If you sleep in your car, be aware that your lower legs may well start to swell! It’s to do with gravity stopping the blood from flowing properly back to the heart.
Anyhoo, so I’m in town trying to secure an extension to my bank loan and as I leave the building I feel a sharp pain in the chest and the life goes out from me. Mm, perhaps my swollen legs aren’t a sign of gravitational forces, or my MS playing up? Could it be the ticker?
So, now I’m in A&E and taken through for an x-ray. It looks fine. However, to rule out the possibility of a blood clot, they perform tests and keep me in overnight for a CT scan the next day. (The feel of a bed again, ah!)
Next day, scan is duly undertaken. A few hours later, up walks a doctor and says, there’s good news and bad news. I thought, “I didn’t know they did comedy on the NHS.” I fix a suitably concerned look.
Dr: “The good news is, you don’t have a blood clot.”
Smile from me and some comment of relief. Pause.
Dr: “The bad news is, you have a lesion on your lung and they want to take a further look at it before they decide what to do.
As punchlines go, I thought it was quite poor. But the denouement was priceless. Before I could muster a response he blurts, “Now, when we mention cancer a lot of people panic…” Bless him, I was probably his first.
A place was logged for me to receive a follow-up phone call the next week and off I went. (I know, I was shocked too, it’s not like that on Casualty. I was hoping they’d be pushing people out the way as they bundled me onto a trolley and down for emergency surgery by the worlds best, who happened to be playing golf in the area that day and received the call and magnanimously declared, “No, my birdie can wait, there’s a man with a lump, and I’m not talking trousers here!” Of course, on the way to me, he’d also deliver a baby at roadside, pull a drowning kid from a river and give a heart attack victim vital cpr and stick a pen in their airway to help them breathe, like Quincy used to do.)
A cheering treat was in store. I’m living in a car, diseased like a biblical leper and now with a new pernicious lodger. “I’ll have a slap up meal, buy some beer, find a quiet locale and get slaughtered.” That’s what I reckoned and the slaughtering very nearly happened but not in a dreamy alcoholic way, more of a, literally getting slain type slaughtered way.
I chose a seafood establishment of the famous chain variety thinking, tried and tested, can’t go wrong. Well, as it turns out, this particular branch didn’t seem to be aware of the need to change the chip fat once in a while. It was a soggy, stench filled bland mush. Never mind, can’t go wrong with a few beers and a good nights kip?
As it happens, if you park up in a country lane near Harrogate, it can go wrong.
Looks idyllic doesn’t it?
I parked in a lay-by out of sight so as not to cause alarm.
I cracked open a tin, reclined the driver’s seat and settled down to sup with a bit of Bob for company:
About five minutes and a few sips in, at approximately 11.45 pm, a white car came screeching round the corner and skidded to a stop a foot in front of my bumper. It was dark but I could make out that it was some souped up Clio-sized car. It flashed its headlights, twice!
I froze. “Oh God, Doggers! Don’t move! They might take it as a sign your interested!” (Top tip: if you are going to live in your car, best familiarise yourself with the protocols involved in one of man’s more repugnant hobbies, lest you mistakenly give a come on. As it was, here and now, all I knew was they flash their lights.)
Heart racing. They flashed again and still I remained rigid. It lurched forward to pull parallel to the driver’s door. There was some bald-headed grizzly type glaring, and checking with his passenger who appeared as a sinister silhouette to me. I wound down the window.
“South Yorkshire Police! We’ve had reports of burglaries in the area, get out of your car!”
I knew they weren’t Police but another terrifying thought gripped me. My car won’t start unless the seat belt is plugged in. I needed to stall for time as I pulled down the belt as slyly as possible.
“Certainly, Officer. Can I see your identification please?”
“Don’t mess us about, get out of the car and stand at the back! Now!”
“Yes, of course, just give me a second.”
Click, at last, the seat belt found home. I slammed my foot on the brake, started the ignition! At the same time, a look of rage transformed the grizzled face into fury. As I rammed my foot on the accelerator, so did he and we shot off in opposite directions. I was skidding on the loose screed in the lay-by, throwing stones in all directions.
Was he going to U-turn and chase me down? I couldn’t think straight because the nearest Police Station was back in the direction they headed. “I’ll have to double back? Don’t be an idiot, drive to Wetherby! It’s about four miles!”
My imagination was racing faster than the car. Scenarios playing; of course, they’d have to chase me down, I saw his face! They’d ram me into a ditch, slit my throat, leave me for dead! I kept glancing feverishly in the rear-view mirror expecting to see the tell-tale lights of the hunter, stalking its prey.
It felt like the longest drive of my life, like being chased in a nightmare but your legs can’t move, stuck in quicksand!
I careered into the Police Station car park but, to my horror, there didn’t seem to be any lights on. Quick, dial 999!
I got through to the switchboard, blurting and trying to swallow the panic. She reassured, Officers would be with me shortly and to stay with the car. Stay with it, I was practically melted to it! Again, time deliberatly dragged it’s feet, each second a clunking echo.
