Well, I’m back. I do

Well, I’m back. I do apologise for the low density of Gimboland content over the last few weeks, but it’s been a pretty hectic time (of which more below) and there were Things That Needed Doing before I could really think about this weblog again.

First and foremost: I crashed and wrecked my car just before Christmas, which has caused no small disruption. It was Wednesday 18th, the same day as my last post to the blog (spot the connection?). That evening, I’d been climbing and was on my way home, on dual carriageway heading north towards Merthyr Tydfill. It’s a long drive, so I was in a hurry and probably going too fast, and it was a bit icy too, though I hadn’t noticed at the time. Anyway, shortly after I overtook two other cars I came to a right-hand bend and as I went round it, I just lost control. I remember, just as I went into the bend, being momentarily distracted by the looming black bulk of a mountain to my left – perhaps that was another factor in what followed.

You know when you’re going round a bend a little too fast and you feel the back coming out and you’re like, whoa, whoa, and you keep it together and make it round OK? Well, it was like that except this time I didn’t keep it together. Details and order is sketchy, but I can tell you the following: I swerved all over the round, and I span round twice, anti-clockwise, I think. I think I swerved then span. I scrunched along the crash barrier on the central reservation, badly denting/scraping the car’s right hand side, and I took down a road sign of some sort, leaving a laaarge dent in the front of the car. I think I hit the barrier at the end of the second spin, and I think I hit the sign shortly thereafter. Best bit: during the second rotation, feeling quite calm now as the situation is clearly beyond my control, I looked out the window on my right, back down the road, to see two pairs of headlights coming towards me fairly rapidly – the cars I’d just overtaken. “That’s not good”, I thought. Fortunately I was far enough past them that they didn’t get involved.

Anyway, I came out of the spin and regained control, pointing in the right direction. I hit my hazard lights (ha ha ha), and to my amazement saw a lay-by just ahead. I pulled over, killed the engine, got out, and walked away. I was totally unhurt. It was, basically, an incredibly lucky escape. If the other cars had been closer, if I’d hit a tree instead of a sign, if I’d hit the central reservation differently, etc. etc. it could all have been very different. At the speed I was travelling I could easily have been badly injured, and fairly easily killed. The car took a lot of the impact, and I am now somewhat less enthusiastic about the idea of a motorcycle than once I was. My new year’s resolution is left as an exercise for the reader.

Fallout: one of the cars behind me stopped to check I was OK and had a way to get home. I phoned Julie & told her first that I was OK and then what had happened. I phoned the AA to get a lift home (with the car). I put some warm clothes on and gazed at the stars. A policeman arrived, took my details, breathalysed me (first time I’ve done that – clear of course) and then went off to sweep the road. Breakdown recovery arrived and “whisked” me home. Car is currently sat outside the house in mangled form, a fine display of personal ineptitude for all my new neighbours – hurrah. Mr Scrap is picking it up tomorrow, and when I get the pictures developed I will, of course, post them. :-)

Worst of all, I have to buy a new car, a process which I hate (‘cos I don’t know nuffink about cars, innit?). To be fair, the Astra was on its way out and we’d have been dealing with this anyway some time, I just hates it anyway.

Swansea were characteristically cool about things (it’s Christmas anyway so…). The day after the accident I got the train in, which was highly tedious and inefficient and took ages, but nobody cared. I grabbed some books and paper, told them I wouldn’t be in tomorrow, and went home. I’ll be back in on Monday, hopefully in a new car.

So that’s the big news. In other news, we had Christmas and New Year. Christmas was very nice but very full – we scooted to Cornwall to see my folks around from the 22nd to Christmas Eve, then scooted back up here, to Julies’ folks in Pembrokeshire for Christmas itself. They “do Christmas” the European way – presents on Christmas Eve, which is good fun but slightly weird for me. They also don’t give you any time at all for sitting around doing nothing and/or watching TV: it’s all eating, walking dogs, talking, or playing games. Very familial and really really good but bloody exhausting! :-) Oh yes, and we had them back to our place on Boxing Day for a monster beef joint – our first roast which went brilliantly: nice one Julie! :-)

The only downer on the Christmas period has been that Julie’s grandad (“Opapa”) has been in hospital. Even more annoying, it’s something that could have been sorted out before Christmas but for, as he puts it, “somebody dropped a clanger”. He’s handling it with his characteristic Polish blend of good and bad humour, love him.

New Year’s was pretty chilled out and very pleasant. With the notable exception of 1999-2000, I haven’t enjoyed New Year’s very much at all for the past few years. I always got maudlin and nearly always argued with Julie for stupid reasons. This year I was hoping for something different and gladly, that’s what I got. We stayed at home, and Rich and Em came to visit. The plan was to keep it fairly chilled, possibly checking out some of the local pubs (which we haven’t made it to yet). We were invited next door and spent an interesting hour or so there. This was the first time I’d seen the neighbours when they weren’t hung over: like us, they were pissed. It is as Emma predicted: everybody in this town knows each other. Rich’s hair seemed to cause a sensation. But all very nice, welcoming, friendly, and pleasant.

We didn’t make it to the pubs. Alas, Julie was ill with a cold (my turn had been in Cornwall), and Rich & Em have both had such a hectic couple of months (moving house and preparing their wedding in February), so everyone was happy to just sit around and chat. We had champagne at midnight and then over the next hour or so, one by one, they fell asleep – bless. I was left feeling very “up” and wondering what to do with myself, so I popped next door but the parents weren’t back yet and the teenagers still held sway. I decided not to invade.

Now, I know that doesn’t sound like a mad crazy wild New Year’s, and you’re right, it wasn’t, but it was highly enjoyable and just what the doctor ordered. As Emma said, it was nice to wake up on the 1st of January feeling relaxed and not too hung over, without panic or regrets, refreshed and ready for the year to come. Or as ready as we’ll ever be.

Right. I’m feeling caught up (with the exception of my thoughts on The Two Towers movie, which can come later – executive summary: they blew it) so I’m going to try to get this baby uploaded again now. Belated felicitations of the season upon you all, and all the best for 2003. :)