Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The man in a "skirt" killed my car!

Well, it's been a while since I wrote anything down on here. Not a bad thing, I hear you say!

The title of this blog may give you a clue as to why but may leave you wondering. It's not a play on words or anything like that, it is simply a fact. To explain:

On returning from a day in Cheshire to visit the out-laws, we were travelling along the M6, minding our own business and singing along to Meatloaf. This is quite a normal sort of journey for SWMBO and I, but on this occasion, we had our youngest daughter and her three kids in the car too. And yes it does have 6 seats in it, before anyone has a go at me! It is, or rather was, a Grand Espace, so we can have six seats and still fit SWMBO's power chair and other necessary travel accoutrement's into the back. Our daughter has brought up her kids to appreciate Meatloaf, but we had never heard it sung in three different tempo's with three different sets of words before. After a while, we were forced to slow down by the weight of traffic and the fact that the overhead signs told us there was an accident ahead. We spent about ten minutes slowing and accelerating, as per usual in these situations, before coming to a dead stop in the centre lane. Either side of us the traffic was at a standstill too. About 7 or 8 seconds after we stopped, and just as Meatloaf's "Bat out of Hell" reached its crescendo, there was an almighty bang, and we shot forward about 10 feet. Fortunately the car was an automatic and we were stopped with my foot just resting on the brake, so when we were hit the car moved and reduced some of the impact, and I was able to apply the brake again in time to stop us hitting the car in front.

Once I had quickly checked to make sure that everyone in the car was ok, I went to check on the occupants of the car that hit us. There was only one person in the car, and he was quite badly shaken, but otherwise unhurt. Once the traffic started to move, we crossed to the hard shoulder and got out to check the cars and, at that moment, two Highways Agency vehicles and a break-down truck pulled up behind us. They had been on their way to the accident ahead and had been stood-down just as they were approaching us, had seen the shunt and stopped to offer assistance. They were also in contact with an ambulance that was a couple of hundred yards behind them, so got them to stop and check everyone out.

We were lucky as the only injury was our autistic grandson, who had been in the rearmost seat at the time, hit himself on the nose with his PSP! He was more bothered about the fact that he had, as a result of the bump, pressed a wrong button on his game and had lost a "life" in his battle against some alien or other. The driver of the other car though was really shaken by it, and was even worse when we finally got the tail-gate open and he saw the kids and the wheelchair. And this is where the title for this post comes in........

My granddaughter, a VERY fashion conscious 12-year old, was amazed to see that the other driver, when they helped him to the side of the road, was wearing a skirt and long, flowing robes! It was all we could do to stop her from saying it loud enough for the poor man to hear, but we explained the reason to her - and no - he wasn't Scottish and wearing a kilt. It turned out that he was (I think) a Hindu, (to my shame I'm no expert on religions) and had been celebrating at a family gathering, and his family had travelled from all over the country. He was still in his "ceremonial dress" from this meeting, and if my assumption that he was Hindi is correct, then it is likely that they had been celebrating Diwali. Given the obviously deep religious beliefs that this poor chap had, then seeing the children in the back of the car and realising how close to injury they came, had given him a real shock. I did my best to tell him that everyone was ok, and that as far as the children were concerned they had just had an adventure and couldn't wait to tell their friends! I didn't mention that "the skirt" was going to be the main talking point of the story - I was going to have to explain to the kids that the outfit that he was wearing was quite normal for his religion and was somewhat akin to their "Sunday best".

Well, the outcome was that we were able to carry on with our journey, only another 150 miles, and after about two minutes driving the volume in the rear was back to where it had been prior to all the excitement. The other driver phoned me the next day, ironically just as I was checking the piece of paper with his details on to phone him, to apologise for any inconvenience that he had caused. He was fine and had been able to continue his journey about 15 minutes after us, and once the Highways guys had duck-taped the front of his car back together!

I'm really upset though, because the insurance company won't pay for my car to be repaired, as they say it's too old (8 1/2 years) and that it will have to be written off. It's a shame, as I've paid out over £1,000 in the last six months to get it exactly right for SWMBO and the wheelchair, yet the insurance company won't take this into consideration when they (eventually) get round to making me an offer. Obviously, as a matter of course, the first offer will be ridiculously low, and the advice from my insurers was to tell them that if they consider that to be the value of the vehicle, then they should go out and buy me a replacement! Time will tell as to the level of offer they are prepared to make. It's been over two weeks now since they took the car away and I've heard nothing yet, despite the fact that they papers they left me with state that they will make an offer within 10 days of picking up the car. I have got a replacement vehicle, but I can't get SWMBO into it without causing her pain, and there is no chance at all of getting her power chair into it without causing massive damage.

It remains to be seen how long they will take, but I'm not holding my breath!!!

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