As I awoke at dawn’s crack one misty morning in Scotland I reminded myself of my reasoning behind this gut wrenchingly early departure.
- I would not be getting into London at rush hour
- I would be able to empty my mother’s freezer of all its contents before she woke up and would therefore be able to eat for a further two weeks.
- I would be able to go and do a house viewing and ensure I would not have to continue living in a dungeon. (basement flat)
I hurled a cup of coffee down my throat and set off into the day/night. Having just had my car serviced, I felt confident that this journey would be quick, without interruption and was hoping to be in London in time to attend a friend’s drinks party…How wrong I was.
It happened in a matter of moments, one minute I was cruising down the M6, the next I was sitting on the hard shoulder. I hurriedly telephoned the AA who implored me to ‘Get out of your vehicle immediately!’ I pondered whether they were aware it was minus three and duly did as I was told. Apparently as a lone woman on the hard shoulder you come under the category of ‘high priority.’
40 minutes later, I couldn’t feel my face, my phone had ran out of battery and I feared that I would never be found. Lo and behold, a tap on the shoulder…
‘Er, hi…who are you?’
‘I’m here to pick you up.’ I examined the lorry in front of me and confirmed it to be neither yellow nor emblazoned with the label AA.
'Um, no thank you, I’m waiting for the AA.’
'I am from the AA’
‘No, you’re not.’
Apparently the AA contract out others on busy days. I was not aware of this obviously, but eventually, having spoken to the AA and looked at a lot of documentation I agreed to sit in Pete’s lorry while he lifted my car. Pete was listening to an album which can only have been called, ‘American classics,’ and so we departed, listening to ‘the boys are back in town’ on repeat.
The nearest lay by was in Preston, which is apparently near Blackpool. In Preston they have pubs in lay bys, something I have never seen before and so I sought shelter in an enormous 'wetherspoons’ which was incongruently attached to a childrens’ play area. Pete eventually decided that the problem was with my coil. My mind reeling with images of scary looking prophylactics we headed to the nearest Volkswagen dealership. Four new coils later, the ignition was showing no signs of starting. Pete conceded that there was nothing that could be done and explained that an actual AA man would be coming to tow my car back to London at a maximum of 50 miles per hour.
I politely declined to take Pete’s number, in case I wanted a chat on the way down and proceeded to sit in my car, in the car park.
3 hours later, the AA had still not arrived, I charged my phone in the car, thus running the battery dead and phoned again. I explained my predicament to the youth on the other end of the phone who replied, ‘Oh yeah, the girl with the coil.’ I politely explained that it was not actually the coil that was at fault but in fact something much more serious. I tried to stress the urgency of my journey to the youth but all I was greeted with was,
(attempting to mutter under his breath) ‘Whatever.’ People who cant whisper shouldn’t try and I was not about to let this go.
I heard that’
‘I heard that, I heard you say whatever you little *#~!”*…….my phone battery died mid rant and I continued my wait.
FINALLY, the AA man arrived, he suggested that he give the car once over and despite my insistence that it was completely broken he lifted up my bonnet. One minute later he had removed a piece of plastic from his pocket, muttered about a fuse and declared me road worthy. I questioned how I would go about lodging a complaint about the previous rescue attempt and was directed towards three faces at the bottom of my receipt.
'If you’re not happy, just tick the sad face.’
Livid and knackered, I pulled out of the car park, desperate to get out of Preston. Realising that I should alert my parents to the fact that I was back on the road I answered a phone call from my father.
Sirens…yes, sirens. Three points on my license and a £60 fine later, I got back onto the M6. I was making good progress as I hurtled onto the M40, realising that I had been in the car for 10 hours and would probably complete my journey in 12.
I should have been so lucky. Some joker had decided to close the M40. Anyone who knows me will be aware that I have the sense of direction of a gnat and that one diversion sign will not be enough to get me back on track. After three more hours trying to work out how to onto the A34 and then the M4, I pulled over in a lay by and cried. After finally working out where to get back onto the motorway, someone had crashed, and there was another diversion.
I had to call in the big guns. I phoned my mum. Our initial travel lodge plan was scuppered by the fact that I am allergic to the washing powder used in cheap hotels and would have to return to London with a rash. Mum therefore opened up a road map at the table at a diner party and, together, her and her friends started mapping out my journey home.
I confessed that I didn’t know if I could go on as my morale was so low but mum, yet again, came to the rescue…
“I’m not condoning this or anything, but I’m going to put £10 in your bank account, I want you to go into that service station, buy 20 marlboro lights, and smoke your way back to London!”
16 hours later, I saw the flyover, I wept literal tears of joy, which quickly dissolved into tears of sadness, when I realised that my stolen freezer goods had not survived the trip and that I would be living on tinned food from pound land for the indeterminable future.