I had just got home when the phone went.
It was Trot’s, who asked me over for supper. She had just moved
into the area with her (then) first husband.
Trot’s is a riot. Very funny, very entertaining and always larger
than life. I 've never met anyone else who has spent an entire afternoon
pretending to be a fire extinguisher as part of thier degree course.
She asked me to arrive at eight o’clock. That gave me time to
have a bath and do a few other essential manly things.
I can’t remember where it came from but I had some rather nice
grass at the time and rolled myself a joint before my bath.
In hindsight this is probably where everything started to go slightly
awry. However, feeling much more relaxed, I settled into a warm bath.
After a few minutes I glanced at my watch.
‘Shit. It’s ten to eight’.
For some strange reason I decided I must be on time and that if I was
even one second late Trot’s perfect supper would be ruined and
she’d never talk to me again.
It seemed so rational at the time.
I leapt out of the bath, dried and dressed. I grabbed my helmet, jacket
and some cash and zoomed out of the door. I couldn’t arrive without
a bottle of wine and I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I got on my
motorbike and hared down Sheen Lane. I overtook all the cars waiting
at the traffic lights and waited for the green light.
It seemed to take forever.
Eventually it changed and I accelerated to the wine shop and ran inside.
It was 7.46 pm. I went straight to the white burgundies and quickly
choose a Mersault. I paid for it and leapt back on my bike.
‘Oh shit ‘ I thought, I’m going to be late and she’ll
never talk to me again. 7.49 pm.
Then inspiration struck. I could take a short cut and avoid the traffic
lights again. Opposite the wine shop was a street that cut the corner.
If I took the second turning to the right, a gentle forty five degree
turn, it brought me back onto the south circular and I’d still
be able to make her house by 8.00 pm.
I had to wait ages for a car to turn into the same road I wanted to
‘Why were cars always so slow?’
‘Why couldn’t she accelerate a bit faster?’
Finally she turned right and I followed her down the street. Being an
older part of Sheen the streets were narrow and the cars parked on both
sides. This meant there wasn’t a lot of room for overtaking. About
fifty yards down the road it widened enough for me to pass her.
Free at last.
I accelerated a bit more as I approached the gentle curve. I leant into
the bend and looked for the road to straighten out.
It got tighter.
It was the wrong road.
It wasn’t the one I was expecting. It was a ninety degree bend
and I was going too fast to get round.
The first thing to do was put the brakes on. Very hard. I heard the
ABS chatter as it reduced my panic pressure.
It was then a case of deciding which vehicle to hit. Try a broadsides
and hope to stay on or just hit one up the backside.
It was definitely one of the times when things happen in slow motion.
I choose to rear end a rather nice white Vauxhall.
In case my mother is reading this I wasn’t going very fast when
I hit it. Probably no more than ten miles an hour because I’d
been braking so hard.
There was a certain crunching sound as my forks hit the car and stoved
in the centre of the car’s boot. The bike pitched a little left
and I fell off. I remember my gently hitting the pavement with my head.
As is entirely normal in these situations I leapt up to see who had
Luckily there was no one in sight, but, out of the corner of my eye,
I saw a twitching lace curtain .
‘Bugger’ I thought. I suppose I’ll have to do the
decent thing and leave my name and address.
I duly found pen and paper and left the requisite note.
If I’d been brighter it would have said: ‘I’m leaving
this on your windscreen because some one has seen me hit your car. I’m
terribly sorry but it was entirely an accident.’
I heaved my bike upright and rode at a somewhat reduced pace to Trot’s
I naturally regaled them with my tale. For some strange reason they
promptly decided I should walk home.
I thought no more about it. I never heard a thing from my honestly,
if reluctantly, left note. I even bought a new helmet in case I'd damaged
it hitting my head on the ground.
A few months later, I was, as usual, sitting in the bath on a Saturday
morning when the phone went.
I had got fed up with the phone going during my one hour soak so I had
installed one between the bath and the loo. I thoroughly recommend it
for a more productive life. Not only can you take calls but also make
them (although it does sound a bit echoy) during truly relaxing moments.
I answered in my usual stupid voice expecting it to be one of my sisters.
There was a slight delay from the other end.
‘Oops, it’s not some one I know’.
‘Hello, this is Stephanie’
She sounded rather nice.
‘Hi, I’m Jerome’
‘Do you live in Sheen?’
‘Yes, why do you ask?’
Perhaps I could get her phone number.
‘Well, I went to Thailand with my boyfriend on holiday for three
months and parked our car in a quiet street in Sheen before taking the
train to Heathrow.’
‘We thought ‘What could be better than a quiet street in
suburbia where nothing ever happens?’
‘We got back a few days ago to find the boot had a big ‘V’
shaped dent in it. But then we saw your note and our faith in mankind
‘We’ve had a quote for four hundred pounds to get it fixed.
It’s a lot because the force of the impact has distorted the floor
of the boot’.
It took me a while to remember the incident at all.
‘Oh shit', again.
After some negotiations I got them to take cash so they wouldn’t
make a claim.
I also decided never to smoke and ride again.