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Monday, 21 January 2013

Beware the wum-wums...

I hate Mondays. Today has been a hum-dinger but I'm sure, one day, I will look back and smile wryly. One day...


Let me tell you my tale of Monday misfortune- and please try not to laugh.

Monday didn't start well. I find it hard to sleep on a Sunday night at the best of times; my brain whirs with everything I need to do, say or remember for the week- lesson plans, questions, shopping, appointments- the usual angst of a terminally-forgetful person. Monday usually wakes me early, and I've given up fighting it, so at 5am this morning I was sat working and looking out at the snow, wondering how long it would take me to get to school and how bad the roads would be.

My hair wouldn't behave, so I scraped it back into an untidy ponytail. My dress was creased, and I hate ironing, so I had to wear the trousers that I just KNEW were going to feel too tight after lunch. I felt tired already, and it was only 6:50am. I'd already received an email from my bank, informing me that I had no money, and that they were not impressed. The stupid radio man was wittering on and my car (Buttercup) needed de-icing. It was going to be one of those days.

I cleared the snow from the car and loaded up my Crate of Crap (an affectionate term: my crate is like a massive handbag on wheels full of vital things) into the boot, before pulling gently off from my drive.


I concentrated on negotiating the icy chicane that takes me out of my cul-de-sac and making it onto the main road. It was slow going, but I took it steadily and sensibly. I even managed to get into third gear.


I avoided the ice-rink to my right and drove straight on towards the safer but slightly longer route. I braked early and softly at the junction, looking carefully both ways before turning right onto a slushy but do-able road. I got up to 30 mph.


What WAS that annoying noise? Maybe I had some ice stuck in my wheel arch- I made a mental note to go over bumps. I waited for a safe gap at the end of the road, and eased out onto the gritted main route. Third gear, fourth... better put my foot down a little- cars are whizzing up behind me.


What IS that noise? Why am I not going any faster? And my steering wheel is pulling to the right. This isn't normal. The other drivers are wondering why I'm driving like an imbecile at 30 mph on a gritted road. I decided I'd better pull over.


I indicated right, turned off the main road, and drove down a little way to my Mum's house. I thought I could pull up there and check the car- see if I could work out what was wrong (like I know anything about cars).


I drew level with her house. Her lights were on; she was up. The snow was so deep I couldn't see the kerb. I decided not to guess where to pull over, but instead to reverse onto her drive. It made sense at the time. The wum-wum had quietened down now. I put the car in reverse, checked for traffic and pedestrians and turned gently, reversed slowly... the wheels span... I slid ... slid and crashed into her hedge.

I'm not ashamed to admit that, at this point, I let forth a stream of foul language that would make Withnail blush. I tried to pull forward- spinning tyres. I tried to reverse back and get further onto the drive so I could straighten up- the car skidded and fell down the small dip on the left, taking another chunk of hedge with it. More swearing. I tried moving forward- spinning tyres. I tried moving backwards- not an inch. I shouted more rude words and gave up. I got out of the car and shouted at it. I even shouted at the hedge. They weren't impressed and didn't move.

Mum, by this point, was at the door- wondering what the hell was going on. I yelled a garbled explanation as I rang for a lift. My luck was in. I arranged to meet Julie at the garage where I intended taking my car just as soon as I had removed it from the hedge. Mum offered to help, but she was still in her nightie and slippers. Bless her. I thanked her and said I'd be ok. I got back in the car and started her up. Gently... gently... Nothing but spinning tyres and an anxious Mum. More swearing.

I rang Julie back- could she pick me up from here? I'd have to dig my car out and take it to the garage tomorrow- I didn't have time now. I spent the journey to work worrying about my car and what was wrong with it, and how much it would cost to fix, and how I was going to get set up before the children arrived when I was an hour later than I'd intended to be. At school, I rang the garage. The nice man was very understanding when I described (with sound effects, much to the amusement of my colleagues) what had happened. He said I could leave the car with them tomorrow, and that it might be a brake-pad that was stuck. This was not good, according to my colleagues and more experienced drivers. The discs (?) might need replacing- there might be permanent and expensive damage. I swore again, but in my head this time, because I don't swear at school when children are around.

School itself was fine (the children were most amused that Miss West's car was in a hedge) and we had an extra playtime building snow-sculptures in the afternoon. Staff meeting was interesting and I wangled a lift back to Mum's. It was about 7pm when I got there. The car was still in the hedge. Mum made me a cup of tea before we attempted to dig the car out (I needed the sugar and sympathy). She'd even paid some money into my account so the bank wouldn't shout at me. Did I ever tell you how much I love my Mum? I do. Lots.

The snow had melted a fair bit on the drive, so we were hopeful of success. After a few hairy-scary minutes and more swearing, I eventually got the car out onto the road, managing to leave most of the hedge behind. I waved to Mum and trundled home slowly on the icy roads, to a persistent and increasing-


Two attempts at getting on my drive, but I made it, and I didn't even hit the fence. All I had to do tomorrow was get it off the drive again and to the garage. I kicked at the snow and ice to try and clear a path to make it easier. I checked for scratches where my car had had a close encounter with Mum's hedge- mercifully, it looked as if my little Buttercup was unscathed. Phew.

I was glad to be home safe, but intrigued. What would a stuck brake-pad look like? Could I poke it with something and unstick it? I prodded and felt around (like I know anything about cars) and found something even I recognised as not good.

Not "not good" in an expensive way, but "not good" in a "you bloody idiot" kind of way.

As I've said, I don't know anything about cars, but I didn't think tyres were supposed to move when you poked them. I pushed again, just to be sure. Yep, definite squishiness. I compared it to the other tyres- all firm and correct. I poked the front-right tyre one more time. And then did some more swearing.

A flat tyre?!?! All that hassle over a stupid flat tyre? The wum-wum and the pulling made sense now. At some point on the drive home on Friday, I'd obviously driven over something sharp which had punctured the tyre, and it had been slowly deflating all weekend. Come to think of it, there had been a bit of a funny noise on Friday...

My Mum thought it was hilarious. I'm sure everyone at work will too. I bet you did. I have to admit, now that I'm home and I know the car won't cost so much to fix that the bank will be disappointed in me again next month, it is kind of funny. In my defence, I've never had a flat tyre before, so I didn't know that's what they sound like. I bet you all guessed though. Another experience to add to my list. Talking of things I've never experienced before...

Now I have to change the tyre... any offers?


  1. Oh Lou only you could turn a very stressful day into an amusing blog and I do know how much you love me , its as much as I love you. X x

  2. Oh Lou, what a nightmare, but smiling here too. xxx

    1. My tales of trials and tribulations are a constant source of amusement to my friends! I like to share ; ) xxx


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