Saturday, 3 September 2011
Out Of Gas
I was sweating and my stomach was in my mouth; I hadn't felt like this in years.
We'd had such a lovely day. A delightful lunch in a lovely pub; a couple of hours at an antiques market, and a trip round a stately pile. Pure heaven for a couple of old codgers.
I was conscious of my foot on the accelerator, 50 mph in 5th gear. My hands were holding the steering wheel tightly but every so often there would an involuntary jerk and we'd weave across the lanes.
The windows were closed tight and the air con was silent despite the heat; but our fate was sealed.
The steady light in front of me now started to flash; it had never done that before! This was so serious; I eased off the accelerator, we slowed to 40 mph - it was as if time had been stretched out like a rubber band. Stretched and stretched, narrowing and thinning, just before it snapped. "This is what it must be like with your head through the noose, as you wait on the gallows for the trap door to open." I said under my breath.
The view ahead offered no consolation, slip roads, signs to inviting places but nothing that signaled our salvation. I looked at my wife. "I'm so sorry", I mouthed piteously.
As the needle banged against "Empty", my wife shouted "Stansted, there must be something there." For an instant our spirits lifted only to be dashed when we realised we had another 3 miles to go. And then "Services" and a fuel symbol!
I was never so relieved as I steered the car to a gentle halt next to a fuel pump. "Diesel, remember put in diesel, not petrol like the last time!" Clever wife!
So we didn't come to an ignominious stop on the hard shoulder as the car gasped her last. I didn't have the embarrassment of calling out the AA because I'd run out of fuel. 'Modern cars make driving so much less of an adventure these days, sir. So far they haven't figured out to make them fool proof."
"Home, sweet,home", Bilbo Baggins was right - it's a risky business going outside your own front door.