Allegro in A minor (shunt)


A tale from the past. And, no, I wasn’t the driver…

Picture the scene: summer 1983 in a well-known Scottish town. The rain that has poured down for much of the week has finally abated, its place taken by dour grey clouds that seem to suck the colour out of the landscape.

An Austin Allegro containing four high-spirited but (mostly) harmless teenage lads enters a large car park adjacent to playing fields.

The Allegro’s driver, keen to avail of himself of his alleged line of ‘tick’ at a nearby chippy, parks parallel to the kerb that forms the boundary between the playing fields and the car park. He goes to exit the car but is stopped in his tracks by the laughter of four pre-teenage girls standing at the edge of the playing fields. He pauses a second then curses loudly – the girls are laughing at his car.

Enraged, he hatches a plan. There’s a long, shallow puddle about 20 feet in front of the Allegro. It’s even closer to the girls – close enough, he reckons, for the spray to soak them if he drives through it at speed. The decision is made. He snicks the Allegro into first gear and floors the throttle.

His plan nearly works, but the girls manage to evade the wall of spray. Emboldened, they redouble their verbal assault on the Allegro and its hapless driver.

The driver knows he should just ignore them. But he can’t. Not with his friends in the car. There’s only one thing for it – engage reverse and hope to soak them at the second attempt.

He revs the venerable A-series to 3000 rpm then drops the clutch. The Allegro lurches backwards, throwing up a cascade of water as it traverses the puddle. It’s a good attempt, but not good enough – the girls once again adroitly dodge the spray.

Cursing his luck, the driver takes his foot off the throttle and gently depresses the brake pedal. Too gently: the Allegro slows but is still travelling at perhaps 6 mph when it strikes the wheel of a parked earth-moving truck that the driver has somehow hitherto failed to notice. The truck shrugs off the impact but the Allegro’s boot looks like Cyril Smith’s been using it as a trampoline.

To this day, I don’t know how the driver explained the accident to the police, his insurers and his parents. And if he told them the truth, did they believe him?

After all, no-one could be that stupid, could they?

Home page image: public domain

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