vendredi 18 mai 2012

P is for Puncture

P is for Puncture

The other day, I was driving along, looking forward to meeting a couple of friends for a visit to IKEA in Toulouse (that’s quite a shopping adventure nowadays), when there was a strange noise. I got out to investigate. This wasn’t just a puncture, it was ‘the entire tyre has disappeared and strewn rubber over the road for quite a distance’ type of puncture.

I stood forlornly by the side of the road in the drizzle, completely forgetting to don my smart fluorescent jacket and erect a warning triangle, as required by French law.

I made a somewhat hysterical phone call to Gavin. He couldn’t really do much as he was 15 kilometres away, it was 8.45 in the morning and we only have one car. Then a farmer on a tractor trundled to a stop, his load of fertilizer rocking precariously as he did so. He kindly moved my car to a somewhat safer position — we were on a main road after all — took a look at what remained of the tyre, frowned and declared it ‘mort’ [dead]. Then, having moved the five coats I keep in the car ‘just in case’ (well, the weather is quite variable here at the moment), a few books that didn’t make it to the recent local book swap, several recyclable shopping bags, a sack of pellets for the water softener, a folding chair and a map of Scotland, he still had some difficulty extricating the spare. He told me he would go and fetch his friend who lived nearby and was a mechanic.

Seeing my stricken expression, he reassured me that he would be back. Indeed, within 10 minutes the tractor returned, along with a car carrying the mechanic. I fear, judging by his appearance and expression, that he had been ushered out of the house somewhat precipitously. He changed the tyre, shook his head and said all my tyres appeared ‘mort’ or nearly ‘mort’. I must have driven over something even more lethal than the usual terrain.

In the meantime, I had rung a friend who kindly drove to my rendezvous to tell the others I couldn’t make it. Back home and off to the garage. There, everyone agreed, all the tyres were terminal. We were promised new ones of our choice of brand would arrive at 4pm. They did. Some €450 poorer (would I have spent as much in IKEA?), we returned home. But we did get a form to fill in that meant within six weeks or so a voucher for €50 off fuel would land in our post box. Every little helps, as they say.

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