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.