A delivery run turned to horror for an island white van man when he tried to negotiate a tight downward bend at a remote junction. As he edged round slowly, his van was unable to stay on the tarmac to negotiate it in a oner. He then had to decide whether to reverse back onto the road he came off into possible traffic.
Not wishing to risk being rear-ended by the Tesco delivery van he had seen minutes earlier, he decided against. However, the grass was damp, and being on a slope, his van began to slide forward and sideways. Before he could say ‘oh flip’, it slid to the shoogly fence. He stamped on the brake and realised he was inches from a sheer drop down to a house below. Gulp.
When he tried to reverse, the van just skidded forward even more. The handbrake wasn’t holding because a back wheel was clear off the road. Petrified, the trembling driver kept the pressure on the foot pedal and waited to be rescued. He could feel stones at the edge crumbling under the wheels.
No one came. The engine was running hot but turning it off could have reduced brake pressure. Honking the horn did not rouse Lemreway village out of its midday slumber either. By then persistently perspiring, his stressed right foot on the pedal became itchy, then numb and eventually felt as if it was roasting in a furnace. After 10 long, anxious minutes he’d had enough and phoned 999.
Aargh, no mobile signal. Being from the west of the island, he remained cool. He probably wouldn’t die if the worst happened, he decided. It wasn’t a long drop. However, an Astravan plummeting onto the concrete walkway below would undoubtedly injure him and write off Vauxhall’s finest. Taking chances was best avoided, if possible. No sudden moves. Someone will come. Where was everybody?
With his tootsies by then smoking, he feared the worst. Should he leap clear just before the van went over? Had he still got the speed and agility that would take? Was that the strains of The Self Preservation Society he was hearing? Daydreaming he was on a bus precariously balanced at a sheer drop – well, it’s not that long since The Italian Job was on the box – his thoughts turned to action heroes and what they would do. That was when he came up with an idea Michael Caine would have been proud of.
Would he remember his old RAF training manual? He began tapping out on the horn beep-beep-beep bip-bip-bip beep-beep-beep. Someone would hear his SOS. And it worked. An old sea salt was stirred and alerted the whole village to the hell up on the hairpin. Anonymous Walking Man and Anonymous White Pick-up Man roared to the rescue and he was wheeched backwards onto Mr John Loudon McAdam’s tar. He was so grateful to those local heroes. He couldn’t thank them enough.
And how do I know all this? I shall explain in the style of Wink Martindale as he narrated Deck of Cards. Friends, this is a true story. I know; I was that driver.
Yes, it was myself. Since then, reaction has been mixed. Some have scoffed at my driving skills while others are keenly aware just how hazardous the Lemreway hairpin is for the unwary. It emerged many have come to grief. Two drivers came off on one day a while back. They may have been sober too as they had both been at the communion service. A councillor is taking notes.
However, the welcome at home was warm. Daddy’s home. Oh well, you’re alive anyway, she muttered. Gee, thanks. Was I scared? Course not. Nah, I knew what I was doing. Recounting all about my brilliant idea about honking out the Morse Code to summon help left our teenager non-plussed. How sure was I? Very. What do you know? She sauntered off to “research something”. Kids are such know-it-alls. Brats.
Then she was back. “Dad, it’s not beep-beep-beep bip-bip-bip beep-beep-beep. It’s bip-bip-bip beep-beep-beep bip-bip-bip. So there.” No, no, no, no … oh yes. The ancient mariner who heard my signals must have been very confused. I had been honking my horn to transmit OSO, OSO, OSO.
Someone has just explained to me that OSO is internet-speak for, wait for it, Other Significant Other. What? How can I delicately explain what that means? Partners who cheat have an OSO. And I woke up everyone in Lemreway the other day to let them all know I wanted one of them OSOs badly. Oops.
Mrs X now wonders whether it was a deliberate ruse by me to flush out all of Lemreway’s internet-savvy flighty ladies with the nifty use of my horn. So maybe the Anonymous Boys didn’t rush to rescue me but to get me out of Lemreway pronto before I had snapped up all the available chicks with the signals I was emitting. Ach, I’ve still got it.