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I'm in one piece but for one or two days afterwards I'm a little numb

Slowing to turn left, I feel the car begin to slip.

It's been raining hard all day, harder while I've been driving. Rain bounces off the road like bullets ricocheting off buildings [1]. There's water on the road and as the car turns it begins to aquaplane. A skid turns into a spin and the next thing I know it's up on the pavement and careening towards the barrier.

Time does not slow down. I do not see my life flash before me. I don't have time to think of my wife and children. I do get the first two letters of a common swear word out of my mouth - "Fu …" - but then the car hits the barrier. And, thankfully, bounces off.

I sit for a minute, the car facing the wrong way, half on and half off the path. Thank God, it's a quiet road, I think. Jesus, thank God nobody was on the path.

I get out to inspect the damage. There's a burning smell in the air. Rubber, I'm guessing. Soapy bubbles swell and pop as my windscreen cleaner fluid flows down the road.

The bodywork has been damaged, but the wheels are fine, the engine turns over. And I'm all in one piece. Time to thank providence and phone the insurance company.

Yes, I'm in one piece, but for a day or two afterwards I'm also a little numb. An old public information film keeps coming into my head. One in which Jimmy Savile [2] shows that without a seatbelt we're all eggs just waiting to be cracked.

Some years ago I read a very fine book called Rumble Strip by Woodrow Phoenix. It's a graphic novel that looks at the way in which we have anaesthetised ourselves to what we are doing when we get behind the wheel of a car - steering a ton of metal through the streets.

But then it's impossible not to. We have organised our lives so that we are in constant motion. We drive for work, for convenience, for pleasure [3]. We're effectively cyborgs; half-human, half-automobile.

I have scraped the paintwork of my car before, but I've never really been in an accident. There was that time when my brakes failed driving over Stirling Bridge. But the traffic was heavy and I was going slow, so when my foot went straight to the floor all that happened was the car rolled forward and kissed the rear bumper of the one in front. Still, I was in a state of shock days later.

That was in my early driving days. I've been driving for more than two decades now. And I can't imagine life without a car. But when I broke my wrist I managed. That said, I couldn't wait to drive again. How long before the same happens this time?

FOOTNOTES

[1] Or so Hollywood has led me to believe.

[2] It's difficult to even type his name now, to be perfectly honest.

[3] As it happens, I was going to the movies.

Twitter: @teddyjamieson

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