Kathy in the Alcazar Palace, Seville

136

IT’S A FUNNY OLD WORLD - AGAIN
Since I last had the good sense to put fingers to keyboard, I’ve limped and hobbled my way through what has truly been one of the oddest weeks of my entire life. I’ve been into the deepest, most hidden parts of the Peak District in search of a needlessly neglected Victorian hero; I’ve taken tea at one of our most important World Heritage Sites; I’ve gaped at the Heights of Abraham; I’ve immersed myself in the breathtaking creations of yet another neglected hero - this time, from the Edwardian era; I’ve heard the One O’Clock Gun and watched a new tramway being built in the Athens of the North; and I’ve almost been killed by a bouncing ice-cream refrigerator.

Yes, one of the oddest weeks of my life. So far.

The last time we spoke, I was about to set off for Chesterfield in Derbyshire to visit my old friend Kathy. Let me tell you a little about Kathy.

We met in - we think - 1976 or 1977 when we both worked in Hackney Employment Office (as they were rather archly called in those days). We got along really well and have remained good friends ever since. I went on my first narrowboat holiday with Kathy in 1979; it was on the Llangollen Canal and we both became addicted ‘canalcoholics’ instantly. We went on a couple of log-cabin holidays, too - courtesy of the Forestry Commission, who still operate these delightful and remote estates of holiday cabins deep in some of the UK’s most beautiful woodlands. You should try them.

Our lives drifted apart geographically for many years after that, but we kept in touch and see each other regularly, though infrequently. One of our last spells together was our wonderful week in Seville last autumn. The picture above was taken in the Alcazar, which she loved so much, she visited it twice.

Kathy, who’s a little younger than me, is a truly remarkable woman. She has overcome the kinds of trauma that would floor anyone with less clarity of vision, less grim determination and less life-affirming common sense than Kathy’s got. I take her shamelessly for granted.

At least, I did until Monday 30 March 2009. Because of Monday 30 March, I seriously believe that I will never take anyone for granted again. Ever.

I had driven down the M1 and was waiting at the exit roundabout at Junction 29 for a gap in the traffic when...a refrigerator was suddenly bouncing along the road towards me. It was one of those ice-cream chest-fridges with glass tops you find in shops and had fallen off the back of a passing truck - a small drop-side pick-up truck which had taken the roundabout curve a little too fast. The fridge bounced powerfully for its weight and it was all I could do to watch it coming at me very fast indeed.

I thank Providence that this was the only time in my life so far that I have genuinely thought I was going to die. And what many people have said in describing situations like this is absolutely true. The mind-numbing split seconds slow down dramatically, perhaps to give your mind time to say Goodbye to your body. I know perfectly well that this sounds manifestly foolish and utterly unlike the sensible and anchored person you know me to be (don't argue or smirk) but...at least a dozen thoughts had plenty of time to rush through my head as I sat there mesmerised by the most unlikely instrument of death I could possibly imagine.

Ex-BBC local radio presenter killed by bouncing ice-cream fridge.

But - as you can see - he wasn’t. The fridge hit my car head-on, as I had anticipated, but the bounce off the bonnet deflected its trajectory to my left, where it hit the roadway and came to rest almost under the wheels of a pantechnicon in the inside lane of the sliproad. What a lovely word: pantechnicon.

Because of my apparent state of shock - to be truthful, I can’t remember too much about the first 5 minutes or so - the cops called an ambulance. They calmed me down and talked to me and took my blood pressure and stuff, just like on Casualty. After about half an hour I was back to being the usual grumpy, miserable, self-centred old Ian Robinson - in a now bashed-up and barely drivable Kia Shuma.

Kathy, who lives only 5 or 6 miles from the M1, was priceless. When I finally arrived at her flat, I got hugs and kisses and lots of chat and talk and hot sweet tea.

When you first say Hello to someone, you really don’t know what’s going to happen 32 years or so down the line, do you?

I’m not saying that my near-miss accident was anywhere near as threatening or as dangerous as the scrapes many, many other people have found themselves in. In fact, it almost certainly counts only as a minor collision with no injuries. As far as I’m concerned, though, it pointed me toward The Light in a way I’d rather not experience again for some considerable time - unless Providence judges that I need to be taught yet another lesson the hard way.

I’d be very interested indeed to hear of any experiences of this kind you might wish to share with us....

CONTACT ME
Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com

Unless requested not to do so, I'll be telling you even more about how weird my week was next time...

AND DON'T FORGET...
...that as many truckshunters as possible should gather for the next AGM on Wednesday 22 April at 1100 onwards at Birkheads Nursery and Secret Garden, near Sunniside / Tanfield Railway / Beamish.

