Dom Joly: Pranging your mate's car is no laughing matter

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The Independent Online

We live in the very worst place in England, when snow comes. Our house lies in a valley and the only way out of the village is by way of three steep hills. A local farmer very kindly grits said hills but, even so, our family cars were unable to make an escape. We decided to dig in, delve deep within our larder, and live off our reserves.

This lasted for about seven hours until we developed cabin fever. We realised that we were going to have to try to make a break for the outside world or the kids would drive us mad and it would all turn into a bit of a The Shining situation with me rampaging about the place with an axe. Our first plan was to yomp out of the village. As my wife is Canadian, she has a certain cold weather hardiness that the rest of the family lacks. We wrapped up as though off on a trip to Antarctica – although our particular South Pole was the less exciting Londis in Fairford.

Off we trudged over the long field behind our house towards TV Wood, where televisions grow on trees. We'd got about three hundred yards when the kids demanded that they be pulled on their sledges. At five hundred yards, we demanded that they pull us on their sledges. At six hundred yards, we turned back for home under the scornful eyes of our hyperactive dogs and the family cat who had followed along, in that way cats do when they know you are going to fail at something.

"Losers..." he hissed as we slunk back past him. He then decapitated a robin for effect. That's the thing about cats and dogs – dogs never question you, they just think you're great; cats, on the other hand, just love to point out what a cretin you are.

Back home, we ate a can of cold baked beans and thought about other options. We decided that the best thing was to get the kids to go and stay with people who lived in a town with a shop – that way we could have some peace and quiet ... and other people could deal with them. But how to get them out? At this very moment a friend in the village, who also happens to have one of those 20-year-old Land Rovers that never ever seem to die, knocked on the door.

We gave him a cup of tea and many biscuits, and he eventually took the hint and offered up his Land Rover for an emergency evacuation. We defrosted the door handles using a kettle, and I set off with the two kids on my brave and selfless(ish) expedition into the icy unknown.

All was well for about five minutes. We made it over the hill and we were off towards Cirencester and main roads that were supposed to have been snow-ploughed. Then, disaster – a car up ahead was careering towards us out of control and I had to either take the impact or yank our car out of the way. I pulled hard at the steering wheel and we went hurtling off the road, and ended up hitting a huge snowdrift.

The kids were excited to have survived their first car crash, but the front of the Land Rover was in a mess and we were lucky that it was still working. After much huffing and puffing, I backed out and shamefully headed back towards our village. I called the owner of the Land Rover to warn him that we'd had a prang. "You crack me up, Dom," he said. "You do make me laugh, but you're not catching me out with your tomfoolery."

He just wouldn't believe me, and I wasn't looking forward to showing him the physical proof. Sometimes, it's hard to be the boy who cries wolf for a living.

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