THE LUCKIEST MAN ALIVE
Driving up the A1 from East Midlands Airport a couple of days ago in this current spell of bad weather reminded me of an incident I was involved in around 20 years ago. (On a related note, Storm Ciara made for a lively landing, I can tell you. But it takes more than a spot of breeze to persuade Ryan Air to waste fuel diverting).
Anyway, 20 years ago, I was likewise driving up the A1(M) past Donny in similarly particularly breezy weather. I caught up with a high-sided lorry and he wasn’t doing well. Cross-winds were buffeting him as he struggled to hold a steady lane. I thought to myself, “I need to give him a wide berth”.
As I pulled into the outside lane (of two) to overtake I hesitated for a few seconds to pick my moment. Meanwhile, another car had caught me up from behind and sat on my arse, flashing his lights impatiently for me to get a move on and pass the wagon.
But I didn’t like the look of things at all, I didn’t; the wagon, as I said, was struggling to hold its line. Enough to give me second thoughts about the wisdom of pulling alongside it. I decided not to overtake but to pull in behind him.
“It’s all yours, mate” I thought and let the impatient motorist make his move.
He did. And just as he got alongside the wagon I watched as a gust caught it broadside and tippled him on to two wheels. Then further still. Until it passed its tipping point and was about to crash on the motorist beneath. All in a wonderful cinematic slow-motion.
But one of the three of us must have said our prayers that day as, just as he was gracefully falling as if in some pantechnicon ballet, he glanced a central reservation lamppost with the top of his wagon. The top, mind you! It gently bounced him back upright and the overtaker pulled clear.
Now, what are the chances of that? These lampposts are set every 200 yards or so and he was travelling around 50mph. So to glance one in such a specific split second was almost a miracle. On another one hundred occasions he would have smashed into it with the front of his cab, probably killing himself, crushing the motorist underneath and possibly me too in the resultant pile-up.
Maybe God had a purpose for one or all of us that day which didn’t include wasting us on the A1. As it was we all got away unscathed, although it would be nice to think that the impatient, overtaking motorist needed his car seat valeting and had to spend a fortune on air fresheners for the next few months.