Friday, February 06, 2009

That Was The Day That Was

Boy am I glad to be home! I checked all the motorway forecasts, right up to the second I left, and was driving cautiously along in the fast lane of the M1 when my windscreen wipers just stopped working. The combination of falling snow and spray from the road meant it was a nightmare to get on to the hard shoulder but I did and called the AA, knowing I was in for a bit of a wait. They told me to get out of my car, and that I'd have to wait about an hour.
I had a blanket and two pairs of gloves so I stood just the other side of the barrier and waited. A series of lorries whooshed past and hooted (why thanks, guys). A man stopped and gave me an umbrella but I sent him away after thanking him profusely, because even serial rapists smile when they say hello.
After an hour standing in the freezing slush, I called the AA again, and they told me they were sending another company to pick me up, and I'd have to wait 35 minutes. Why didn't they tell me? The people could have turned up and I would have thought exactly what I thought when the kind man or serial rapist stopped to give me the umbrella!
The police passed and stopped, twice.
Two hours: I saw the other company's truck go swishing past obliviously. They had promised me I was next on the list. I called the AA again and they said they'd chase them up. More lorries roared past and hooted. My boots were soaked through and my hands were too cold to dial numbers; my well-designed handset connected me to the internet over and over again instead of letting me make calls. I couldn't hear when the phone rang anyway because the road was so noisy.
I called the AA again to ask where the nearest services were, because by this time I felt that taking the risk of driving totally blindly was better than freezing to death. This time, they did something, and said that one of their guys would be there in 20 minutes.
The police passed by yet again and told me to get into the car and put the heating on, even though it is dangerous to be in a car on the hard shoulder. I climbed over the crash barrier, slipped in the slush and fell flat in the filthy wet mush and when I got into the car I looked in the rear view mirror. My face was actually blue!
At last, a friendly AA man turned up, and lo and behold! so did the company that were supposed to be rescuing me. The AA man guessed that they were there because they sniffed a bit of business fixing my wipers and he sent them away; when he realised he couldn't mend them there and then, with the traffic scalping his posterior, we drove in convoy along the hard shoulder into Tesco at Dunstable where I sat in the cafe waiting for someone to take me and the stricken car back home.
Meanwhile, Martin in Ross-shire had been snowed in but had decided to try to get to Sheffield as we thought it might be nice if we played together in the second half of the concert and he has a gig in Leicester tomorrow night. He had thought he was unable to get out on to the main road, but by 11 o'clock managed to do it, and at this moment he is heading there, to do the gig with my blessing. I am so sad not to be there but so very glad to be somewhere warm and dry and quiet!
BOO to The AA organisation (lone woman traveller outside her car on extremely dangerous motorway in extremely dangerous weather for nearly three and a half hours), three cheers to the AA man for trying to mend my car and being polite and safety-conscious to a fault!


Blogger Brother Tobias said...

Helen, what a nightmare! Something similar happened to me once driving back from the Highlands in snow, and I remember just how cold, and tired and despondent I became (but I was about 27, and a bloke, and it was a lease car which somehow made it better). Hope you are fully recovered.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

That sounds awful. Really glad you are ok and got home safely in the end.
Sarah x

12:44 AM  

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