Going off the road

In the early light of a June morning, my uncle was disturbed from his sleep

“Four o’clock in the morning, the cows in the field down the road started bellowing. Now I’m an age now when I like a bit of a lie-in; well, not get up at four o’clock anyway.

“I decided I had better go and find out what was wrong so put my overalls on over the top of my pyjamas and drove down the road. I got to the field where the cows were and there was a dolly bird in a cocktail dress standing in the middle of the field.

“She had driven straight through the hedge and had half a tree stuck to the underside of her car. She said she had misjudged the bend and had found herself in my field.

“Anyway, I opened the gate for her and she drove off without another word – still with half a tree stuck underneath it, with the right wing caved in and the right-hand lights gone altogether. I reckon she was afraid of being caught for drunk-driving for her to drive off so fast.”

(My uncle’s account of his encounter with the woman in the field included a number of adjectives that would be used by farmers but are probably not appropriate for polite company).

What was surprising was that the hedge still remained to have holes made in it; stories of cars going through it were common in childhood days.

On one occasion, my grandfather had fitted a new gate, together with new gateposts, a costly business when you are a small farmer. The following week, a man in an MG sports car had contrived to come round the bend at such a speed that he had demolished the lot. The miracle was that he had walked away uninjured.

On another occasion, there had been a knock on the farmhouse door in the early hours of the morning. A man stood on the doorstep and  said his car had gone through the hedge and was there a hotel nearby where he could stay. My grandfather told him that he would have a long walk and that he had better come in and sleep on the settee. A breakdown truck was ordered in the morning and the car towed away. (My grandfather used to offer similar hospitality to passing gentlemen of the road. “Alec,” my grandmother would say, “one day we will be murdered in our beds”).

Passing holes in hedges can prompt lengthy speculation on what vehicle might have made an unexpected exit from the road.

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