On my way home along one of the lanes leading to the farm yesterday afternoon, I drove up behind a tractor pulling a muck-spreader. I was in no hurry and waited patiently behind him for my turnoff. He saw me and obviously tried to act the perfect gentleman farmer, pulling over with right wheels grinding on the verge, in an obvious gesture that I should overtake.
Not one to kick my heels whilst my windscreen was being pelted with bits of manure, I took his cue and started to overtake the muck-spreader. I drew almost level with the tractor, before, to my horror, I realized that the road had narrowed slightly. I was suddenly hit with the nasty suspicion that there wasn’t going to be enough room for 10 tonnes of machinery and my beloved little car on the remaining few square meters of tarmac. One of us would have to go.
I quickly weighed my options, trying to decide between the ditch and the tractor. Neither appealed. Never very decisive in moments like these, I took the third choice and slammed on the brakes.
The noise from the impact of muck-spreader hitting car was deafening.
At exactly the same time that my car was being wrecked, I wondered in a detached manner whether the insurance people would cough up for the repair of passenger doors written off by errant muck spreaders.
I stopped the car and shaking, I climbed out to meet the driver of the tractor who had stopped a bit further up the road. I noted with dismay that it was our neighbour, who had very kindly agreed to lend us his refrigerated van so that we could get our direct selling venture off the ground. I could hardly afford to upset him.
“Did I hit you? J’ai rien senti” he asked, concerned. I dismally nodded the affirmative and followed him reluctantly to survey the extent of the damage to the other side of the car. He walked round, and then stopped so abruptly that I nearly bumped into him. Instead of twisted metal, unblemished silver paint shone in the sun. Both wing and doors were intact. We stopped and stared.
Then he walked slowly forward to the wing mirror which had snapped backwards against the car and pushed it back into place with a clunk. “It must have just touched the muck-spreader” he said, looking at me strangely “.. and that’s what you heard. Well, I’ll be on my way, bonne journée” and with that he headed off towards his tractor without another word. He didn’t have to say anything else; his thoughts were ringing in my head as clear as a bell:
“Bloody women drivers!”