Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Being helpful

I had an unscheduled trip to Caenws today, north of Machynlleth.* There's a man up there who is a wizard with old cars, and he's been casting his special brand of magic over JulieD for most of the summer. I first took her to him when my bungled attempt at fitting a new clutch was not an unqualified success. Every so often he phones me up and says 'I've just found such and such...' and then persuades me he can fix it for very little money. It's amazing how quickly very little money can add up to quite a lot. But only when you're spending it, never when you're trying to save for, say, a new house.

For various reasons, JulieD's repairs have taken far longer than I originally anticipated, too. I won't bore you with the details, but since this summer has been, quite literally, a washout, I've not been too bothered about it. And the wizard mechanic, who is retired and just does this thing as a hobby 'for people he likes,' has been very good about having my sportscar blocking up his garage since June. But he's forked out a considerable sum on parts and now that November is approaching, he felt he had to ask me for some money to cover that cost.

He also wanted to show me the dreadful bodge job originally done on the chassis rails many years ago, and which this time around had failed JulieD her MOT. This is the last thing he's going to put right, and hopefully I'll have her back in a couple of weeks, just in time to put away for the winter. Ah well.

So, anyway, I headed over to Caenws, which can be a nice run if you don't get stuck behind little old ladies in Nissan Micras and last-minute holiday caravans that stop every time they think the road's too narrow. Which is a lot. I cast my eye over the work already done - pleasantly surprised at just how good a job it was (her wheels, the are shiny!); horrified at the mess that had previously been hidden by a heavy coat of underseal. Money was exchanged and then I headed home.

About a quarter mile from the mechanic's house, I slowed down for a man pushing his young son on a bike up the hill. Or so it seemed. No sooner had I begun to slow than he started gesticulating madly. Like a fool I wound down the window and asked him what was up. His son, it seemed, had been mountain-biking in the hills nearby and had come off quite spectacularly. Apparently one of his brake levers had stabbed him in the thigh, leaving a two inch puncture wound. An ambulance had been called, but it was waiting for them at the car park about a mile away.

I was about to say 'get in, I'll take you there,' but before I could even offer, the man had lifted his son off the bike - his leg was strapped up with his knee and elbow pads, and a stick to keep it straight - thrown the bike into the grass verge and climbed into my car, hauling his son in on top of him. 'You'll have to take us to the ambulance,' he said with more conviction than I was prepared to argue with. I guess parents get that way when their offspring are in peril.

Now in these situations, you hope that you will be the good Samaritan, and I was quite happy to give aid to these two. But I have to admit to feeling a slight sense of unease as I drove the slow mile to the car park. A puncture wound to the thigh is not nice, and it can be very messy. The leather upholstery in my car might be red, but somehow I don't think it would hide bloodstains very well. Explaining them to the police, should I be stopped later, might prove problematic, too. I might have to sell the car to raise a bit of money to do up the new house - if we get it - and the thought of cleaning gallons of haemoglobin off the carpet before putting an ad in the autotrader didn't fill me with thoughts of human kindness, either.

I kept my misgivings to myself, though. Altruism is supposed to be without complaint. And I wasn't the one with a potentially life-threatening injury. Fortunately for both the boy and me, the brake lever had missed his femoral artery, and his father's first aid had staunched what little bleeding there was. It's been dry here recently, so he wasn't even covered in mud.

There wasn't really time to get to know the two of them before we'd arrived at the car park and the waiting ambulance, but it struck me that the boy was very calm. Not in shock - he told me at one point that it hurt but he'd had worse pain from other injuries. His father, in contrast, was a complete wreck. The sort of person for whom the cliche 'bundle of nerves' was invented.

I left them with the paramedics and continued my way home without further incident. I'm sure the boy will be fine; I just hope someone gave his father a mug of hot, sweet tea before he fell over.

* memorably mispronounced as 'mackinelly' once.**
** but not as good as Bettws Bledrws which I've heard called 'Betty Bluedrawers' before.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

But at least the blood would have been in the front seat. It would have looked a lot more suspicious if you'd made him ride in the boot.

I keep mine lined with polythene sheeting. It's always a good idea to have a roll of duct-tape in there too.

Well, you never know, do you?

October 25, 2007 7:01 am  
Blogger Jess said...

You're right. Parents do 'get that way.' I remember taking my daughter to get a shot for school and the nurse saying she didn't know who was worse: me or my daughter. I hate shots. :(
Then there was the time she needed stitches in her knee. And the time she fell and rammed her front teeth up into her gums. And the time she . . .
Being a parent is rough business!
:-) But worth it.

October 26, 2007 6:10 am  
Blogger Trace said...

HAHAHAHAHA Stuart!! You nut!!

James, you're a nice man. I'm glad you were driving by that day.

October 27, 2007 2:31 pm  
Anonymous norby said...

And you were criticizing your people skills-if you were a true mean old hermit you would have found a way to keep driving on by.

For what's it worth, I would have worried about him staining my car seats too.

October 28, 2007 12:12 am  

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