Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Friday the 13th

I never used be be superstitious about Friday the thirteenths. I might have counted the odd grains of salt and thrown magpies over my shoulder, and walking around a ladder instead of under it meant I didn't get anything landing on my head, but Friday the thirteenths were just any other day of the week to me.
Until last Friday, which just happened to land on the thirteenth.
I was heading off to the last DAS do of the year. The car was packed to bursting with the kit belonging to me, the Ex-partner-in-crime on the back seat, and the mighty leader of our pack, Grimkell at the wheel.
Thanks to heavier traffic than usual in Londinium we'd set off an hour or so later than planned and all three of us were looking forward to getting to the Scout camp where we were going to stay and putting our feet under a table at the bar there, and seeing all our friends, both Viking and Saxon.
The journey was dull, drab, dark and wet as we headed North along the M1. The traffic was still heavy with other people either hurrying home or escaping for the weekends which slowed us to a near halt on a couple of occasions, and we also saw the tail-end of a nasty accident at one point.
We were nearly at our junction and I was longing to get to our destination and stretch my paws when a loud noise shook me out of my day-dream.
From the back I heard the EPIC say "That's the rumble strips!" and the next I knew there was a huge 'crash' and then the car was spinning round and round and heading across towards the hard shoulder.
I didn't have time to think anything much before we hit the barrier on the far side of the motorway and began spinning back to the central reservation again.
The barrier got closer and closer to me and I braced myself for an almighty crash which happened when we hit the central reservation and began skidding back across all three lanes of traffic until we once again got to the hard shoulder.
All I remember was watching the oncoming traffic heading towards me and thinking to myself "I'm notgoing to die! But I am really, reallyscared of getting hurt!"
To my amazement, we carried on to the verge next to the hard shoulder and came to a halt.
I heard the EPIC say "We've stopped..." and after I realized I could move and nothing was trapped or squashed, I asked if everyone was alright which to my enormous relief both chaps replied that yes, they were both in one piece with no dents or leaks anywhere.
I remembered what I'd been told in case of an accident on the motorway and got out of the car and scurried as far away from it as possible, which as we were on the edge of a rather steep drop wasn't very far.
I know it was unlikely but it went through my head that the car was going to go up in flames or get hit by a ten tonne truck any second, and while Grimkell and the EPIC did a quick rekkie of the damage I stood alone as far away from the traffic as I could get.
It was only when the EPIC came up to me and asked if I was alright that I realized my legs were shaking uncontrollably, and when I explained that I 'couldn't' go back to the car, even to get my lighter, the EPIC went and grabbed my large sheepskin cloak and the lighter from the car and gave them to me.
The wind and rain decided it was time to get rough and the sheepskin, although making me warmer and more waterproof, also made me a bigger target to blow over and I will readily admit that as I stood there getting buffeted by the gale, soaked by the rain and with the noise of the traffic whizzing past at 80mph and hitting bits of debris into the air as they did so, I was fucking scared!
Luckily, we'd stopped right by an emergency telephone and Grimkell called for help as soon as he'd checked that the car wasn't on fire and had definitely come to a standstill, and within minutes a couple of Highway Incident chaps came along to check we were alright and find out what had happened.
After they'd checked us over and helped us sort out a 'lift', they put up some warning lights so that oncoming traffic would hopefully stay away from us, and also that the pick-up truck would be able to spot us more easily.
After they'd done that I was able to get back in the car and sit down and give my legs a chance to stop shaking, and to my delight I remembered a bottle of cheapo-Cinzano-type stuff that I'd bought to drink at the banquet, and after a couple of good swigs I began feeling warmer and decidedly less shaky.
By the time the pick-up truck turned up I was halfway through the bottle and feeling decidedly more cheerful and was tempted to give the driver a big hug for rescuing us.
Grimkell had the choice of either being towed to the next junction exit and calling a garage, or paying to get taken to our destination, and as the insurance would cover it, we got a lift all the way to the Scout camp, and I have never been so relieved to get anywhere before.
Grimkell and the EPIC began unloading the car while I went to the hall to see if anyone could give us a hand with taking everything out, and after I explained what had happened, just about everybody went out to help.
It was only the next day however that I went to look at the damage to the car in detail.
Someone must have been looking out for me as the car was a right off, and given the circumstances, we should have been as well.
How we managed to hit the central reservation, spin across three lanes of traffic, hit the other side, spin across all three lanes again before hitting the barrier once more before repeating the process without hitting or getting hit by any other traffic and getting out without a scratch, is seriously Lucky!
And I can honestly say, I have never been so glad as when I woke up the next morning and thought,

'I'm still alive!'.

I might stay in bed on the next Friday the 13th though, just in case.
Friday the 13th