We chatted about this and that and then stopped for coffee before we hit the A 27. This was the road that would take us along the coast to Chichester. He put on Radio Three and so I moved my seat back slightly and closed my eyes hoping to secure just a few minutes for a little snooze. I could not remember every feeling so relaxed.
Suddenly the car skidded to a halt. ”Just get out of the car, now” my husband said loudly through clenched teeth. I opened my eyes and the first thing I saw was a large retirement home sign. It said “Hillwood Retirement Home” and I could see gaily decorated static caravans peeping in and out of a pleasant wooded area.
Just as I began to think “Surely not,Is he really going to…?” He spoke again.
“Get out the car now darling, it is dangerously overheated and we need to be outside the car rather than in it”
I grabbed my bag and did an approximation of a wonky, slow motion leap out on to the pavement. Fortunately we had stopped at a bus stop but the cars, buses and trucks were still whizzing past at a very fast speed rocking our parked car from side to side. I looked across at my husband who was busy ringing the breakdown service and had on a very serious face.
“I am going to miss my meeting” he offered testily and then “the breakdown people will be an hour.”
Extract from The Communication Generation by Carole McCall to be published in June 2015
I left him talking business on his mobile phone and signalled that I was going to have a little wander around the wooded park. I decided I could always say I was a potential customer if anyone questioned me about where I was headed.
Everyone I met looked cheerful and relaxed and said “Good Morning” in the manner of the residents of the small Lakeland village I used to live in when my children were babies.
After thirty minutes of looking this way and that I made my way back to the main road and I was not even sure Grant had noticed I had gone, so engrossed was he in his phone call.
After an hour or so a very capable engineer arrived and diagnosed a faulty screw on the water pump. He parked his van behind our car and declared the vehicle safe enough for me to sit in .
I put on Radio Two and started humming along to music as I watched two men spend two hours peering under the bonnet of an ancient blue Jaguar. Grant finally got back into the car,” Wonderful chap, he is an ex British Leyland engineer, thinks he has fixed it.”
He explained that the chap would follow us for the next few miles before he drove off “Just to make sure the problem is solved” he announced.
Less than five minutes later the dashboard sign was bright red and there was faint effluvia of singed wiring to signal that the engine was red hot again. Fortunately we were close to a service station car park so we pulled in quickly and stopped.
“It’s the water pump then, you will need a low loader to take you home” were the engineer’s last words as he drove off. The promised thirty minutes wait went by and then another hour disappeared. An offer to play I spy was firmly refused.
A stroll for a bag of crisps from the garage had been my only exercise in many hours and my legs had started to become achy and numb.
After some discussion we decided to walk up and down an adjacent road from where we could still see the car and the arrival of the breakdown truck………