Friday 5th February 2010, 01:14
Just for posterity, my awful car story from last weekend...
Gigging up country, including two nice gigs on the way up in neighbouring East Midlands settlements Okeham and Stamford. Okeham was a museum gig. A stage, set up among vintage cars and tractors. Odd but nice. Stamford was the 2nd gig that night, and a lovely - just lovely - downstairs comedy room, with low ceilings and great audience members and nice banter and good people and even fine cuisine including Sloppy Joes and Po' Boy sandwiches, which reminded me of our Louisiana and Texas stop-offs in America last year. Yum.
The next day would hold, in theory, two gigs in the Northwest. I opened in Preston, then while hotfooting it to Manchester for Friday gig no.2, my car conked out on the M60. Properly conked, as in wouldn't even make the hazard lights work, which is even more of a hazard, especially on a motorway with traffic accelerating towards you. I managed to get onto the sliproad, but no further. I called the RAC. A minute later, an AA van appeared. Hurray! I thought. But no, he merely yelled through his open window, "Have you called someone?" "The RAC," I responded. "Good luck," he yelled, and drove off. Bstrd (add the AAs to that).
Then an incident support truck arrived (who are not the police), and advised that if the police catch me here, even though the car's broken down, they can charge me £300 just for being broken down on the motorway. With that, the police arrived. I put on my biggest charm offensive, and sure enough wheedled my way out of any £300ness. My car started, the police said "Follow us off the motorway", and my car spluttered a metre before conking out again, as the police accelerated off into the distance.
RAC man arrived, spotted the fault and said it was unfixable tonight, so I'll tow you to where you're staying tonight. I didn't know where I was staying, so spouted various places I thought it might be - Sale, Hyde, Trafford, Rusholme... hoping they'd all be near each other. The RAC man laughed in my face in a "You're not from round here" kind of way.
I don't have good history impressing RAC chaps. The last time I needed one (for running out of petrol on the M1 - they don't take kindly to a basic fault like 'The tick-tock petrol bit pointed at the E not the F, and then it stopped'), he scoffed at me, "Are you ok to rejoin?" "Yes," I replied, "I am very happy with your service, and shall definitely rejoin at the end of the year." "No, you moron," his eyes said, "Rejoining the motorway from the hard shoulder." "Oh. Yes. Thanks. Bye."
So anyway. The next day, up in Manchester, a 2nd RAC man came to fix the problem - drivebelt came loose. £75. Fine. Fixed. That evening, on the way to Preston for my last gig before driving 4 hours home, the car conked out again. Balls. Phoned RAC man yet again, at 6pm, and he showed up at 10pm, to say, a) It's buggered, and will cost £1000 to fix, and b) you need to be towed home, but your RAC membership is invalid because you didn't update your address, so the tow home will cost £500. Tow truck will be here at midnight.
Thus began a night being towed home from Preston to Guildford, including a stop in Birmingham as tow truck man no.1 decided he had to go home (yeah, so did I, keep driving), so after 2 two-trucks, 3 RAC men, £1575 cost, 2 cancelled gigs, and a 7 hour drive home, I arrived back at 7am Sunday morning, much poorer than when I left. And to be honest thinking that those vintage tractors in Okeham Museum on Thursday night, probably would have been a safer bet than me knackered Kerensamobile.