A Knight’s Tale (60: I Come A Cropper)

Towards the end of 1972, I spent a short period alone in another of Tony’s properties, this one in Gillespie Road, near Arsenal’s then football ground.  One weekend at that time I returned from visiting Matthew and Becky 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 had 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 readers are probably hoping that 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 still housed my garage.  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.  In the ’70s, this was 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 nearside 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.

Published by derrickjknight

I am a septuagenarian enjoying rambling physically and photographing what I see, and rambling in my head as memories are triggered. I also ramble through a lifetime’s photographs View more posts


  1. Fun story with a fortunately not as bad as it might have been ending. You and cars do not seem to be a match made in heaven. I Hope Jackie has had better luck since she is now the designated driver.

  2. Quite the adventure. I am glad you came through ok. Reminds me of the time my (first) husband had me help him tow a vehicle through a very busy section of highway. H e hooked on a tow rope, got into the lead vehicle and cautiously pulled into traffic. The roap came disengaged

  3. I loathe being towed – and have had to be more times than I like to remember. Your narration thus kindles a host of memories. Nonetheless, I have to hand it to you Derrick for relating some hair-raising incidents with what I imagine is a deadpan face – or is there a twinkle in your eye? While you are absolutely correct, I think this is the first time I have read about a car described as a murder weapon.

    1. So right, Mrs W. Yes – scary at the time and something to dine out on ever since. 🙂 It all happened so quickly I didn’t have to time to do other than react.

      1. Yes. When bestfriend and Wrangler told the story to best friend’s future wife she got her first glimpse at how things go when they are together and why supervision is required.

  4. Oh my gosh! This really should be in a film, you know! What a story, Derrick! I’m so glad no one involved was too badly hurt.

  5. I would have liked to have seen that, but your description gave me a good idea of how things went, Derrick. I’m glad you weren’t terribly hurt. That’s youth, right? Great story!

  6. Forgive me, but I consider your colleague David Hignett very inattentive and reckless. You could’ve been caught under the wheel when he took off at the traffic light. Thankfully, it all worked out well in the end and you’ve lived to tell the tale 🙂

  7. Oh, my gosh! 😮 and HA! 😀 This brought the snort-laughs…but only because you were not hurt seriously! I’m so glad for that! It could be a scene in one of my fave comedy movies: What’ Up Doc? with Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand. 😛
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

  8. I hope you don’t mind that I saw the comical side of your car mishap, Derrick. I’m glad you weren’t overly damaged by the experience, though it must have been alarming at the time.

  9. I held my breath for a few seconds as reading this was like watching a movie scene. Our friend John is like your towing friend David. He has a good heart but tends to be somewhat reckless – even at the age of 70. We secretly refer to him as a bull in a china shop. I’m very glad you were not badly hurt.

  10. That was a horrific story even if hilarious. I can fully understand the bewilderment of the crowd upon not finding a film crew on the scene. All I can say is, man, were you lucky!

    1. Thanks very much, Alys. It is amazing that when all put together that becomes apparent, yet, while living our lives stage by stage we don’t necessarily take in the whole picture.

  11. I am glad you lived to tell the tale. I had to look up ‘come a cropper’, not something I have ever heard here. I might try to get that started. Then everyone in the midwest U.S. will be saying it!
    Duel was riveting, and tense. Amazing what was accomplished with so little dialogue

  12. Blooming heck, Derrick, you nearly got squashed. You made me feel nostalgic for the days of men wearing green suits though. Our drama teacher had both green and purple suits and at 6ft 5, you were sure to spot him.

  13. That really did sound like it should have been part of a film sequence… Kings Road, velvet suit, runaway car, traffic lights, impact….
    I’m glad there were no lasting injuries.
    x ? x

  14. At first I thought you would be run over while underneath the car disentangling the tow rope. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. Then to my surprise, you found yourself trapped between the two and forced to run for your life. Good gracious what a story.

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