Yesterday I mentioned my mother’s postwar ingenuity. Not just making all our clothes, but manufacturing her own toilet paper. Of necessity, her squares cut from knitting patterns were not very comfortable, but they were at least strong, and did the job once you had done yours. We are now inundated with numerous brands of this household necessity, all claiming to be soft and strong. Having been engaged in extensive research in recent months we were relieved to discover the only one that lives up to its claim. It is four ply. Not like other producers’ slender slivers of loosely connected paper each of which disintegrate the moment the slightest finger pressure is applied. Four strong sheets guaranteed to stand firm. Forget the rest. Floralys super soft is the business. And where can you buy it? Where else but Lidl? (I’ll take my commission now, Mr. Lidl).
Before our guests arrived for Sunday lunch, we paid a visit to Totton’s finest emporium, in order to acquire a few supplies. The convenience of shopping on the Sabbath was not available in that bygone era when Mum was making do. I have mentioned before how much you could buy with a penny during my childhood. But we couldn’t go out and spend one on this day.
Helen and Shelly, Bill and Ron, joined us for lunch which was taken at a leisurely pace. Jackie presented a most impressive roast beef meal followed by spicy pumpkin pie or lemon cheesecake, or both. Those who like red wine enjoyed Bill’s Carta Roja gran reserva 2005; the white wine drinkers preferred Palastri pino grigio 2012. With our coffee we were treated to Turkish delight Helen and Bill had brought back with them from their recent holiday.
Ron brought a memory stick containing his video of John and Stephanie’s wedding. After a few teething troubles I got it to work on the iMac and we all relived the day.
With this particular group there is always an exchange of stories. At one point we got onto the subject of bizarre motoring accidents. This took me, and therefore the others, back to late 1972. One weekend at that time I returned from visiting Matthew and Becky to where I was living in Gillespie Road, near Arsenal’s old football ground, to find my Ford Corsair concertinaed. Its front and back had each been pushed in a bit. Apparently there had been an attempted murder in which another car had been used to run down a pedestrian. Things got rather out of control and the murder weapon plunged into the car parked behind mine which was shoved into the one in front.
My listeners were probably hoping that that was the bizarre accident and the story would finish there. No such luck. There was more. David Hignett, one of the social workers in my Southwark Area Team, with Pat Benge at his side, offered to tow me in his very solid Volvo, to Raynes Park which housed my garage in those days. We set off after work, and drove at a rate of knots through London from north to south. The chosen route took us into Chelsea’s King’s Road. This was then the place to be noticed. I certainly was.
David drove at a good thirty miles an hour, and didn’t seem to slow down for bends. As we turned left into King’s Road, the towrope became entangled around my left front wheel. When we stopped at traffic lights I alighted from my car and waved to my friend who repeated the gesture. Pointing to the underside of the vehicle I crouched down and began to tackle the rope. The lights changed. Off David sped. I leapt to my feet and started running. Between two motors tied together. The one following had no driver.
Fans of Stephen Spielberg’s 1971 TV masterpiece ‘Duel’ will know that it is possible to be chased by an apparently driverless vehicle. There was no question about mine. It was driverless. The driver was running down the road in front of it.
Naturally, I yelled a bit at David. Pat screamed at him to stop. He did. My Corsair didn’t. I turned to see it bearing down on me. Bracing myself for the impact I caught my car in my hands by the front bumper and actually managed to stop it. Unfortunately the front of the Ford also caught my leading leg, ripped it a bit, and my trousers even more.
As I limped to the kerbside after we’d all come to a halt, I might, I thought have been justified in being disappointed that no-one in the crowd that had now gathered seemed inclined to offer sympathy or concern for my health. They were all looking for the film crew. After all, why else would a young man wearing a brown velvet suit come a cropper in such an unlikely manner?
For anyone who is actually concerned, I simply suffered a little bruising, with my bones intact.