LT loses his clutch

The journey to Reading was eventful, in the wrong way. In short, Tim’s car broke down on the motorway. Luckily it wasn’t the misnamed “smart” motorway with no hard shoulder and he was able to pull over safely. But it took a long time for a low-loader to arrive and take us on to Reading. We were just approaching the A1(M)/M25 junction at South Mimms services – 100 yards short of the slip road, in fact, when Tim said he couldn’t get the car in gear. He’s fairly sure that it’s the clutch that’s gone west.

Anyway, we duly got out and climbed over the barrier but Tim soon realised he had to get back in the car as the traffic noise was such that he couldn’t talk to the breakdown people when outside. So he stayed in the passenger seat and I hauled the coolbox out of the boot and made sandwiches. Luckily, we’d brought plenty of provisions and I asked him if he’d like a bottle of beer? “Well, it’s not as if I’m driving anywhere. What sort of cap does it have, though?” I was already ahead of him there and produced a corkscrew/bottle opener from my handbag. So we sat, eating Norfolk salami sandwiches on homemade bread and drinking bottles of Adnams. It was two and a half hours before Gary appeared, a really nice and very capable guy, who loaded the car up and drove us home. He deposited the car with impressive skill in the convenient parking space outside Tim’s back gate.

I’d started to regret the bottle of water and half litre of beer an hour earlier. I’d had a mug of tea and a cup of coffee before we left Yagnub and it was all rather telling on me. Tim couldn’t get at the house key until the car was at ground level. So I used his front garden, tucking myself nicely between a thick hedge and the garden wall.

Tim luckily had his driving licence with him, so has rented a car and we duly appointed a gardener and he made a few phone calls about his car. It’s old, he’s had it from new and it’s the best car he’s ever had. He’s been considering a replacement for a while – you know you’re on borrowed time after a decade or so, before something goes badly awry – but he never had a pressing reason for a change. Now, he has to decide whether to get the repair done, which will cost nearly as much as the car is worth, and reckon on scrapping it eventually, or whether to bite the bullet and scrap it now.

For my part, though I haven’t felt ill, I’ve had a headache and tinnitus ever since my second vaccination. Not badly but for most of the time, though hanging around on the motorway surely didn’t help. So it’s not been a great week, all told. However, no actual harm done and we’re back in Norfolk now.

3 comments on “LT loses his clutch

  1. Blue Witch

    Sorry to hear about the breakdown and the time it took for the recovery to get to you. I hope you are going to complain, sat for that long on the side of a motorway! Good luck with the deliberations about a new car.

    Really bad timing – too soon for a sensible electric car deal and too late to get a fossil fuel car that will keep any semblance of value in the future.

    We’ve been considering this question too, just in case anything happens. A friend who keeps up with cars (reads all the car magazines) says that in this sort of situation, one should go for the repairs now as there will be lots of EV deals/subsidies in the not-too-distant future, and the price of petrol/diesel is going to go up (more tax) as an incentive to push people to EVs once the subsidies and deals do come out.

    In case you don’t know… irrespective of whether you expect to be driving anywhere, if you are out and near a vehicle, with the keys, you can still be done for drinking and driving, even if your vehicle is broken down. Similarly, people in motorhomes, stopped overnight on public land (eg in laybys or car parks), can be done for DnD in the evenings/nights if they have had drinks with their meals, even if they don’t indend to go anywhere until the next day. I know someone whose son got disqualified for 12 months and a £2,500 fine in just this situation. Not sure you’d be over the limit on one bottle of beer mind, but it’s a useful thing to know!

    Only you could have a bottle opener and corkscrew in your handbag 😉

  2. 63mago

    I am very glad to hear that you both came out of this unharmed. I think this oh-so-smart motorways are deathtraps. I had to use a part of the autobahn lately where (depending on traffic) the hard shoulder can be used by trucks – what a feeling when a sixty ton vehicle barrls by and overtakes on the wrong side ! If one’s car brakes down a major incident is un-avoidable – one could not even exit the car unharmed !
    It is clearly against the first rule in the planning book – minimise risks, do not create them.

    A new car ? A new toy is always fun …

    1. Z Post author

      They’re dreadful and there will be a serious accident one day. No excuse or reason for them, they are just plainly dangerous. It was an uneventful breakdown and, if there had been any likelihood of getting the car going again, we wouldn’t have had such a long wait. I don’t think Tim would have been over the limit but I’m not sure how it could have been argued that the car was drivable. Tim is thinking of getting a sensible second-hand car, if it isn’t feasible to get his repaired, but we’re not going to think about it for a few days. We will have a clearer view with a bit of distance. If he does change his car, it’ll make sense to think about the two cars we need between us.


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