Monday 4 January 2010

Festive Carry On

Christmas and Hogmanay were rather splendid this year.


My love affair with old machinery ended this Christmas Eve on the hard shoulder between the M6 and the M62. The RAC got us off the motorway to a siding by a land fill site... "You'll be fine here, they're not working tonight. Recovery lorry should be here soon". How soon? "About an hour". Tell us the truth, we can take it. "Well, could be nearer two". It was.

We hadn't been there long when a car pulled in beside us. It lingered then left. Soon after a van pulled in. I became paranoid we were in some Lancashire dogging hotspot and uttered the immortal line... "Quick, start acting normal"... You should try it, in the dark, on Christmas Eve, next to a landfill site. I pretended to read my tattered road atlas, then panicked that this act might be some sort of secret dogging code. I was only able to think of one other 'normal' activity, so got out of the car 'to stretch my legs'.... immediately plunging knee deep into a slushy hole. From inside the car I could hear "Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time" playing on the radio for the 44th time that day.

A succession of drivers called Dave, Nige and Paul took us between service stations, depots and places even locals probably don't know exist.

We picked up someone called Tom from Southport who'd also broken down. Together, on an industrial estate built among the remnants of a World War Two airbase outside Stafford, we watched Stephen Fry cross America without breaking down.

Judging from the sound emitted, I'd say I was the first person to EVER ask for a tea without milk or sugar in the Birmingham Egertons depot. But they obliged.

Our final driver was a bruiser of a guy with a penchant for smoking and Cher. We hurtled towards Wales through freezing fog and black ice to the sound of 'If I Could Turn Back Time'... you couldn't make it up. At five past midnight, amid flashing lights and warning alarms, we made our discreet arrival.

This time the cliche was true. Never has a drink tasted so good...

The wine came from Tanners. It's still a baby and tasted immortal.
The native oysters were bought from Vin Sullivan and tasted divine.

UPDATE: Should probably have mentioned the problem with the car was that one of the wheel bearings went... nothing to do with the exhaust. Age is alas taking it's toll on my 'future classic'.

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