What do you do when your husband is having a car accident in your rear view mirror.... Yesterday I discovered that I pray and panic in a ratio of approximately 80% to 20%! Mark, I hasten to add, is absolutely fine. The car is written off but, as one of my very dear friends said as he hugged me yesterday, "Never mind Jan - it's only metal".
Basically we'd done the food shop yesterday morning then went to collect this car from Gloucester. It's a powerful old Japanese car that Mark only really wants for the engine and gearbox (to modify one of sports cars that we have already). Nevertheless, the car appeared really well looked after and has a full service history etc. To be honest I was upset with Mark that he planned to pull it to pieces when people seemed to have cared for it for so long. (I'm a bit of a sentimentalist when it comes to this sort of thing).
Anyway, either we picked up a slow puncture in the 16 miles that Mark followed me home OR the tyres on the rear of the car weren't quite as well-looked after as they should have been. When Mark went for a slow over-take (no more than 40 mph) on the A38 south of Worcester, the back end of the car stepped out, spun him round and took him straight through a hedge. He came to rest the right way up about 200 metres into a ploughed field. I watched the whole accident happen in my rear-view mirror (because I was leading the way in our other car).
Fortunately there were no trees on this stretch of road, no fence posts or wire in the hedge and the hedge itself was old and rotten. Mark is one of the luckiest men on the planet.
As you can imagine, I immediately slowed down to look for somewhere to turn back. The car behind me had seen the accident too and very kindly held back the rest of the traffic. As I turned in a gateway I saw Mark get out of the car in the distance but it seemed like an eternity as I drove back to the point of the accident (praying and praying and praying!) Mark appeared at the gap in the hedge pretty much at the same time as I parked my car and got out.
The next few hours really brought home to me how kind people are. It took about three hours to get the wrecked car out of the field and home. Complete strangers stopped to check that we were OK. People that we only know very superficially offered tea and a place to warm up. Two of our oldest friends abandoned their shopping trip and came to tow us out in their old Land Rover. I feel very lucky to have such lovely people in my life.
Mark (being the car-obsessed man I love) was determined to get to the root causes of the accident. He's discovered that pressure in the rear passenger-side tyre was approximately half what it should be. We're just grateful that the accident happened at low speed and on a quiet road. The 'what ifs' really don't bear thinking about...