WEEKEND WEB: That crashing festive feeling

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

It was December 1, 1990, Saturday teatime and not a creature stirred. I had loaded up the car with the PA stuff as we were attending a Christmas ‘Sing-a-Long’ event with the local town Mayor and other folk ‘in the loop’ as they say.

I then picked up the local carnival queen, her mum the chaperone plus carnival chairman and the plan was to go into town to the outlined event like we had done many a Christmas before – what could possibly go wrong?

Fate or stupidity took a hand as we were coming up to a junction to leave the estate, having picked everybody up from there, as we were suddenly lurched about 20 or so yards up the road as we were hit by another vehicle in the back end.

The noise or the bang was something else as within moments people were rushing out to see what was going on but a quick check and we were all intact but shaken up.

We staggered out and saw that the car that had caused this mayhem was still in the middle of the road with steam coming from under the bonnet and oil shimmering in the street lighting as it poured slowly out from the engine section of the car onto the road.

My car was possibly a write-off (it was) but I looked across at the offending other car. I could see somebody still in it but even as I was about 10 yards away at the time I could smell the stench of the booze before I got to it and as I got there the occupant was rubbing his eyes and blubbering away: ‘xxxx - I have just hit Santa..’

I was dressed in my Santa suit, whiskers, the full works and I replied that it could be role reversal time as ‘Santa’ could be hitting him in the very foreseeable few moments, never mind asking what he wanted for Christmas as it might not be what he was expecting.

By this time people were coming up to us but as the doors of the car were jammed shut with the impact, we struggled to pull the doors open to get ‘Booze Almighty’ out and away from the car ‘just in case’ plus the car was immovable as the steering was gone and still in the middle of the road.

We eventually dragged the driver to the side of the road then he laid/fell down on the kerbside with his eyes focused on us as he said, quote: ‘Can’t stop long as I am going to pick my mum up’ (!) .

Caring or what?

I somewhat deflated this whim as I pointed out by now people were forming an orderly queue to thrash the living daylights out of him as the crowd worked out who we were plus our agenda for that evening.

A police car arrived and on also noting the stench of the booze coming from laughing boy, got the breathalyzer out but he was so far gone he could not physically blow it up.

He was then placed in the police car and taken away for further attempts to get a sample out of him or to find out how much blood he had in his alcohol but as he was being put in, he was going on about his car and the fact his ‘mum always wanted the car outside their house so she knew it was safe’ and we all shed a tear – as you do – at such loyalty to mummy.

As he had reduced my estate car into a saloon model with the damage he caused or put another way, he wrote my car off as the back was now gone and I was far from amused

We then went to look at his car still in the road but by now ‘coned off’ as another constable had now arrived and we both noted the offending car had no lights switched on so perhaps did not even see us as it was dark and only random street lights on.

Then came light relief of sorts. So there we are: two decimated vehicles, steam, oil plus bits of bodywork strewn over the area as in total carnage plus I am dressed as Santa with the carnival crew.

The next thing I know is a lady in the crowd comes straight towards me with her son/apprentice cherub being dragged behind her as she then said to him: ‘Look! – its Santa! – now you tell him what you want him to bring you for Christmas day…go on now!..’

If ever there was a time for TV’s ’Allo , ’Allo character René to utter forth, it was then: ‘you stupid woman! – can you not see Santa has had enough to contend with, his sleigh has been blown up but Rudolf the Red Nosed drunk is away assisting those nice policemen with their inquiries’

As I have often said: Lord – why me all the time?

The recovery trucks came as we basically went off to A & E for a check over ‘just in case’ but apart from slight whiplash, nothing serious thankfully.

On the Monday I popped into the police station to show my vehicle, insurance documents etc, fill in a statement plus ask about ‘Booze Almighty’ as it seems he gave a blood sample (eventually) that was three times over the prescribed limit (and this was only just gone 5pm at the time!) but further joy as to come as it was pointed out that, quote: “You are the first Christmas drink driving victims in the county, sir.” My whelm was overed or thereabouts at hearing that nugget.

However Booze Almighty had so far not provided any driving or vehicle documents although he had a few more days to do so by law but he provided them within hours to spare of the allotted time but he had only insured his car on the Friday prior to the accident – phew.

He went to court, fined £300, banned from driving for 18 months but even though he was caught ‘bang to rights’ plus he pleaded guilty his insurers would not accept any liability for the accident!

The next few months – yes, months – meant we went for assorted medical examinations on behalf of his insurers – I still have a copy of my medical report that takes up 27 pages to basically say I am still alive and kicking – but they finally agreed to settle the claim after assorted writs were issued.

The cheque arrived in the November, 11 months after the accident and this was one of the ‘big boys’ in the insurance game who advertise to this day as being ‘professional and caring’.

Its worth pointing out that in his statement, Booze explained he had been drinking at lunch time and throughout the afternoon before setting out to pick mummykins up, take her five miles away to her friends for bingo at their local club, then going back to have a ‘night out with lads’ in their pubs of choice.

Had we not ‘got in the way’ one can only wonder what state he would have been in, internal organs and other bits.

So may I suggest if you are going out to celebrate, do it in a sensible manner or Santa might not be too happy and take action as he sees fit

Mind how you go.