46 comments:

Sid said...

Glad you are still here to tell the tale Ian. Your guardian angel worked hard that day.
You never know what's coming around the corner...literally in your case.

Hildie said...

Ian, are you alright, pet? You will never be as lucky again!
If only we still had The Nightshift Newsreel!

Hildie said...

CHERRIES IS WHAT LIFE IS NOT A BOWL OF ..... I didn't notice that till this morning!!
Never a truer word was spoken, Ian!
I had to come back and re-read your posting because , when I woke up this morning, I just wasn't sure if it had all been a bad dream.
But there it was, in black and white. You certainly have the weirdest things happen to you!
Mind how you go!

Maureen said...

Hi Ian,
How devastating that was and thank God that you are ok, as Sid says, your Guardian angel was on overtime on Monday. I hope that you are getting over the shock now. I've been in a car accident before and I know how you keep seeing 'the video' over and over again. You be careful!

Sid said...

Many years ago My car was hit by a SHIP.
I was waiting for a fare coming off the MS England, which was berthed at the Tyne Commissioners quay.
A passing vessel created a wake that moved the England on its moorings.
The gangway hit my taxi amidships. (sorry I couldn't resist that one)
Luckily the damage was slight. It would have taken some explaining to my insurance company, as will yours Ian...

Sid said...

Has anyone heard from Vivienne lately. She last posted on the 1st of April...and that's not like her.

Loz said...

Flippin' eck! (not quite my original reaction on receiving a text from Hildi about this) Ian... thank heavens the heavens decided they didn't want you yet.... that sounds terrifying.

It really does make you realise to make the most of what you have.

Thankfully this does mean we can still have a greasy spoon appointment soon??

My blood runs cold thinking of bouncing fridges ....

Glad you're a cat Ian.... you must have 8 lives left after that.

Lawrence

Vivienne said...

Hi Everyone,

I'm still here Sid, but have been busy lately. I'll catch up over the weekend.

I've just read your posting Ian and was horrified to read about your nightmare experience. Thank goodness you are ok, although I bet you are still reliving the moments before the fridge hit you?

I once had a near death/ serious injury experience, which I'll write about when I have more time. Thankfully my guardian angel was working overtime that day, and no-one was injured. However the strangest experience I have had was my car being hit by a stall from South Shields market! A guy was pushing it along the road towards me, and wasn't looking where he was going. The damage was minimal. I still have the evidence on my car door where a cow fell against it, but that's another story!

I'm so glad you survived your accident Ian, and that your good friend Kathy was at hand to support you afterwards.

Take care everyone.

Hildie said...

I reckon Edinburgh would be a decent guess for part deux of your weird week, Ian.
Have I won an ice-scraper?!

Sid said...

Ice Scrapers.....had to check the weeks weather there Hildie. Its going to be a decent week by April standards, showers foretold for Wednesday morning. On the day of the AGM its going to be fine, with a temp of 16C.

Maureen said...

Happy Easter everyone. It's one of the only genuine holidays left. The shops are closed ... enjoy!

Maureen said...

Don't know if it's a bit late to tell you but Christine (Birkheads) will be chatting to Marianne Forster on Garden Mania after 1.30 today about their Red Cross efforts. I think it will be available on listen again if anyone is interested.

Hildie said...

Maureen, I heard your
Christine on Radio Newcastle.
They thought they'd lost her .... until they turned the faders up! She is looking forward to the imminent opening Birkheads as much as we Truckshunters are looking forward to going there!
Sid, you are able to look a long way ahead on the Truckshunters weather calendar!
16C ...... almost tropical.
Are there tables outside?

Ellie said...

Hello, everyone and Ian
Read the blog and my response was 'Whew!' 'Good Heavens!' and expletives that are similar in meaning. Glad you are OK, Ian - it sounds to have been a dreadful experience!
I'm back from Wales and have made a start on Spring Cleaning - an occupation that doesn't thrill me one jot!
Wales doesn't do much for me either but I won't go into that.

Vivienne said...

Happy Easter Everyone!

Glad you're back with us again from Wales, Ellie, but sorry it didn't live up to your hopes. I think we've all been rather busy lately, as there have been few postings on Truckshunters and virtually none on murphyanddorastravels.blogspot.com

I was working at Gibside yesterday, and we were rushed off our feet! We took a record amount of takings, sold out of ice-creams and ice- lollies and mineral water, and had to keep refilling the coffee machine and water boiler. This is a bit of a chore as there's no running water in the book/ coffee shop. I was shattered by the time I returned home at 6.30pm, and have only just recovered my strength to do my Tuesday duty tomorrow. So, sorry my postings have been few and far between.

