Yes, I am driving a courtesy car. This is because last week I managed to successfully wreck the clutch on my Ford Cmax. Apparently, according to everyone I know, it is because of my (lack of) driving skills - apart from my good friend Mrs A who is blaming it on normal wear and tear.
Now that's what I call a true friend.
So last week Master Ben and I set off for Cambridge for a tennis tournament and it became apparent en route all was not well with my car. As we returned home later in the day, we had to negotiate a small but steepish hill just outside of Cambridge where the revs moved into the red danger zone and there was simply no power at all in the engine - despite my gentle verbal encouragement - which normally my car responds to very well indeed. We only just about made it to the top of the hill - whereupon I knew a difficult journey lay ahead.
Thus followed a humiliating journey - I actually had to stay in the inside lane and at one point even sit behind a caravan. Frankly, this is one of my worse case road nightmares - stuck behind a caravan going at 50mph and not being able to do anything about it apart from drum my fingers on the steering wheel and sing "Why are we waiting?" It's almost worse than being stuck behind a Sunday Driver - unless, of course, you're stuck behind a Sunday Driver towing a caravan. Frankly, these people should only be allowed to travel between the hours of midnight and 6am in the months of July and August because otherwise they cause major tailbacks, road traffic incidents and widespread blood pressure amongst general road users. (Including me, obviously.)
I have to commend Master Ben on his bravery though - as I spent the whole journey narrating every clutch change, rev, manoeuvre and maligning every passing vehicle with copious colourful descriptions while he had his head in a copy of the Famous Five only looking up once. What a cool dude! If I recall correctly, the moment he looked up was my first and only attempt to overtake the caravan when my descriptions might have been even more colourful than usual - not only because there was simply no power in the engine but having gently encouraged (again) the car passed the said offending vehicle - I found myself stuck behind Caravan No 2.
Anyway, on the route back I planned to take a few minor detours to avoid a few hills. There was, however, one unavoidable stretch of road with a series of gentle minor hills/inclines which has a long flat stretch preceding it. I decided the best course of action was the to build up as much speed as possible on the flat segment in order that we might somehow propel ourselves forwards up the inclines. This tactic worked admirably as we managed to get home safely - although I have to say I was a little sweaty and slightly red-faced on arrival. Master Ben took it all in his stride though - I think his first words when we got home something like "What's for tea?" whereas mine was "You have no idea what I've been through! The clutch has gone! I had to sit behind a caravan!".... and so on and on and on. For about an hour. At which point Mr T was looking rather too fondly at the kitchen knives.
So I have a courtesy car at the moment. It is some Japanese thing. I'm sure it's very economical but it's like a shaky baked bean tin made out of fibre glass. On Sunday I drove on the M25 on it - which if you're unfamiliar with the British road network - is a 117 mile orbital road around London which, as you can imagine, is very, very busy indeed. I swear to God trying to get up speed in that tin can was worse than driving my Cmax with a naff clutch. Accelerating to 60 mph took about - 5 minutes? Okay, okay it was probably was about 30 seconds. But it was the longest thirty seconds of my life! I can't wait to get my Cmax back - I miss the old girl!
( I'd still rather drive a Bugatti Veyron though.)