Wednesday, May 18, 2005

It’s a curse I tell you

I promised you the tale of the family curse, so, are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…

‘Twas a dark and stormy night… ok it wasn’t, but it sounds better for the start of the story. The first incident I remember was about 17 years ago when I was on holiday with my parents in France. We used to go caravanning all the time and this holiday was no different. Except that it was.

Before the holiday my dad had been trying to get a spare wheel for the caravan. He’d not managed to because the caravan was a German make and no one in the UK stocked parts for it. He’d have to order one from Germany and it wouldn’t arrive in time for the holiday, so he didn’t bother. Our first day travelling in France we were detoured off the main road and through this little French town, down lots of twisty turny little French streets. Over in France manhole covers are set into the pavement (sidewalk) and they are square and usually right up to the kerb. So when dad had to negotiate a particularly tight bend, the caravan wheel mounted the pavement, and when it came down again it was with the wheel rim squarely on one of these metal covers, totally wrecking the wheel.

Imagine the scene. British holidaymakers, in a little French town, broken down in the middle of a diversion, completely unable to move the caravan from where it was. This was around 10am. Fortunately dad had European breakdown assistance, so off we went to the nearest phone box to place the call. About two hours later a tow truck turned up, driven by a typical car mechanic. Now both my parents and myself speak some French, but this guy spoke rural French, and not a word of English. Imagine someone from the states trying to understand someone from a small village in Somerset, hell, I can’t understand them! So after much gesticulating we finally understood that he would take the wheel away and try to get a replacement. Off he went, and there we sat. For a further SEVEN hours. Because of where we’d broken down someone had to stay with the car at all times otherwise the local gendarmes would’ve been upset, so we took it in turns to mooch around the town, get drinks and sandwiches at the local café and generally try not to stick out like a whole fistful of sore thumbs.

Finally the mechanic came back, and lo! he had a new wheel with him. More gesticulation ensued and we finally understood the reason for the long delay. The wheel had just made the trip across Europe from the manufacturer in Germany! Turns out they’d had to order one from the manufacturer, who then put it on a train in Germany, it travelled across the countries until it reached the nearest big station in France and the mechanic had had to drive to the station to collect it, and then bring it to us.

At the time we jokingly commented to each other that if dad hadn’t been looking at getting a spare then none of this would have happened.


The next incident was when I was a student. I had a little car to get about in, and I had one of those crooklocks for the steering wheel. I had been considering buying a new stereo, which I mentioned to my dad and he said I could have his spare (far better than mine). Off I went for a visit and the new stereo was fitted. Around that time there was an increase in the number of thefts of car stereos, so I wondered if it would be worth getting a stereo lock. This device is inserted into the cassette player and then locked into place in there, and had a cable tether to go around the steering wheel. So if someone wanted to steal the stereo they would have to practically wreck it to get it out of the car.

Well you know what thought did. Not two days after my musings, some *&^*!?* broke into my car and stole my totally unprotected stereo.


My mother has mentioned a couple more of this type of incident to me, but I don’t remember the details right now. Suffice to say that in each case an unpleasant event followed an innocent unacted-upon thought. You’d think, in my family, we’d know better by now. You think something like this then you do it, or else.

So, I’m sure you’re all wondering how this relates to my handbag being stolen. Well I’ll tell you. Last week I entertained not one but two innocent thoughts:

1. Hmm, I could really use a new handbag; the strap on this one’s getting a bit frayed.
2. I wonder if I can justify getting a new mobile phone…

See. I should be slapped.