Five minutes later, I’m eyeing the entrance wondering what the hell’s happened and knowing that any minute now a white Clio will come slowly rolling by and close the net on my impending sacrifice. A tap on the passenger’s window almost killed me with fright.
“Oh, for f…!” As I jumped so hard I thumped my head in the cushioned roof.
“Police, you okay, sir? Come on, follow me.” At least this time, he had a uniform and ID.
Inside looked like a dilapidated security cabin. This is Britain in the age of austerity, while the leeches dine at the finest restaurants and laugh at the plight of the paupers, the Guardians, the one’s charged with keeping us all safe, languish in under-equipped, forgotten and rotten little hovels.
But it now took on a new excitement. Safe as I finally was, or so I thought, it then became a bone fide mystery. Police work ensued. First thing they did was contact North Yorkshire Police as the incident had strictly taken place on their side of the border. Crackling radio responses assured that no further incidents had been reported and none of their Officers were in the area.
Then a brief message to hold, while they contacted South Yorkshire Police. The news came back, South Yorkshire had no one in the area either. A look passed, “See, I told you so, they were criminals!”
“Looks like you had a lucky escape there.”
I waited a few seconds but, no, it didn’t happen. Surely, this was the point in Starsky and Hutch where we all piled into the red Gran Torino with the go-faster white stripe and went “a-huntin'” for the bad guys? Or a radio would gasp to life again as some traffic cop, nearing retirement had used his years of gained wisdom to give chase to a vehicle fitting the description and was now cornering the “perps” in an abandoned warehouse. Back-up would then arrive and grizzled perp would appear on the roof, brandishing a weapon shouting, “You’ll never take me alive you dirty coppa’s!” because he would also have mysteriously morphed into James Cagney. A volley of SWAT team shots would ring out and he’d teeter, briefly, before falling, dead-weight to the ground! The accomplice would then emerge from the shadows, hands raised, “Don’t shoot, he made me do it, I swears to ya mister, he made me.”
And then he’d go straight, having learned his lesson and we’d all sleep safer in our beds.
No, the Officer sniffed and said:
“We’ll keep a look out for them but chances are they’re long gone by now. Pity you didn’t manage to get a number plate.”
“Yes”, I thought, “real pity but I was kinda pissing my pants at the time, trying not to get murdered!” At least they could have launched a drone or two. He then looked at me, grinned and said, “You do know it’s illegal to drink alcohol in the front of your car?”
“I wasn’t driving? The engine was off? I was in my sleeping bag?”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s against the law, even if the engine’s off and the key’s out the ignition.”
To round off my wonderful day, I was then arrested, slammed in a cell overnight and brutally sodomised by both Officers.
I made that last bit up because that’s what would have happened in the movies, or something like that, probably. And besides, I thought your attention might be waning. 🙂
What actually happened was, he knew I hadn’t consumed enough alcohol to be over the limit (and did say the stuff about drinking in the car, so another free top tip there), so advised that I could pull round into a local doctors surgery car park for the night and that I’d be safe there.
It was all very bonhomie as I left and I felt like part of the gang again. One of the lads, back under the wing of righteous protection.
I drove through the town, struck by the luminescent sleepiness that befalls a market town at night. The light, like a warm blanket, holds the breath of the place until the hustle and bustle is ready for the off again. The odd fox, nervously skits toward the shadows from an upturned bin. And a car, a lone car, parked right across the entrance to the doctor’s car park. Parked in such a way to block the entrance!
A white car! And the entrance was such that the only way out was to reverse. I stopped.
The driver’s door opened and a man got out. A grizzled-faced bald man, holding a shot-gun, with a look of pure evil, revenge.
My stomach quivered. I was trapped. I looked in the rear-view mirror and there was salvation, the Police had followed me round to see that I was safe. I flashed a look of triumph at the grizzled perp but he didn’t flinch. A psycho! Hell bent on taking us all out. As my face sank, a tap at the passenger window almost destroyed what was left of my fracturing mind. It was the Policeman! He slowly signalled me to wind down the window. He smiled and said:
“We don’t take kindly to hobo’s in these parts, now, get out, of the fucking car!”
Oh gosh, I’ve done it again. Everything up to the white car at the doctors bit was true, but I made the last bit up. Exciting though wasn’t it 🙂
There was a car blocking the entrance. But it had a young man at the wheel who gave me one of those, “I’m so tough, what the ‘f’ are you looking at, looks.” He started his engine and moved off. It did strike me as odd again, because the only thing he could have been looking at from the place he was angled, was the back of the local supermarket, where the delivery bay is. However, now that I was almost as good as a fully fledged cop, I took the number plate and rang it in!
Never heard anything else about it 😦
I suppose the moral of the story is, crime is rife. Or maybe, “cheer up when things look glum, there’s worse to come.”
I’m due to have a repeat scan on the 12th Aug. If the lodgers spread his wing’s they’ll take it from there. Wish me luck 🙂
(all rights are reserved to this story and I’d be glad to negotiate a fab knockout deal if anyone wants to make a film out of it 🙂 ).