The fact that I am now driving what is essentially a guided missile has reminded me of yet another incident which I had locked away into a dark hidden room in my mind (the number of dark hidden rooms in my mind may well be at the centre of a number of my problems).
It concerns what happened one evening after I finished playing a football match, and those of you who know roughly what age I am will guess that this tale is set long, long ago (near a football pitch far, far away – well, Dalkey, at any rate). It was back in the days when a football had the texture and bounceability of a Christmas Pudding, when the only diving was done by goalkeepers (into sticky, suck-sounding goalmouth mud) and when our fans, if we’d had any, would have celebrated our goals by whirling rattles and throwing their flat caps in the air.
In short, I was about 24. A few teammates and I were going out straight after the match, so we decided to shower in the house of one of the team. He lived just a couple of hundred yards from the ground. To get to his house you drove to the end of the road to a T-junction, then turned right.
As we were going such a short distance I didn’t bother changing, just took off my football boots and slipped on my shoes. I drove down to the T-junction as any 24-year old bloke would, i.e., as fast as possible, leaving it as late as possible to brake. That was when I discovered the problem I was facing.
The lace of my unlaced shoe was trapped in the door. While I’d had no trouble reaching the accelerator, I couldn’t reach the brake.
I had never tried a handbrake turn before, and to be quite honest I didn’t try it then either. What I tried to do was slow the car down with the handbrake while turning quickly right so as to make it safely onto the other road. What I managed to do, however, was turn the car in a complete circle. I ended up facing in exactly the opposite direction, though it felt as if some of my innards and the half-time half-orange hadn’t quite managed it.
My car was now facing a teammate who was driving the car behind, who’d had to slam on his brakes as I’d apparently suddenly swung round to confront him like a duellist having reached the count of ten. I still remember the look on his face.
So if any of you are worried about how I’m going to manage driving a car with dodgy brakes, I’m sure he’ll tell you all you’ve nothing to worry about.
Though I noticed that he never, never accepted a lift anywhere with me after that.