too big for me to wear a tweed skirt. Honest.

Stay at home dad said...

Fortunately I don't have a tweed skirt, but I find whether or not I look over hedges, hoot, crawl, there's always someone roaring around country lanes who knows the road better then I do.

Hope you are feeling better and I greatly enjoyed 'chagrin everywhere'...

Kaycie said...

There is something extra scary about a car accident when your baby is in tow. I was once hit from behind while sitting stock still at a drive up window with my firstborn in her car seat. I remember watching her sleep that night and wondering whether or not whiplash would ruin her life. She's 16 now and doesn't seem much worse for the wear.

The Grocer said...

Getting all defensive aboot the North, you might find that your drunk was a soft Southerner on holiday struggling to cope with unwatered down beer. We see an increase in alcohol related issues in the Summer months many from visitors as opposed to locals.

Iota said...

It's marvellous to be British isn't it? I was on a narrow country lane when a driver coming in the opposite direction at some horrendous speed lost control and slammed into me. A minute later, the scene must have been very odd. She was limping around, I had a gash on my forehead and was trying to calm my screaming toddler, the cars were wrecks, but we still managed to have that "are you ok? yes, I'm fine" conversation.

jane said...

The first car accident I ever had was two weeks after passing my driving test. I was picking my brother up, or supposed to be, from a designated spot in town. The first time past the place he wasn't there so I had to go round the block again if I was to avoid parking. Next time round, there he was, but unfortunately so was a stationary bread van. I hit it at full speed with a resounding crunch,and when finally disentangled began to yell at my brother that it was his fault for not being at there in the first place. Finally he said "It's not my fault, you could have braked" - hell, why didn't I think of that?

Elsie Button said...

narrow lanes would be ok if everyone didn't drive 4 x bloody 4s. the amount of times i have had to reverse in my little skoda for a 4x4 - swerving all over the shop, making a complete tit of myself and then getting stuck in a ditch (i can't reverse), and the 4x4 passengers (kids) laughing and pointing as they drive past me.

Norman said...

Road traffic affrays can be quite scary. The worst is the way memory keeps giving you a re-run.
And Elsie Button, I take your point about SUV drivers. I had one met me in Longsleddale in the Lakes. His wheels were on each verge the road was that narrow. I did not reverse for him. I was on a motorbike! The lane was too narrow to turn the bike round so the SUV had to reverse and a right pig's ear he made of it too! But that's another tale....
Have a stiff black coffee on me, WITN, and don't dwell on the "what ifs".

merry weather said...

Great driving wifey and you stayed calm too.... respect !

lisa said...

how interesting to find you writing about car accidents and visits, yesterday my brother-in-law called to say a friend was here in Montgomery and had been in an accident (5 cars on I85 hers in the middle) and could I help find someone to check her car,was it safe to continue on her way to North Carolina to deliver her daughter to camp and herself to a silent retreat in the Pisgah National Forest. No it was not! so after hours on the phone with repair people, insurance people,and finally rental car people we thought she was ready to continue, but it was late, so she and her daughter stayed the night with us,it was a blessing to have them in our home. The day had been such an ordeal for this sweet spirited artist, yet I know she will continue and find the rest she needs... did I mention she is from New Orleans?

Poetess said...

I too had a car accident. It left me not able to walk for 3 years and I had to move from the Lake District to the south so that I could get specialist treatment. Ten years on I am walking but still trying to rehabilitate myself from so long in bed. I now like you have to get used to the culture shock from moving from all you know and love. I have swapped a serene peaceful landscape to a hustling bustling town where foxes sleep in my garden. How crazy is that. In all the time I lived in the country I only ever saw a fox when my uncle took me hunting, much to my horror. Now they sunbathe along side me in the garden.

I really enjoy reading your blog and I'm pleased your ok after your brush with the hedgerows.

Poetessxx

@themill said...

A blackbird flew into our window and completely shattered it. Old glass is very thin. Is this a possibility? Tho' after night out in Alnwick last night quite believe it could be a drunk local.

Omega Mum said...

The most mortifying driving accident I ever had was when I was teaching my sister. In fact, I'd just taken back the wheel as there was a tricky bit coming up. Then I impaled the car on a wall and had to ask a troupe of builders to remove it. Over twenty years on, it's all etched in my mind. Especially my little sister's expression.

laurie said...

a powerful post, laced with dark humor. (you shouldn't cry in front of the builders unless the bill is very high.)

brought back vivid memories of a car accident i was in, many years ago, on a very snowy highway in northern minnesota. i started to slide toward the water-filled ditch on the right, over-corrected, spun across the oncoming lane (fortunately nobody was coming), and slid down into the ditch on that side and miraculously landed between two trees.

banged my head badly on the steering wheel.

staggered out of the snow-slick ditch and flagged down a passing patrol car. he rolled down his window and said, "there'a convenience store about half a mile down the road," and then drove on.

so i sat in the back of the 7-11 holding a bag of frozen peas to my bruise until someone could come and get me.

it's shocking how alone we can be when something like this happens.

Marianne said...

I thought that sort of encounter only happened between the pages of a book. It certainly never happens to me.

I have had so many near misses in my time driving on narrow country lanes, been driven off the road several times, been stranded in a ditch hidden by foliage, stuck in deep mud after I pulled over for a 4x4, which drove on leaving me in the middle of no-where, on my own, been hauled out by passing chaps with ropes and tow bars - they love that sort of thing - it makes them go all macho. Only one really nasty one, which I wrote about recently, when we did turn over, with toddler in the back seat. No-one ever asked me out as a result of my car scrapes though.

Motheratlarge said...

Oh, Wife in the North! How awful about the accident. Sorry to hear that.

Sure you were right about turning the other guy down, whose car you scratched, not that you need me to say that! Set-up sounds a little too predictable for you. I get the impression you prefer more excitement in your life! Well, judging by willingness to move half-way across country, brave deepest rural Northumberland, etc.