Black ice

Most of my devoted readers (that’s two sisters, one Dad, two cousins) will no doubt be awaiting today’s missive with baited eyes as I have already sent them photos of this morning’s adventure. In fact, Sister Two (they’re numbered according to the order in which they pledged solemn lifetime allegiance to my blog), when she saw the photos, said “well, at least you’ll have something to write on your blog”. And I have to admit, I did have the same thought myself, despite having risked life, limb and limbic system in the space of seven seconds. I think it lasted seven seconds – that’s enough time to think ‘FUUUCCKKK, JEEEEEEEEZ, WHAT HAPPENS IF WE GO OVER THE EDGE? DID I TIGHTEN TOMMY’S SEAT-BELT PROPERLY? WILL WE BE CRUSHED TO SMITHEREENS? BLOODY HELL, RUNNING INTO THAT SIGNPOST DIDN’T STOP US! NOR DID THOSE BUSHES! HERE WE GO! GOODBYE WORLD!” Basically, it snowed yesterday, melted a bit, froze overnight, turning everything vaguely horizontal into a skating rink. I say vaguely horizontal, as the roads out here in the sticks are all but horizontal. They’re steep and bendy and this morning they were lethal. I left at nine a.m. having spent fifteen minutes de-icing the car, pouring hot water on the windscreen, chipping stalactites off the door frames and yanking the doors open. I was taking Tommy to his nanny’s house for the morning while I had a meeting with the mayor, the village council and the blokes who are going to be transforming the churned up mudpit which runs around our house into a delightfully pretty paved path – my boyfriend had given me the mission of seducing them all in one clean sweep so that they will a) make sure they leave an opening for a future doorway in the back of our kitchen, b) give us all the beautiful old stones and steps that they may come across while digging, c) rebuild one of our stone walls on their way, d) leave us their power tools when they go. It was a meeting not to be missed at the risk of them doing all the opposite of the list mentioned above, and I had just enough time to drop Tommy off and get back to the village so I admit I was probably in more of a hurry than I should have been on a freezing January morning. But I did notice that our stone staircase was inch thick in ice and I did indeed slip and slide my way down to the car with Tommy dangling from my hand and skeddaddling about on the slippy bits with every footstep. So I drove more slowly than I usually do, but clearly not slowly enough. About five hundred metres down the road from the village I felt that my car was not not entirely doing what I wanted it to do. It was leering out into the middle of the road rather than staying on the righthand side and then turning gently round the bend, a plan I was trying to put into action with the steering wheel. But the wheels had decided to go skippy free wheeling and had let go of all grip on reality and all grip on the road.  Of course I did the wrong thing – I slammed on the brakes. And while doing so I was thinking “This is entirely the wrong thing to do – I should drive INTO the skid, drive INTO the skid” which of course sounds so easy until you’re actually skidding at breakneck speed towards the edge of a mini-cliff and all of a sudden you think, “What the hell do they mean, drive INTO the skid? What on earth does that mean for god’s SAAAAAAAKE, AAAAAAARRRGGHHH!” The car just raced straight ahead, skidding and sliding as we went, and heading towards the edge of the road and thus the edge of the hill. A twenty metre drop awaited us. Not a hundred metre one, as is the case with the rest of that road through the hills, but a jolly good drop nonetheless and certainly enough to have the car drop and roll and crush and splinter, with Tommy and I and a good packed lunch of sausages and mash in it. I saw the signpost saying “La Seroul” speeding towards us, SMASH we took it out, then numerous bushes and saplings CRUSH, they were harshly pruned in a matter of milliseconds, and then, lo and behold, THE EDGE. THE END. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT £200. And we still weren’t slowing down. And my futile efforts at stopping the car by breaking were doing poop all,  which didn’t stop me from continuing to brake so hard I could feel snow in my left sock. And then the car hit the edge and suddenly we slowed, and the front wheels went over the edge and I had images of The Italian Job and of us teetering there precariously and me having to climb into the back so that there was more weight on the earth side of the car rather than the thin air side, grabbing Tommy and leaping out the back door letting the car smash to smithereens. I of course did it all backwards and hauled Tommy out of his car seat (“Mummy car broken?”) into the front before stumbling out into the snowy brambles, but there was no risk of the car falling as its belly was touching the ground. So there we were. I slid down to the farm and fell into a warm kitchen where Ginette immediately shoved a chocolate biscuit in my mouth and gave me some homeopathy granules for shock before hauling a Fisher Price garage and various toy tractors out of a backroom for Tommy to play with. One of her remedies must have worked as I felt fine within seconds and went back to the car to take some photos for posterity and to frighten my boyfriend with. A 2CV chugged up – it was one of the blokes from the village council offering to drive Tommy and I back home, so off we went and a few minutes later I found myself in a council meeting talking about walls and drainage and minimum wheelchair widths, drinking dodgy coffee with Tommy on my lap watching Monsters vs Aliens on my phone to keep him quiet. So that’s my story for today. I have thoroughly learnt my lesson and if it’s icy tomorrow I shall be rolling at snail speed (I shall hire a snail to ooze along in front of me) with fifty Scotchbrite sponges, the scratchy side out, glued to each wheel. Oh, and the car is fine by the way. Just a fog light broken. And the sausages and mash were also fine, although they’re not now.

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