This weekend I headed back to Solihull for a Class of 95 school reunion. The reunion was great. Re-connected with old friends, re-told forgotten stories, and rediscovered people I had, frankly, forgotten about. Although, the real adventure started when our car broke down on the way home today.
Our car’s not a bad one, and it’s only 5 years old. A toxic mix of over-pessimism for “rescue services”, and my over-optimism about needing one, meant I was on my own. Well, with a two-year-old, a four-year-old and a wife who apparently “told me so”. As we made our way down the M40, we experienced worsening juddering and eventual loss of what car experts might call “movement”, and what they might also judge to be too much smoke.
We managed to make it to Junction 6, and pulled over by a bus top on the B4009, where (I counted) eleven ironically routed busses bound for London stopped off. We called the RAC who were surprisingly willing to rescue us, although at a cost of £175 and some sort of commitment to membership. The chap who arrived couldn’t have been friendlier. He quickly concluded that our only option was a tow, but ushered us to a local pub while reminding me that I no longer needed to drive…
We must have spent three hours waiting but the kids were enjoying the novelty of not-knowing what was going to happen, the theatre of the malfunctioning machinery, and we genuinely enjoyed the best quality time together we’ve had in a long line of challenging weekends. The barman at the Mercure Thame Lambert Hotel went well out of his way to look after us, contorting the menu to appease my children, and ensuring our comfort.
The RAC tow-truck driver came quickly, and the kids enjoyed the miniaturisation of our mighty car as it was hoiked aboard. He was forced to deposit us (and the car) halfway at the Heston Service Station (not the best, though not without charm), because he had already bent the rules to get us, and was genuinely remorseful to leave a young family stranded.
Somehow, being caught in a catastrophe with a young family is no harder than treating them to a well-planned day out. In fact, I think it was better. Every weekend we put our laptops away and dredge for new ideas to entertain the kids. Mostly, it involves spending lots of money, under-met expectations, and under appreciative children. At least this time we had a real adventure.
They’re currently heading home for bedtime in a taxi whilst I await the final tow, but I’m making the most of it with my laptop, another beer, the hum of the M4, and a really nice sunset.
Anyway, sorry to bore you with my personal mishaps. It was either this or have a go with the service station gambling machines. (By the way, the two people sat at the table next to me appear to be on a date…)
If I could attempt to make this relevant, it would go like this: Bad stuff happens, but small unexpected wins make things good.
Big up the Class of 95.