Hawkwind: Live At Leeds, 3rd April 2001... ALMOST!!
I've just had a really bad day!!!!!!!
My car is off the road at the moment because I need 2 new tires (costing about £50), so I borrowed a friends car to take us to Leeds to see Hawkwind. Leeds is only 90 miles from us so even though the car was a 1980 model I still thought we'd make it easy. We set off at 6pm allowing 2 hours for the 90 mile journey and we were all impressed at how well the engine sounded for such an old car. 30 miles into the journey the car lost a bit of power and the engine was making a slight rattling sound (we considered turning back but we are stayers). 50 miles into the journey steam was coming out of the radiator, we found a service station and put some more water in. (the rattle was now louder) (we considered turning back but we are stayers). 55 miles into our journey we pass a garage which is open so we pull in and ask the mechanic what he thought the rattle was. He said he wasn't sure but "the damage appears to be done, so it shouldn't get any worse" (we considered turning back but we are stayers). 65 miles into our journey (the rattle is now more like a banging) the alternator warning light is flashing (we considered turning back but we are stayers). 70 miles into our journey the banging has now become so loud that I decide to pull over onto the "hard shoulder" of the motorway. As I dip my clutch pedal there's a loud bang and the engine stops completely (we would have considered turning back but the car was now fucked).
Luckily I had my mobile phone with me, but unfortunately the battery was very low, and as there is a fixed fee of over £100 (I think) to be towed off the motorway if the Police come and you aren't a member of a break down service, and especially as I have no insurance to drive my friends car we had to think fast... sorry, I had to think fast as the rest of the lads were by this time pissed and stoned and of little use as problem solvers. If I phoned a break down organisation and joined at the road side I would be liable for a surcharge of £50 + £45 to join and all they would do if they couldn't fix the car would be take me to the nearest town with a garage, which would still leave us 70 miles from home, but at least we'd be off the motorway. To get their number I had to call the operator (remember my battery is low). They started to read me the number and I realised none of us had a pen. So we remembered 3 digits each, nice and easy you'd think... oh no!! Not for one of the lads anyway. He couldn't remember his 3 digits. I re-rang the operator... this time we remembered the number and phoned the RAC breakdown services who informed us that they only accept credit cards, which none of us had.
So they suggest I call someone who has one and use their details. So I phoned my mother (my battery is now very low)... she wasn't in... I left a message for her to call my mobile when she got home and hoped it wouldn't be long. We waited 30 minutes and she hadn't called back. We knew if we didn't get moving soon the Police would come by and pull us (it was amazing and unusual that they hadn't already), so we decided to push the car to the next exit 1.5 miles away (very dangerous and very illegal). About half mile up the road my mother phones and tries to give me a 15 or so digit number when I have no pen (and my phone battery is very low) so I'm panting onto the inside of the wind screen and writing the number in the steam my breath leaves. Needless to say this didn't work as the windows of the car were all open from when we'd been pushing and my phone battery was about to give so we'd now have to push for the remaining mile off the motorway and find a public phone. Just then a van pulls over. It was dark by now and the headlights were in our face so we all presumed it was the Police, but luckily it was the RAC who were passing and decided to check on us. We told him our story and he let me use his phone to call my mother so I could join the RAC. He couldn't fix the car as apparently "The big ends gone"????? So he towed us to a town 15 miles north of Leeds (5 miles further away from home), and gave us the number of a supposedly cheap tow firm who eventually towed us home for £245, making the total cost of the journey (including the œ22 petrol I'd put in before we left) £352.
I never got to see Hawkwind. I have a broken car to give back to my friend and an awful lot more debt then when I set out, but it could have been worse. At least I'm home now, in one piece and I never got a fine for no insurance. Remember my car would have only cost £50 to put back on the road. How was your day :-)
A Hawkwind Fan