24 September 2008

Follow that car ..........

One of the great things which has happened since I started my blog (and don’t jump to any conclusions about Hollywood Directors) is that it has brought me into contact with old friends. You may have read that an old pal, Harry McIntosh, whom I have only seen two or three times in 25 years saw my blog and made contact which was great. Similarly, some of my ex-colleagues from BT and IBM have seen it and have made contact, the latest of whom was Vanessa whom I’ve not seen for a couple of years. Let me tell you about Vanessa – a wonderful girl, with a heart of gold and the patience of a saint! 

I vaguely knew Vanessa in BT. She was the girl to whom I would go if I needed to know how to get the phone, fax, photocopier, coffee machine to work. You see, I’d given up having a secretary after the last one had threatened to set her English rugby-playing brother on me after a night out (long story) and I had decided that another salesman would benefit us all more in the long run, so, as a result, Vanessa, who worked in another section entirely, became our girl Friday. 

Almost simultaneously, the authorities decided that I should have a year’s sabbatical from the rigours of the daily drive into central London and I therefore had to look for alternative modes of transport. The train service from Maidenhead was awful and even more awful, it terminated at Paddington. The local coach service was even worse, so after a week or so, I decided that another method of travelling was called for. 

I approached Vanessa, who, as usual cowered, wondering what obscure request I had for her that day, and I enquired if she really did live in Langley and would she be interested in driving into the office with me. As it turned out, Vanessa was as fed up with public transport as I was and as I had a parking slot directly outside the office, it sounded like a marriage made in heaven. The logistics and the contribution I would make were agreed (a bee Vanessa will have in her bonnet for years!) and the following morning a car pulled up at the designated meeting spot and off we went. 

The first part of the journey into London, along the M4 was quite straightforward although I objected strongly to the fact that she had Capital radio on. I suggested that as I was the paying passenger, Radio 4 would be better. We got to Chiswick and, as I’d been driving that route daily for the last 8 or so years and knew every nuance of the traffic system, I suggested she change lanes here, move out there, get into that lane over there, stop here, take that turning here etc etc etc. I must’ve been a rail pain but I looked upon it as education. Over the previous 8 years I reckoned that by judicious use of the various lanes and rat-runs you could save yourself about 20 minutes on a journey. Multiply the 40 minutes saved per day by the 240 days a year you work and you save ….wait for it…….wait………a whopping 7 days a year! Another weeks holiday!  Vanessa would no doubt say that she used those extra 7 days to come out to Maidenhead to pick me up but that’s another story. 

Anyway, we got to Kensington and were just about to turn onto the main road when a Post Office van swerved in front of us and a mail sack fell out of the back door. Although only about 7am I was still alert enough to dash out, grab the bag, throw it into the back of Vanessa’s car and scream, ‘Follow that car’.  Vanessa drove off after the rapidly disappearing red van like a pensioner doing their driving test but after a few encouraging expletives,  we eventually caught him and handed the sack back to a very relieved and thankful driver.  We got to the office without any further incident but later that morning when I went to ask Vanessa how you loaded staples into a stapler I was told she was down in the first aid area lying in a darkened room and trembling. That was the first morning's drive in – she only had 4 years to go!


Anonymous said...

The bit that Tom has left out is that when he got out of the car with the post bag, the lights changed, and I drove off. Tom then tried to get in someone else's car. I still won't try parallel parking with someone else in the car, and in fact last week, someone commented on my driving and I got out of the car. Also, my memories include Tom yelling rude comments to OTHER drivers, and my pointing out that its never the passengers who get stabbed in road rage incidents! But I still love Tom, in a love hate kind of way! Vanessa

Anonymous said...

And I am further reminded of the time, I undertook a lorry on the roundabout with Tom SCREAMING NO NO NO DON'T. My passenger car seat changed colour that day!