All that talk over at JJ's about cars, parking tickets, etc, jolted my memories of some of my own car problems of the past . . .
Car trouble 1 - Take, for instance, the morning I was taking the boy to his nursery and, on turning the corner into the street where the car was parked, found that the car was in pieces all over the road. I then phoned the police and told them where the car was and what state it was in only to be told that I would have to appear at the local cop station in person as they don't do visits for car crime (as this is what we thought it was at the time). So, after walking to the nursery (well, the exercise done me good), I take a stroll to the cop shop and make a formal statement about the smashed car (which, incidentally, looked like a right off - correct assumption we were later informed by kindly mechanic). All the necessaries done (with full description of car, where it was, when I found it like that, etc etc), I go back home, when, a few minutes after I got in, knock on door. It's a neighbour who I have never spoken to before who tells me that the car was, in fact, smashed into by a police car going the wrong way up this one-way street as they pursued, we later found out, a car thief who was out of his face on speed/Es/coke (not really sure what it was, but reliably informed that he was totally wasted on some sore of recreational medicine). This pursuit had everyone outside except the residents of my place (we are sound sleepers). Neighbours had told the coppers whose car it was but they didn't seem too bothered about either knocking on the door or, even, of slipping a note through the letter-box. So, on receiving this news, I phone cop shop and ask what the fuck is going on only to hear the response: "Oh, THAT car?" Arseholes. Anyway, car was a right off and we couldn't fucking claim on the insurance because we had to wait until the junkie tosser's court case (yes, they eventually caught him) was over as liability for whose insurance company was to pay up couldn't be settled until he was found guilty! Insurance companies - also tossers! Our insurance wouldn't pay out as the smashed car was obviously not our fault. Police insurance wouldn't pay out as they were pursuing a felon. And bloke whose car was nicked wouldn't pay out until guilt was established. Other problem arose when smashed car was nicked while waiting for one of the bastard insurance companies to take it away. Prime suspects for this one - all those breakers' yards in Cold Blow Lane and elsewhere in the vicinity.
Car trouble 2 - hearing car alarm go off and going outside and finding two blokes running away after smashing window. On pursuing the two blokes, I realised one was rather large. That I caught up with him made me really scared. That he evaded my rather weak grasp made me really happy. Coppers telling me how stupid I was for chasing them made me feel, well, really stupid.
Car trouble 3 - the ex and her mum experiencing driving on the M1 with burst tyre and evading death from oncoming lorry by mere centimetres.
Car trouble 4 (and this is a long one) - we decided (well, the ex decided as I didn't "do" decisions) not to take out AA cover before our driving holiday to France as, well, we wasted that money the previous five trips. There we are on our happy holds, on the way to the Vendee region when something weird happens and smoke bellows from car. We stop on hard shoulder of the motorway. We are at least 100 miles from our destination. We don't know what to do. We don't have fucking AA cover. French mechanics patrolling other carriageway shout something in French (well, it is their country, after all) and wave and make a sign to say: "stay there!" Well, with no funtioning car of our own, we ain't fucking going anywhere. Mechanics in lorry eventually turn up and start speaking in French. We don't know how to speak French (she, because Spanish is her game and me, well, now wish I had not played truant so much). One word we do understant is "kaput" as mechanic is looking at the engine. He then phones his garage and hands us the phone to speak to woman there who tells us to accompany mechanic back to garage and we can sort stuff out there. All three of us - me, the ex and the boy - don't know what the fuck to think but to the garage we go while car is hoisted on back of this lorry. Garage folk tell us they will have to have a look at the car and then tell us what should be done - this will take a couple of hours. We walk off to cafe in this little village which has one cafe and, of course, a garage - not a lot else. The cafe has stopped serving food for the day, so it's a drink and a packet of crisps. The ex decides to phone her brother for an opinion on this car business, but the brother, rather discuss car problems tells her that her dad was rushed to hospital that morning having suffered two heart attacks. This is now worse than a nightmare. We gather ourselves while seeming to act brave for the boy (we have put on a tremendous show, btw, as will be demonstrated later) and head back to the garage. Staff there tell us that the car is a right off. We are stunned. We don't know what the fuck to do. The garage folk suggest we hire a car from them. We search our purses, wallets, luggage etc - quite bizarrely, we have come to France without either of our driving licences (you cannot hire a car without one). So, no care, hundred miles from campsite, no fucking licences, so we have to hire a taxi to take not only us but all our luggage (this, btw, is the holiday when we had just purchased luggage rack for car roof, so we have not only clothing, but also the boy's scooter, bike, bbq gear and all sorts of shit. We pack as much as possible into people carrier taxi and carry on with our journey, with the ex, meanwhile and quite obviously, worried sick about her dad. But not before garage people tell us that we shall have to return and do the official and legal paperwork that is required to take car off the road. We don't know if we are being ripped off and simply have to take their assessment of the car. Get to the campsite, eventually, where we have to pay taxi driver £150 or thereabouts. But at least we are there and the weather is lovely and there is a shop which sells beer and lots of beer is then consumed by all (except, of course, the boy, who has gone off and instantly made friends, who he hangs about with for the duration of the holiday). Phone calls are then made home and we get someone to post our driving licences. We enquire over the next few days at the camp site's reception and are told that nothing has arrived. Friend back home assures us that they were posted. We enquire again and again at reception until very fucking rude receptionist says, okay, "we did get this envelope a couple of days ago but thought you'd ask for it." That we had asked for it over the previous 48 hours is ignored. We have driving licences and get to hire a car. First things first, get back to the village where the car is - it's a day trip, btw. Get back there and get taken to breaker's yard where car is already smashed to smithereens and paperwork is signed, sealed and delivered! Our holiday commences. We get as much stuff as possible back to Calais in hired car, but have to leave a few things behind, including quite an expensive bbq, but, as we are travelling back on ferry as foot passengers, no alternative. We get across the Chanel and are last to walk through customs when the shit bag in the uniform decides that we are the chosen ones for a search. To say that we are fucked by this stage is an understatement. We eventually get through, get to Dover train station and head for home. We get through the door, we are knackered, this holiday has cost us a car, hundreds of pounds on taxis and hire cars and train tickets from Dover to London. The ex finds out that her dad is still in hospital. We collapse on the sofa. "What a fucking nightmare," we both say at just about the same time. The boy looks at us as if we are mad and shouts out: "But that was the best holiday EVER!" Kids are weird, man!
Car trouble 5 - car being stolen and insurance not paying out until it has been missing for 28 days. On day 28, I find it a few streets away and decide to say nothing - well, it was a right fucking wreck!
*Adam and the Ants - reminds me, must download Kings of the Wild Frontier, totally classic album!