Driving on the M1 last Friday afternoon I found myself in the fast lane overtaking a lorry, when over and above the sound of King Adora (the band I was en route to see) I became aware of a Very Loud Noise. ‘WTF?’ I asked myself. I hoped it was the lorry. I got past the lorry but the noise was still there. As I moved in front of the lorry it flashed me. When the guy who had been overtaking the lorry behind me pulled into the middle lane and also started pointing at my car I knew I was in trouble. I pulled onto the hard shoulder, took a deep breath to steal myself against whatever it was I was about to face, got out, and saw the puncture.
I have only ever felt anything but pity for the poor sods you see stranded on the hard shoulder with car problems. Now I found myself as one such poor sod myself I therefore felt justified in feeling great self pity at that moment. And yes – I KNOW I should know how to change a tyre but....
I didn’t know what to do. In fact I was in such a state that it wasn’t till later that I realised the reason I couldn’t get through to Reidski on my phone to tell him I was going to be late and to pray for me, was that it was on Bluetooth, but I wasn’t wearing my ear piece. At the time I just thought that was one more thing sent to try me ‘Now the bloody phone won’t work either!’ sort of thing. Who is one supposed to ring? The only number I know for the police is 999, and even I had to accept this incident couldn’t really be classed as an emergency.
I was right at the point where traffic joined the M1 at Junction 12. ‘Why?’ I thought to myself, ‘Could this not have happened just before the exit to junction 12?’ But as I thought that I also thought, ‘If I’m at the point where traffic comes onto the motorway at Junction 12, that means I am practically at Toddington Services.’ I looked up and there was, not a third of a mile away, the service station. Now whether or not it was the right thing to do or not I have no idea, but what I decided to do was to limp along the hard shoulder to the service station and see if I could ask someone to help me change the tyre (for which read do it for me).
I think this is the moment when I should mention that the time of this mishap was half past four in the afternoon. I mention this because at half past four in the afternoon one would not normally expect to encounter what I encountered next.
I pulled up round the back of the petrol station area next to a rather dilapidated looking coach, but not before I had run the gauntlet of a group of around 8 or 9 young men. All of them were dressed in either pirate costume or in sailor gear. All of them were drinking. One of them was urinating in the middle of the forecourt. I had been planning to ask if they could help me, but decided that wasn’t such a great idea.
A lorry driver came to my aid. A further nasty moment was experienced when the wrench he needed to get the wheel off was missing from where it was supposed to be, but thankfully we did eventually find that under my car’s back seat. But in the meantime more and more drunken sailors were appearing – men and women – and things were getting somewhat out of hand.
One pirate captain came over, three quarters empty bottle of what looked like nasty cheap sherry in his hand. ‘What’ he slurred ‘seems to be the problem?’ With this he sat down on the edge of my boot, which was open where we’d removed the spare tyre. And then he fell backwards into my boot, whereupon he appeared to pass out. I don’t think that the lorry driver who had been kind enough to help me could ever have imagined that his assistance would extend to physically evicting a drunken pirate from my boot, but that is what he ended up doing.
By the time the wheel was changed the scene around my car was beginning to resemble Sodom and Gomorrah. Two couples were all but shagging at the side of the coach (I imagine their coach driver may well have been refusing to take them any further), a stark bollock naked man was wandering round my car, whilst another two were modest enough to have only stripped to their boxers. Another was by now down to his fish net body suit, which in my opinion as a keen observer of fashion was not a good choice. Someone else was throwing up over some poor sods car, and another thought it was amusing to stand in front of a lorry attempting to get to the fuel and make out as if he was pushing it backwards. Where security was, remained an open and unanswered question.
I now know how people who live in places like Majorca and Ibiza must feel when they are exposed to the Brits Abroad..... Absolutely bloody disgusted.
The lorry driver was a star though.
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