It’s snowing! It’s snowing outside! It’s even snowing on my blog! Hooray!
Okay, so for some of you it might not sound that exciting; but I never get to see snow. Not ever. Every time it snows I’m stuck in the Caribbean forced to lounge around under palm trees and drink things with pineapple or coconut in.
But not this year, baby. Oh no. I’m here this year.
I love snow me. I love snowball fights (as long as I’m on the winning team, otherwise I sulk) I love sledging (even though it’s almost impossible to actually buy a sledge – they aren’t in stock all year and then as soon as it snows, they sell out), hell, I even love driving in the snow.
Some people find snow-driving scary; but I love it. To be honest, I love driving in general. To me a car has always represented freedom and adventure and midnight stupidity. I passed my driving test in the Spring, leapt into my gleaming gold Capri and immediately proceeded to crash into pretty much anything and everything I could find.
I was a fantastically bad driver, still am in many ways; but at least now I’m an experienced bad driver. I’ve spun off the road under every set of conditions imaginable. I’ve hit moving objects, stationary objects, stationary objects which moved immediately after impact and moving objects which rarely moved again.
Take, for example, exhibit a:
My beautiful pride and joy, my first ever car. Yes, it’s a bit on the gold side – but marvel at the shininess of that freshly polished bonnet.
Incidentally, in that photo (including me on the right) are three of the only four people who’ve ever paid to see Just for the Record in a cinema. Pity them.
I loved that car. I polished it every … well, once. Then I crashed it a lot. Witness exhibit b:
… which was shortly after I’d ploughed it into a twenty year-old cherry tree at just over ninety miles per hour. I know it was twenty years-old because, whilst I was lying on the floor in a pool of my own blood, the owner ran across his garden (which was where the Capri had come to rest)shouting “That bloody cherry tree’s been there for twenty years!”
Honestly, mate, if I’d know the tree was there at all I wouldn’t have hit it.
Well, to be fair, I probably would have. You see, most Capris had one fatal flaw: corners. They just didn’t respond well to instructions from the steering wheel. Great in a straight line, not so good if you need to avoid pensioners, small animals or cherry trees.
My Capri had three flaws (excluding the colour):
- the aforementioned steering
- the engine – replaced by a previous owner with a far larger one which had been … tinkered with. It was VERY fast. Silly fast. I once outran a Porsche – which shouldn’t be possible in a shonky Capri. (Turns out, years later, the previous owner got arrested for robbing a bank, which leads me to suspect this car had been set up as a getaway car). A big, fast engine isn’t a flaw on its own; but is when you add in the last flaw:
Take another look at that first photo. Note the happy, clean-cut teenagers posing sweetly for the camera. Now look at the same guys after a year of been driven around by me:
Granted, everyone still looks happy; but there’s obviously been some dreadful traumas in the recent past – how else would you account for the clothes? Or the hair? For the love of God, man, look at the hair! Check out my head-band, Red Dwarf T-shirt tucked into ice-wash jeans combo – clear evidence of recent head injury if ever you needed it.
Apparently we also sold all my parents’ furniture to pay for our musical instruments. I was wondering where the TV was, but it’s the tiny thing over in the right-hand corner – remember when TVs were smaller than a billboard? Do you?
Six months, three cars (and many, many accidents) after passing my test it was Winter and it snowed heavily. Hooray! A new set of nasty conditions in which to be a twat. By now, I was a slightly more canny driver and, although perhaps not a safer driver, I did do a little bit of preparation.
The night of the first snowfall, I found a nearby field (back when such things existed) and practised skidding, sliding and generally losing control of the car in the snow until I had a fairly good grasp of how to do it … and, more importantly, how to regain control.
The next day at school, after collecting my chums, I roared into the school car park, span the car through 540 degrees and slid backwards into a parking space between two perfectly parked cars – much to the horror of everyone in my car … and the two teachers in the cars either side who were having a crafty fag.
Fag meaning cigarette and not homosexual. They may well have been gay teachers, but that’s neither here nor there. What is both here and there (or there and then) was their righteous fury at having set fire to their groins as their cigarettes dropped from their jaws slack with shock.
That was the first time I was banned from taking my car to school. The second was for driving from the passenger seat – something else I practised in a field.
All this is a long-winded way of saying that while I may still not be a good driver, crucially, I’m not scared of driving either. If I lose control of a car, I can, generally speaking, regain control reasonably quickly in circumstances other, safer, drivers may not have experienced.
Hence, driving in the snow holds no fear for the foolish (me) and while the rest of the country was cowering in their homes (or on the M25) under a thick blanket of snow, I decided it was the perfect time for a road trip.
Ah, road trips – the instigator of high adventure. Whether it’s a determination to find the Rollright Stones at three in the morning (I wasn’t to fucking know the big ones on Doctor Who were fibreglass. I was seven at the time, for fuck’s sake!), one of several failed attempts to find the Northern Lights (I wasn’t to fucking know how long it takes to drive to Scotland. I have no sense of direction, for fuck’s sake!) or deciding at 10.00 pm it would be a good idea to drive to Dudley Castle and run around in the background of Most Haunted: Live shouting ‘Whoooo!’ (I wasn’t to fucking know the show finished at midnight. I’m incapable of rational thought, for fuck’s sake! At least I got us from Crawley to Dudley in under two hours – that’s not bad going. Even if we did have to let the car cool down for two hours before it would restart) a road trip is always fun, always eventful and underpins much of my teenage/twenty-something memories.
Sadly, my need to see Bognor Regis at four in the morning so we can practise handstands has waned considerably in my thirties and since meeting my wife (and actually getting laid more frequently than once a millennium) road trips have fallen by the way side; so it was with considerable excitement that Mandy and I set off yesterday, in the worst driving conditions for twenty years, to go to IKEA.
Okay, so IKEA isn’t quite as exciting as driving to Sherwood Forest at midnight with a toy bow and arrow set to pretend to be Robin Hood, but I’m nearly forty for fuck’s sake. This is a middle aged adventure.
Or it would have been if we hadn’t got stuck in a snow-induced traffic jam for three hours before giving up and going home. Seriously, Eastbourne to the top of the M23: one hour. Top of the M23 to 0.4 of a mile past the top of the M23: THREE FUCKING HOURS!
Not the eight some of the poor souls stuck on the M25 had to endure, but three is bad enough thank you very much.
In the end we just turned round and went to the cinema in Crawley. In deference to my misspent twenties, we did actually sneak in; but since we’d already bought the tickets it was, at best, a pathetic form of rebellion.
We went to see Due Date, if you’re interested (or waiting, desperately, to find out what any of this has to do with scriptwriting*) and it was very good. There’s a podcast about the writing of it here, which is also very good.
If you find yourself stuck in a car with an incredibly entertaining, interesting and sexy wife, with snow piling up around you whilst you try to relive your lost youth in a pathetically misjudged and middle-aged attempt to buy cheap yet quirky flat-pack storage solutions from a Swedish furniture giant … go and see Due Date, I’d highly recommend it.
Right, I’m off to buy a sledge.
* Very little. Sorry.