I did take your advice and listened to 'Listen Again' Maureen, and managed to find Christine's interview with Marianne quite quickly, without listening to the full programme. I usually catch the gardening programme on Sundays, but not this week. I was thinking that your sister and brother-in-law missed out on lots of visitors yesterday, judging by the numbers we had at Gibside. I took a look at their website too, which I again found easily by Googling Birkheads Secret Gardens. It's worth taking a look, for those of you who have neither visited the gardens nor the website.

Are you able to attend the next AGM, Maureen and Ellie? What about Margaret and Audrey? We haven't heard from you for a while too.

I haven't forgotten my promise to tell you about my near death experience, but I don't have time just now. Actually, there was another incident when a wheel appeared from nowhere, and bounced along the dual carriageway towards my car. I was more concerned about my sister and father who were in the car behind my mother and me, as I feared the wheel would bounce on the top of my car then hit my sister's windscreen. Thankfully it only bounced across my bonnet and hit my near-side front wing, before bouncing on into the bushes. There didn't seem to be any other traffic nearby at the time, so I've no idea from where the wheel came.

Has anyone else had a near-death experience? We've already heard about Hildie's as well as Ian's.
I guess Inga's ice-storm was very scarey too. Hope you're ok Inga. I'll write when I get the chance.

Vivienne said...

p.s. I bet it's been superb in the Scottish Borders this weekend, Sid. How's your new caravan?

Maureen said...

Vivienne I think that you are right, we are all busier during the holidays than normal. I'm pleased that some of you managed to catch Christine on Gardenmania. I heard it and when she said that she wished that they were opening this weekend she meant for the Red Cross. They have actually been open for the last couple of weeks. I thought myself that it could have been misunderstood. Yes, there's a nice terrace to sit out and have tea Hildie, weather permitting, and yes, I'm hoping to be there if I can swap my day off!

Vivienne said...

Hi Maureen,

I thought you'd said Birkheads was opening earlier than this, and I couldn't work out from the website whether it was open. So thanks for clearing up the matter.

It will be super if both you and Sid are able to come to the AGM. I hope you can make it. Good luck!

Sid said...

This tale is as close to a near death experience as I want to get.
I was part of a crew of an armoured vehicle on exercise, on Salisbury Plain. We were moving to a location in which to spend part of the night
We encountered thick fog/mist as we drew near to the RV.
I was the chap with the maps...and his head stuck out of the turret...and I couldn't tell where we were. No roads, just grass and mist all around. I called for the driver to stop, telling him I'd have to walk in front of the vehicle, and to go easy with his accelerator foot.
Within a few yards the ground in front of me just disappeared, and there was just nothing but mist.
We could have easily driven over the edge had we not followed procedure.
Somehow death by flying fridge sounds much better than drove over a cliff in thick mist...

Hildie said...

That was scary, Sid. Definitely goes down as a close encounter ... sounded like you were almost "into the abyss".
Vivienne, I haven't heard anything from J. Arthur Smallpiece ... I wonder if Ian has heard from him. Wonder if Lawrence can make it next Wednesday. I'm still always wondering!
Mind,it sounds like they are keeping you busy at Gibside!

Maureen said...

Good job you are here to tell the tale Sid. Keep your head down Lad!
I'm wondering how many will make it to Birkheads on Wednesday, I've warned Christine to put the kettle on. I hope that we get better weather too. Like you Hildie, I'm hoping to get out on the terrace with my cream cake!

Hildie said...

I've been doing a bit more wondering today. I had a doctor's appointment at the big new surgery in Stanley - they are in the process of closing down the surgery we have in Dipton. (In my opinion big's not always best, in fact I'd say it's overrated but I shouldn't go off at a tangent!)
Sticking to the story - there I was in the surgery waiting room
(for ages) aimlessly looking about me. There were two doors leading out of this main waiting room. Near the door off to the right was a sign saying
ROOMS 1 - 14 THIS WAY.
Near the door off to the left was a sign saying
ROOMS 16 -22 THIS WAY.
So, now you know what I was wondering!
I EVEN asked the doctor .... when I eventually got to see him!
AND - do you know what?
He didn't know the answer.
Didn't have a clue where Room 15 was.
I always think you have to be a truckshunter to notice these things, though it wasn't much use saying as much to the doctor.
However, he did say he would make efforts to find out where it is!

Sid said...

Hildie, I bet you were sitting in it, whilst you viewed the two direction signs...

Maureen said...

