March 22nd, 2007

International Kittens of Mystery

Fraud and Warp Coils: Part Three (Dilithium Crystals all over the Roundabout)

To recap: it's September 1995. We'd just survived eight months in France and then this happened. Someone stole my identity and grabbed our life savings. And in the midst of everything we have to get our car serviced - including something which sounded very much like a warp coil....

We had to go through with it. Being robbed was one thing but having a dodgy warp coil was something far, far worse.

John, my brother-in-law, came over just before half eight as arranged. I think he wanted to hear the latest instalment of the Crime of the Century. He'd follow us in and then drive us back.

Off we set with the car playing up as usual - I’m sure it knew it was going to the garage. Certainly its behaviour was reminiscent of Gypsy en route to the vet - plenty of complaining and digging in of tyres. About halfway there the engine cut out, just as I was pulling out at a junction. I quickly restarted the car - I was getting pretty quick with all the practice - and was just slipping into gear when.... Crash! A thumping noise and the car lurched forward.

The warp coil!


I looked at Shelagh and I could tell she was thinking the same thing - of all the times for the warp coil to blow, it had to be on the way to the garage! Why couldn't it wait another ten minutes?

I tentatively tried the engine again - ever the optimist - and was relieved to hear it start. Perhaps it wasn't irretrievable after all? We limped off the junction and found a patch of ground where we could park safely. John pulled in behind us.

I wearily pushed open the door and was in the process of struggling with the bonnet when I heard John apologising.


"Sorry, I thought you'd pulled out. I took my eye off the road for a while and..."

And ran into the back of us.

My first traffic accident. Years and years of safe driving behind me and then my brother-in-law smashes into the back of me while I'm stationary at a road junction.

But at least it wasn't the warp coil.

Which at that moment was a considerable plus.

We surveyed the slightly crumpled back bumper, the smashed tail lights and the boot which no longer fastened. Minor damage. Nothing compared with ringing up a garage and fighting to make yourself understood in halting French - please come and collect the car, the warp engine's blown and there's dilithium crystals all over the roundabout.

So, we resumed our journey. We toyed with idea of adding the damage to the list of things to be looked at by the garage but quickly dismissed the idea. They'd probably say it was too expensive. And John was confident he could knock everything back into shape himself.

We left the car at the garage and arranged to return at four.

(next instalment: A New and Unexpected Clue)