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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 02, 2005

Somewhere between heaven and woolworth's, a song

I half wrote a song earlier in the week. Had two verses, quite good ones I thought. The only thing I got stuck on was the last line of each verse, which I wanted to be "And I am on my way to..." ...a place yet to be determined. To scan right, it wanted to be two syllables, though I could get away with 3, if they are the right kind of syllables.

Anyway, I was almost singing, "And I am on my way to heaven", but that's more or less exactly what I didn't want to say, and as I was thinking it, I thought, it's really tempting fate to write a line like that.

Superstitious, moi?

Older readers will know that I'm used to shitty driving conditions on the motorway, take it all in my stride. It's been bad lately, what with the freezing temperatures, and fog, and then - as it started to get damp - the after effects of grit/salt on the road, spraying up and covering your car with gunk. I've seen several completely blacked out number plates, these last few days.

Last night was particularly bad, I thought. Lots of spray, dark, raining, too much traffic, and very poor visibility as my rear window was blurred with rain, and the wing mirrors were quickly opaque, even though I wiped them a couple times and had the mirror heater on.

But the end was near, I'd just gone past junction 19 of the m1, southbound, where the motorway shrinks to two lanes in order for traffic from the M6 to join, and I was planning, as usual, to leave at Junction 18. As I was motoring down the slow 2-lane stretch (max speed was 60-65 mph, max speed all the way home was 70 - it was impossible to do more), I noticed a National Express coach doing a lot of overtaking. I don't know if those things are supposed to have limiters, but they should have.

Still, the coach kept swinging out and the traffic was queuing behind it, and it so happened that when the motorway was 3 lanes again, I was coming up to the back of it.

I was still doing about 65, and I was overtaking a lorry (articulated refrigerated transport HGV), but trying to maintain a safe distance behind the coach, which I was sure was going to swing out again. As I was approaching J18, I'd decided to overtake this lorry, and probably the one in front of it, and then pull in to the inside lane for the last mile or so, leaving the coach to its own devices.

The lorry I was overtaking was Spanish, LHD, and he obviously didn't know I was still under his front wheel when he pulled out. He nerfed my back end, and the car yawed and spun, 180 degrees on the wet road. Luckily, I spun towards the hard shoulder rather than the outside lane, though I did spin in front of the lorry that had nudged me. I ended up, facing backwards, on the hard shoulder. Came to a fairly safe halt, though I'm not sure if I hit anything else.

The whole thing was a blur, no time to think. Somehow I think my foot found the brake, and somehow no other vehicles got involved. But as I stopped, the truck crunched to a halt beside me, doing damage to the whole length of the left-hand side of the car and smashing the rear light cluster.

Of course, he didn't speak any english, and I didn't speak any spanish. He looked a bit like my French father-in-law, which is possibly why I kept speaking french to him, even though I knew he was spanish. Anyway, I got his number plate, and I hope I got his insurance policy number, and - thank god for the internet - I managed to find the address and telephone number of the transport company, based on the details I scribbled down.

I turned the car round and drove to the emergency phone. It didn't feel quite right, I think it may be distorted somehow, so I wasn't sure about driving home. Phone Volkswagen Emergency Assistance. Top marks to them. At 6.30, they told me someone would pick me up within the hour. At 7.45 I phoned to check up on them and was told they were "on schedule" to be with me at ten past 8. By this time I'd been hanging around at the side of the motorway, mostly standing in long, wet grass in nubuck shoes, since about five past 6. And somewhere in the confusion, I lost my hat, so I was cold, wet, and miserable and decided, at hearing how much longer the pickup was going to be, to risk driving home.

So I did that. The car could go in a straight line and round corners, though I didn't risk it over 50 mph. It felt skittish and slightly odd, but then that might have been me.

What went through my mind? Not a lot. Not Bruce Forsyth saying, "Give as a twirl, Anthea," and not my life flashing before my eyes. A giant question mark, maybe. How many times will I spin, is the lorry going to crush me, am I going to die, that kind of thing. "And I am on my way to..." banish the thought.


  • Jeeze! That was a close one.

    It's like Neil said; you can be the best driver in the world but it really doesn't matter because everybody else isn't and it will be one of them who gets you.

    You okay?

    By Blogger SimonHolyHoses, at 2:28 am  

  • I'm fine, I think. I didn't sleep very well and I've got a sore throat. The only other thing is trying to work out if my stiff neck is my usual stiff-ish neck, or accident-related. My right arm feels a bit heavy, but I just don't know really.

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 2:38 am  

  • that would be a sick irony if you had copped it at the hands of one of those hgv arseholes.

    if you can stretch to three syllables, have you considered "milton keynes"?

    By Blogger dog, at 2:43 am  

  • Yes, but Milton Keynes is a positive for me and a negative for most other people. Also "keynes" is too long a last syllable.

    I think I'm going to end up with "Saint Remy," which is a partial name that could also be just about anywhere - whilst still having positive associations for me.

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 3:02 am  

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