Tuesday April 26, 2005
I was tip-tap-tapping at the keyboard, full speed ahead, totally engrossed in my early morning writing session, almost at the end of the first draft, when I heard the unmistakeable sound of a full-scale foot-tapping from the doorway into the newly-painted study.
“You do realise we should be leaving in five minutes?”
I looked at the clock, which seemed somehow to have jumped forward a full hour, filled with shame and gulped. “Oh, bother. Yes, sorry, I’ll be ready just as soon as I possibly can.” And so, mid-sentence, I clicked on ‘save’, shut the computer down and dashed off to get sluiced and spruced, ready to go.
It was about 07:10, ten minutes after the target we’d set for being on the road, when I yelled: “I’m ready.”
“Right then. Let’s go do IKEA.”
It wasn’t a bad drive. I went faster than normal, not stupidly so but enough not to hinder commuters on their way to urgent things. Did pretty well, considering, keeping up with the flow. Even so there were the usual total loonies rushing to get to where-ever sooner than legal speed limits allowed. One in particular, a big brand-new shiny red Toyota saloon, darn near shoved me off the road in his haste to overtake not just me but some four or five cars in a bunch behind a horse box. He just about scraped through before oncoming traffic came into sight, rounding a curve.
“How fast do you reckon he was going?” asked Graham.
“I’m a shade over the 50 limit here so I suspect he was doing close to 80. Perhaps more.”
“You said it, buster. I’m glad he’s in front, though. Didn’t feel comfortable with him on my tail.”
“He’ll get his just deserts.”
“Like as not,” I said, and pressed on, happily dismissing Mr Hasty from my thoughts.
Some way further on we were flashed by several drivers coming towards us. I acknowledged with a salute, took it to indicate there was a police speed trap ahead, glanced at my speedometer and was reassured to find I was driving just under the speed limit. Even so, I eased off, just in case. The gap between me and the vechicle in front widened and then, as we rounded a corner, suddenly diminished. I slowed, slowed some more, and then, as the queue ahead came to a halt, stopped in good time and in good order. As did the car behind. And the car behind him.
“Can you see what’s up from your side?” I asked.
Graham wound his window down, stuck his head out, and had a good look. “Nope,” he said. “It goes round the corner out of sight.”
“Ah well. Can I have a peppermint, please?”
And we eased forward, one car length at a time, still reasonably happy we were ahead of schedule and that our IKEA breakfast was not under threat.
Then, rounding the corner, we saw the reason for the hold up. There were three or four cars, each crunched into the one before and, a few feet ahead of them, the brand-new shiny Toyota, on its side, wrapped around a tree. On the opposite side a black car, badly battered, was shoved into the road side, leaving one vechicle-width of road between them to allow a one-by-one exchange of traffic to slide past. Standing all about were people talking into their mobile phones and a few more useful souls were doing their best to apply first aid and see the traffic through safely.
“I’m afraid that Mr Hasty has got his just deserts rather sooner than might be expected,” I said, quietly.
Graham glanced across at me, checking to see if I was upset. I wasn’t. Quietened, but not upset. “Had to happen.” And then, as we slipped past and hit the open road again, “Just you watch your speed.”
“Don’t I always?”
The rest of the journey was uneventful and I’d forgotten the incident. It stayed forgotten in fact until I sat down to write about the day. Rather solemn-making, seeing something like that, and I can’t help but be chastened a little at the thought of all the times in the past when I was always in a hurry, taking stupid risks on the road and never once getting so much as a scratch. I used to say that my accident-free record was due to my incredible driving skills. Twaddle. I got away with it, nothing more.
Anyway, we got to IKEA just about five minutes before the store opened at 10:00, slid into the restaurant, and grabbed our breakfast. Graham had his favourite sausage-inna-bun and I was all set to have my normal breakfast plate when I noticed that they now do a ‘big’ breakfast for an extra 85p. Guess what I had? Well, I did miss out on my breakfast at home, and I had just driven for two and a half hours in heavy traffic, so I deserved it. Twaddle again. A different kind of twaddle, but not so very different, not when you come down to it.
Hey ho. I don’t have a cooked breakfast often enough to do any real harm and my incredible digestion skills will keep me accident-free. Possibly.
|The newly-painted study