18 Dec 1999 – 20:11.22
Well. I don’t quite know where to begin. I’ve had a bad week; for a week which start with such promise I feel that this is a rather sad way to end….
On Friday the 17th of December 1999 a piece of Yugoslavian Technology met it’s end. Himself right to the end Hugo saved my life before he expired.
Near me is a little mostly single track lane known as “The Chute”. It is a road known for a high number of accidents – and indeed quite a few fatalities. This is because the road is, well, twisty – with high banks on both sides. It also crests a hill with an approx 180 hairpin!
Anyway – despite being classed as “national speed limit” (60mph for any americans) I tend to cover it at about 30mph, or 40mph on the straight bit. On friday – a day with light drizzle falling I hopped into Hugo – incidentally dressed as myself (although not noticably so) – and trundled off to work. Pausing briefly to stick on a Corrs tape – and the lights.
About ¾ of the way up the Chute I noticed a red fiesta approaching. Well outside reasonable braking distance….. so I put on the brakes to slow the car. Now I don’t know why – my guess is that the disks were damp and so the brakes were a lot more effective than normal – the wheels locked. Instantly. Now – I probably wasn’t as alert as I should have been – it being early morning – but the fact I was skidding _definately_ registered. My brain had got as far as sending the message pump the brakes but it was too late – I’d hit the bank.
The left hand side of the car rose up about a foot – you can see this from the bank. I suspect I’d attempted to correct the slide by turning the wheels right – as I was sliding left. So the car was already turning right when it hit the left bank. After that I just remember the lanscape going from the normal view we all expect and love – to rapidly being upside-down.
Now I could hear the engine running and my brain quickly went through:
1 Turn off ignition
2 Put hand on “roof”
3 Undo seat belt
5 Get out the damn car.
At this point – as a testament to the Yugo – the windscreen was still intact – and although a little stiff the drivers door opened fairly easily – although I did kick it….
Having got out – and surveyed the damage it looked like Hugo might have survived….
However with a great deal of work from some fellow villagers the car was turned back over and it became apparent that the roof had stretched.
Not only that – but most of the oil had been lost.
It’s a great testament to Yugos – I’m alive because that car was so damn strong. I feel like an idiot – that road shaves about 2 minutes off my journey – and no I won’t be using it much any more.
Ironically – the other driver, the police and most locals agree that I was doing a reasonable speed and was unlucky….. Perhaps it’s not such a reasonable speed. It’s cost me around £700 – and I now ache all over. I also am sad at the loss of an excellent car. But as Hannah reminds me – at least I’m okay. Many people don’t get that much. I also think Hannah deserves a lot of something…..she put up with me bawling down the phone – after an entire day of trying to hold myself together I just let it out when speaking to Hannah…. I don’t know why she puts up with it….I should have been glad to be alive – but, hell, I liked that car….
I’ve just bought the only car I could afford – the insurance is through the roof – and indeed probably through the atmosphere – and out of this galaxy…. It’s a MK 1 Volkswagen Golf 1500 GL, in metallic red….which leaks.
Having got it home I thought – hmmm that looks a bit damp….oh well it’s been raining – and someone probably got in with wet feet….
Having washed the car I now know it leaks. Quite a lot. Ah well, what do you expect for £95? Apart from that the screen washer stopped working on my way home – I think the pipe’s become disconnected and it’s done over 110000 miles. But it looks okay – quite nice in fact – it runs well and seems to be built well….So perhaps it’s a worthy successor to a much loved car….
If anyone wants to save Hugo he’s in LA Breakers in Headly (Thatcham)/Newbury….. Reg G837WGM….. The engine’s top – the interiors pretty good….and I’ve got lots of the documentation….including owners manual, service history, etc, etc…..