Ha! That's clever Sid, I wouldn't have thought of that ...

Hildie said...

Good truckshunter thinking , Sid, but we covered that option - he said the waiting room wouldn't count... 'the powers that be' had decided on a numerical system for the treatment rooms ... he had gone in one morning to discover his name had been taken off the door and had been replaced with a number 8 - so Room 15 is around somewhere - his best guess was that it might be the broom cupboard... but he said, as doctors do, that he would look into it.

Sid said...

Now see what you've started Hildie, an innocent comment passed, and now we are all looking for the answer.
What about a posh version of 'trap 9'. Yes, room 15 could be the loo.

Maureen said...

You have really started something Hildie. Maybe it's where all of the lost records go?

Hildie said...

I tell you what - it's cold out, isn't it?

Guess where I went today?
I went to Consett ....
to the Dentist's Surgery ......

Maureen said...

Hildie, you sure know how to enjoy life don't you?

Sid said...

I heard the screams in my allotment....

Sid said...

You stood on his foot...

Vivienne said...

Hi Folks,

Hildie, you never fail to make me laugh! Room 15 where are you? I bet some highly paid idiot just made a mistake with the room numbers!

Maureen said...

Hi Vivienne,
We haven't heard a lot from you lately. I presume that you are being kept busy at Gibside. I hope that you have Wednesday off?

Maureen said...

I'm wondering who else is going. (As Hildie says, it's a truckshunter thing, wondering) I keep thinking about all of those people who used to write to you Ian. Do you still hear from them? Do you think that they read the blog? Do you think some of them might turn up? As Hildie says, 'a truckshunter thing, wondering ...
PS I'll bet that Ryan who moved to Alton in Hampshire still reads the blog. I occasionally hear texts from him on Radio Newcastle, so he's still around. Can you remember his lovely snow angel on one of the first postings?

Vivienne said...

Hi Maureen,

Sadly I can't recall Ryan. I only joined the blog when I sent in the first chapter of the Famous Five story.

I haven't heard from Inga for some time. I think it's my turn to write. I seem to be way behind with my emails and letter writing, so I'm sorry I haven't kept in touch lately.

Yes, I'm intending coming to the AGM on Wednesday. I've actually got Tuesday off this week, as they are laying a new surface on the track up to the Stable block at Gibside. It will take about three weeks to complete, so I don't know if I'm needed the following two weeks. I've been asked to cover on Sunday 26th April, as they are opening the Stables at the weekends only until the work is completed.

We've had a family crisis this week, as Holly, my sister's dog has been seriously ill, and had to be put to sleep on Bank Holiday Monday. My sister and brother-in-law are devastated. They were with her at the end. You may recall that I posted Holly's photo on M&D after Christmas. The vet thinks she had a brain tumor, but Holly was too ill to live until the following day, when she was due to have a ct scan. Sorry to pass on this sad news.

Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

Sorry too many spelling mistakes in that posting, thought I'd try again!
Sorry to hear about Holly, Vivienne. You can become so attached to pets can't you? It takes a long time to get over a lost pet, my thoughts are with them.
I'm really looking forward to meeting everyone at Birkheads on Wednesday now. Let's hope that the weather's good, we can have a stroll around the gardens to walk off those lovely gateaux and pies. (Although I think we'll have a job keeping Sid out of the polytunnels!) There's usually apple pie Sid. Now here's a funny thing, Mick reckons that, in general, women choose cakes and men choose pies, what do you reckon?

Sid said...

I think Mick could be right. The apple pie sounds right up my street.
Those polytunnels are going to be warm, mine certainly is.
Its a busy time at the allotment, but the extra exercise has helped me lose 3 pounds in weight this week alone. Can hardly wait for Wednesday.

Vivienne said...

Hi Everyone,

Well I promised to tell you my near death experience, so here goes, although your's takes some beating, Sid. Incidently, my sister nearly walked off a mountain ridge when she was caught in a mist when hill-walking, and her compass wouldn't work. She was walking completely in the wrong direction and just realised in the nick of time.

Many years ago I was returning from Scotland via the A68. I think I'd been visiting my sister - not on the mountain I may add! I was merrily speeding down the quiet road, enjoying the drive, as I approached the Catcleugh Reservoir. For those of you who know the road you may recall there is layby adjacent to the A68, by the reservoir.

In those days there was a toilet block situated by the layby, and there were usually cars parked in the layby alongside the road everytime I drove by. (A few years ago the toilets were vandalised, and I don't think they're there anymore. Sorry! I'm digressing!)

