One of my cousins (English) lives in Melbourne with her husband, (English) and their son (English citizen, US citizen because of being born in Arizona, Australian citizen – fancy having three nationalities!). Her husband Simon (another Simon, there are a number in the family) was offered a visiting professorship in Lancaster for a couple of years and took it up. She and their son joined him for a year, in which the rest of the UK had a months long insanely hot and horribly dry but very fine summer, while the folks up in Lancaster somehow or other experienced endless rain and cold. The suggestion was floated that this move back to the UK might become permanent but neither my cousin nor her son could abide the idea (I don’t think Simon cared for it that much either, but his elderly and frail parents are here).
So Judy and James went back to Melbourne a year ago, and Simon went back to his permanent professorship at Melbourne University at the end of May this year, leaving behind a 12 year old Honda Civic Hybrid, which he offered to me at a ridiculous peppercorn price.
Now prior to this the youngest car I had ever owned was already at least 16 years old at the time of purchase, and back in May this year I was driving a 22 year old VW Polo lacking both central locking and power steering. So I accepted with delight. And took possession and started paying (from a position of absolutely flat broke even a peppercorn price is not that easy to manage), and put the Polo up on Facebook where two potential takers failed to take it.
As my dearest friend was being treated for very recently diagnosed stage 4 cancer, dealing with the sale of the Polo was the last thing on my mind so I took it off the road and uninsured it, and drove the Honda up to North Wales and back several times to see her, enjoying the leather seats, the fact that as a hybrid it was considerably ecologically sounder than my poor little Polo, the decent radio which stayed tuned beyond Newbury (the Polo’s radio just does white noise anywhere further north unless you want very loud pop music) and the good sound system, and the fact that it was divinely comfortable for long trips (it’s an automatic).
Well, Dilys died in mid-June, after a back operation in March which had led to the diagnosis of secondary spinal cancer, followed by two months of ever stronger painkillers but only a week and a half into actual targeted cancer treatment, following a terrifyingly long delay in diagnosis of the primary cancer, which may have possibly contributed to this heartbreaking outcome. She was 73, just four and a half years older than me. She was loving, fiercely intelligent, hugely interested in everyone and everything, energetic and courageous and upbeat and a source of absolute joy and inspiration.
She was not ready to die. I miss her more than I can say.
Nothing further to relate about either the Polo or the Honda till a week and a half ago. The Polo was still off the road and I’d been thinking I really needed to get it sold. I’d actually valeted it, which was very hard work indeed.
Half term began for me at 7pm on Friday 25th October when I made my escape from work and came home, shattered. The plan was to spend Saturday at home and then drive up to North Wales on Sunday to stay with Dilys’s husband, and then go on to my Mum in Yorkshire.
At 9pm I decided to head off for bed and was in my bedroom when I heard a colossal crash outside. I looked out and there was a car in immediate contact with the Honda. So I rushed downstairs and out, into cold rain, to find a scene of devastation. A dark green Mercedes was lying diagonally, rear in the road, front half mounted onto the pavement and the other half smashed into a Volvo. (In the picture below, taken the next morning, it had been moved, probably by the police, so as not to be projecting into the road.) The rear of the Merc was a disaster. So was the bonnet.
The Volvo was sandwiched between the Merc and my Honda; it and the Honda were lying crushed nose to nose. My Honda had evidently been shunted backwards and a blue Skoda was lying diagonally some distance behind it, having also been shunted but luckily not damaged, as it was quite light and there was nobody parked behind it so it was just bounced out of position.
The driver and vehicle which had engineered this multiple car pile-up were nowhere to be seen, as the driver had failed to stop. Luckily there was a witness who said it was a white transit van. Even more luckily, as all of the cars were parked (legally, safely…) and empty, nobody was hurt. With the possible exception of the van driver who, I fervently hope, has extremely bad whiplash. A business-owned Ford transit damaged in exactly the right place to be the guilty vehicle was photographed the next day in an adjacent street, so fingers very tightly crossed..
The Skoda got driven away and I didn’t get the details so I assume it was ok. All the remaining three cars are, from an insurance point of view, write-offs. That’s quite an achievement, isn’t it; write off three parked cars and drive away. I’m currently trying to get mine repaired, assuming that all the parts can be obtained. The radiator is a gonner, so is the front bar of the chassis; the bonnet needs hammering back into shape, the front panel with the registration number will have to be replaced, and then there are all the little bits and pieces that join all the separate bits up together. Will it happen? Will the insurance company pay me enough for it to be affordable?
So I’m back to the Polo. Thank goodness I hadn’t sold it. I finally made it away from home on Wednesday, so I couldn’t go up to Wales; I went straight up to Yorkshire, and came home yesterday, dumped my luggage and drove to the supermarket to get some groceries, where I locked myself out of the car! You can’t actually lock yourself out of the Honda, it has central locking so without the key in your hand, it can’t be done. But it’s as easy as pie with the Polo – just throw your handbag onto the passenger seat and lock the door! Ever felt stupid? Ever felt really REALLY stupid?
All is now well; I walked through the rain to my friend’s, who is a key holder for me, and then walked back home through the rain, fed the cat and called the AA, who rescued me by opening the car with an Ingenious Device.
But it feels like there must be a third thing waiting to happen. Please not!