Hello? HELLO? I'm stuck on the verge of making a total prat of myself

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The Independent Online

I'm not really that knowledgeable about cars: opinionated certainly, just not that knowledgeable. Growing up, my dad had a lovely old Mercedes and I adored it. Nowadays I wouldn't dream of buying one as they exist only to ferry people like Simon Cowell about.

Extraordinarily, I did, briefly, review cars for GQ. I don't know how this happened but I ended up driving a Ferrari around for a week. When it came to having my picture taken with the car, I thought it would be apt to have two gentlemen in tight leather chaps and big handlebar moustaches draped over it since I had compared driving the thing around to taking an enormous cock out for a spin. That was my last review.

I've just bought myself a new car as a present for something that I haven't quite managed to explain to Stacey yet. Modesty prevents me from telling you what the said vehicle is, but suffice to say that I expect to hold on to my licence for, at the most, three months after delivery of the thing.

Technically this shouldn't really happen. Cars tend to be so complex nowadays that I still don't understand why they don't simply shout at you something like "slow down, you twat, there's a smokey on your tail," but then I suppose I wouldn't have any need for my CB radio and would lose my intimate radio relationship with several burly truckers. Cars do tell you pretty much everything else. They bleep if your seat belt isn't on, whine if your service is due, howl if you leave the handbrake on and pant heavily if you pick up a hooker.

The only thing that they don't seem to find that important any more is to alert you to the fact that there is no oil left in your engine. Well, to be fair, it does alert you, but not in the normal way. My car alerted me by making a terrifying grinding sound before conking out and locking the steering so that I had to stop right in the middle of a roundabout directly above the M4.

I had the full load - wife, two children and black Labrador. As we scrambled on to the high bank at the side of the road it must have looked to the passing motorist as if we were a group of Sloane refugees making our way to Cirencester to demand asylum. It was even worse for me as some Greatest Hidden Camera Moments Ever Part 36 programme had just shown an old clip of mine where I had a recovery vehicle called out to help me dressed as Father Christmas sitting next to my broken down sled. He who sows the wind ... Passing motorists couldn't believe their luck as they spotted me, and some went round the roundabout seven or eight times to give themselves enough shouting time. "Hello, I'm stuck on the motorway", "Hello, I'm on the verge", and - my personal favourite - "Hello, I'm in my car and you're not - yours is rubbish."

It took me about 20 minutes to persuade the reluctant breakdown man that there were no hidden cameras anywhere and that he could safely get out of his vehicle and try to give us a hand. It was unfortunate that he chose the very moment that a large truck roared past us to step out of his cab. My dog, Huxley, already spooked by our impromptu picnic on the hard shoulder, finally snapped and sank his teeth into the poor man's grimy overalls. He yelped, Huxley yelped and then he jumped back into his cab and roared off hurling abuse. Huxley looked very pleased with himself and I didn't have the heart to chastise him.

We eventually found refuge in a nearby Little Chef. The diminutive cook himself came out and offered us a free breakfast. It turned out that his brother - another person of restricted growth - was an actor and had appeared in one of my sketches on TV. I racked my brains to think which one. I settled on that one with me dressed as Snow White hitchhiking with seven dwarves hidden in a nearby bush. I was spot on.

That's the second week in a row that I have discussed a person of restricted growth, for which I apologise. I'll try and think of some tall stories for next week. I pick up the car tomorrow so if there's no column, call the hospitals.