As I rounded a bend in the road the layby came into my view on my righthand-side. I noticed a car begin to pull out of the layby, from the opposite direction. Momentarily I was unconcerned as the car would pass me by heading north, whereas I was driving in a southernly direction.

I was rather taken aback when the car suddenly swung across the road. I guess I would have eased off the accelerator, but can't recall my immediate reaction. You see I reasoned with myself that the driver should have been able to make a 'U' turn, and as there wasn't another vehicle on the road, I would be able to overtake the rather 'inconsiderate' driver.

To my absolute shock and horror the driver pulled across the road in front of my approaching car, making the first manoeuvre in a three point turn! The driver then froze to the spot. (It was then that I realised s/he must have been concentrating on the road behind at the point s/he started the manoeuvre; having already looked in my direction and thought the road was clear.)

I slammed my foot hard down on the brake, but knew that there was no way I could stop in time or get passed the car. The car occupied all of my side of the road and halfway across the oncoming lane.

There were two other cars parked in the layby, blocking my potential escape route. The grass verge to my left was also impassable. I was resigned to my fate, and to the fate of the couple (I think) in the other vehicle.

All I could do was attempt to slow my car down as much as possible before impact! In so doing, my car went into a skid, screeching on her way!

Isn't it strange how so many thoughts rush through your mind in 2 or 3 seconds?

My car was no longer in my control. If it had been I would have kept it on a straight course, aiming at the rear of the other car, in the hope of minimising injury to the other folk and myself. There I was trying to stamp the brake through the floor in desperation. As my car skidded it veered to the right. I was about to slam the other car side on, when what I can only describe as a miracle occurred!

In a flash I saw a way around the back of the other car, and I was pointing towards it! There was a gap behind the nearest parked car in the layby and the offending car. Up to that point I'd been praying for the car to reverse back into the layby. Now I prayed that the driver wouldn't move. In one daring movement I took my foot off the brake, to regain control of my car, and steered/ swung my car around the rear of the obstacle - partially entering the layby in the restricted space in front of the two parked cars.

If my car had not veered to that exact angle as it skidded, or if the other car had moved at all, I may not have been here to tell my tale. I was so relieved we all escaped itact, I just kept on driving and thanking my Guardian Angel, or whoever, for saving my life. I have to admit to being rather proud of my own driving skills that day, and for also keeping calm!

Vivienne said...

Hi again,

Thanks for your kind words about Holly, Maureen. My sister and brother-in-law have had an awful week. They couldn't cope with seeing Holly's belongings around the house, so took all of them to the tip the following day. On Wednesday they spent the day repainting all the doors which Holly had scratched.

Unfortunately they were already suffering with 'empty nest' syndrome, as three of their four sons now have their own homes. Their youngest is still living with them, and his girl-friend has just moved in, but they are planning to buy their own home later this year, when Michael is qualified, and on a higher wage. Also, my sister & brother-in-law don't get to see their granddaughter very often. Girls tend to want to visit their own mam & dad, before in-laws!

They spent the rest of the week in the Lake District and returned to work today. I'll contact them tomorrow to see how they are coping. It's difficult to know how much they welcome my texts - asking how they are, but I'll ring tomorrow.

I'm really looking forward to Wednesday too. I hope Ian's ok, as he hasn't posted for a while.

I'm definitely a gateau person rather than an apple pie, although I do like the latter with custard. I'm very found of cheese scones too. Thinking about it lemon meringue pie is my favourite!

Sid said...

I am soo glad the police weren't called for the incident Vivienne. The expression 'merrily speeding' on your statement wouldn't have looked very good. Thankfully I know what you mean.lol.

Sid said...

I had a great time at the Secret Gardens today. It was lovely to meet the friends I have been posting with on here. Must do it again.

Maureen said...

Me too, and weren't we lucky with the weather? It was great to meet you all at last. Here's to the next one!

Vivienne said...

Hi Folks,

It really was a super day, but what's happened to our other friends? Loz, Ellie, Margaret and Audrey where were you? J. Arthur Smallpiece, I know you read Ian's blog, we hoped you would come along too! Kev I was thinking of you, but you had told us you wouldn't be able to make it.

Hildie said...

It was a lovely, lovely day ... I came home feeling very happy to have seen you all. Thank you, Vivienne, for the lift home ... I hope you didn't get caught up in too much traffic after you dropped me off. Didn't the time just fly by this afternoon?

Wish you could see my word verification for this posting ...
it is CHUMS!!

Vivienne said...

Hi Hildie,

Wow how appropriate, 'Chums'!!!
Yes, getting home via Rowlands Gill wasn't a problem at all.

I think we all shared a very special day.