Crash, Bang, Wallop.
My history of vehicle ownership in 3 simple titles.
Part one: CRASH
I was 18 and full on beans, bursting from the pub above Fulham Broadway tube station and slipped handsomely into my BMW 3 series. A clenched fist of power, the German whip fit me like a great suit or well-worn doc martins, at my six-foot six stature it didn’t feel silly or out of place to be my car at such a young age.
My plan was to escape London before the afternoon traffic and be at my parent’s place surrounded by bacon sandwiches and DVDs by sundown. Warm up the AGA mum I’m coming home.
What turned out to be a quick drink with friends turned into a melee of ADHD and black sambuca shots – knowing I had to drive I was stickily on the red bulls, which to be honest sinking 4 cans of that syrup is probably worse than sipping a G&T for an afternoon.
Unable to leave the party alone I managed to convince a close friend to peel off and Houdini back with me to the countryside for a weekend of well, nothing.
A quick loo break, phone off the table and in pocket, coats on, quick nod to each other, double thumbs up, let’s do this. High fives all round; and we were surfing down the escalators, over the road and feet first into my sweet ride within seconds of drawing our plan.
It was dusk by five and it felt like it. The pitch-black night sky leaked stickily ink all over our visuals, only the bright lights of my dashboard warning lights lit our faces as we bumped along the M1.
It wasn’t long until it was our junction, my mix tape had only been repeated twice so we must couldn’t have been driving fast as those CDs only held 45 mins of music and my parents lived quite far north back then, okay Northampton, but that’s pretty north for me for a dude that’s never really left Kensington.
Coming off the motorway we get a call from my friend in the next-door village, my wingman to this adventure, drunkenly took the call and agreed we should meet for a drink before entering my country compound. Little did he know the anxiety I had about missing dinner with the folks and the wrath of my dad for being a no show.
So off we went, taking the back routes, the only thought for me was the first pint of the day and a crisp camel light, cutting through country lanes with reasonable speed in the pitch-black night when all of a sudden, it happened.
Shit. Where are the breaks?
The cars back wheels locked as we took a tight corner, the swings to the left being anchored by its now dead legs – we are still travelling forward, and fast, I use my useless skiing skills to try and sled the car into position, we wiggle we speed down the lane; powering the wheel in the opposite direction, back and forth, like a steely eyed ship’s captain navigating his crew lives through a thousand foot waves.
With all my efforts the car does not correct itself and we are headed to the point of no return, a T-junction.
We both know it’s coming. I try teasing the breaks again and they still don’t respond. Trying to remember the pumping break action I was talk in drivers-education plus class. I give up and slam my left arm against my friend as we hit the verge. We brace. Our whole world is turned upside down. We dart into the sky and twist in the air like a second row trying to ballet, like a navy cannon missile we explode into the air heading straight for a large oak tree, slicing sideways in the air we hit the tree head on and almost pause. I can still remember the flashing kaleidoscope sky, land, sky, land as we spun in the air. Then a thawing moment, all moving in slow motions as we both screamed for our lives and the cars insides, coins, lighters and what not were thrown around the car mid-flight.
We drop with a thud.
The crunching of iron and steel shook the ground and still sung in our ears. We have landed on our side. My driver’s side is in the ditch, whereas my friend is suspended in the air, still strapped in. We look at each other in silence.
Then the car moves. Steely Yawns, slowly aching its self into the landscape it has just found itself, slipping peacefully into the verge it has chosen to lay its head for the final time.
Now landed, and safe, we start to laugh. A mad, open mouthed cry, wet eyed, laugh of life, a laugh that couldn’t believe that we were in one piece, that we had just survived something serious and that this could only ever happen to me.
Scrambling to find the seat belts we let ourselves free to roam around the car which in the dark was desperately disorientating. Within moments a car rolls up asking if we are okay to which my response was, ‘yes, we’re cool, just a bit worried about the engine, we cant get out without turning the power on’
To which their response was, ‘yes well, be careful, theres liquid spilling out of the car so don’t light anything up’
Oh my good god. Stunned silence I think the word for it is. We didn’t know what to do.. we had just survived our first flight and now we were going to be burnt alive. This is not how I planned my day. And as if by magic I hear the comforting sound of my Mum calling my name from the road. She is up at the window, on tip toes tapping hard to see if we are moving. She sees me and I flash her a smile to know we are okay.
I have no idea how my parents found me, or how it happened but they were there for me.
I think it was my Dad, master risk taker that he is, who made us get out of the ditch as soon there as soon as he saw the blood spilling from my car. Dominating commands were shouted to the upside down kids. A little flick of the key to get the power on, opening the window that wasn’t slammed into the ground and we climbed out of there like we were in a scene from the Jurassic Park franchise.
I’ve never been so proud to pass a breathalyser. Black ice in November, a serious danger you can only experience yourself and your instinct truly kick in. It honestly came from nowhere.
That 3 series BMW saved my life.
If it was not for the strength in core of that car, we would have been crushed, ripped apart by the tree, and then squashed when we eventually found the ground.
I never saw or drove that car again but always give her a knowing nod whenever I pass one on the drive home.
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