It has been an interesting week for my normally quite tedious daily commute from Peterborough to Spalding!
On Wednesday 15th October 2014, promptly at 4.30 p.m. I left my telephone headset, computer, desk and office in my usual sedate fashion. That is to say, there was a great “whooshing” of displaced air and an Alfie-shaped hole in the intervening walls and doors separating me from the car park and freedom!
Five minutes later, however, I was back in the office again trying to dragoon the other slightly slower 4.30 leavers into giving me a push to get my car started!
You see, I had turned the ignition key of my lovely little Chevrolet Aveo and instead of the whirr of the starter motor and the catching of the engine I got ……NOTHING! Well, actually, there was the faintest little buzz and all of the dashboard needles gave an almost imperceptible quiver but, quite obviously, the battery had nothing to give.
And then I realised why. It was because of an innovation that I first noticed on my 2004 model Nissan Micra and seems to be standard now on vehicles that are not quite sophisticated enough to have a sensor to turn the headlights on or off depending on the level of available light.
On MY standard of vehicle you don’t have to remember to turn off the main lights – just remove the key, open the driver’s door and off they go. That’s fine BUT………
I tend to sit in my car at lunchtime (if you stay at your desk people assume you’re working and keep asking you stuff), reading my Kindle or writing things like this while I eat my lunch, and while I do that I also listen to the radio, turn the fan on to stop the windows from steaming up and, occasionally, charge my mobile phone – all things that use the battery. During the summer there have been no problems with that level of power drain but I had failed to consider that, with darker mornings, my headlights had been on when I drove in and I hadn’t switched them off when I arrived.
So, when I turned the ignition key to get the radio and the fan working I also, all unnoticed, turned the headlights on – for a whole hour! No wonder the battery was flat!
Fortunately, a good shove from three of the lads from the office (thanks again Phil, Lewis and Tom) got me started for the run home which has, thankfully, restored the battery to its former state.
Earlier in the week, well before my little personal energy crisis, we had some rain! Nothing unusual about that you may say – this IS England after all – but there hasn’t actually been much more than the occasional small shower for quite some time in these parts! It made up for it on Tuesday, however, and I was starting to get a little nervous when driving home through torrential downpours on Tuesday evening.
Why so? Well I have a satellite navigation device sitting on the ledge above the “instrument panel” of my car (another thing that uses the car’s electrical system, I should mention). I only bought it last February and I’m still noticing some of its more obscure functions. One of these (and it is only visible if you are not following a set route – which I’m not when going to or from work) is what in an aeroplane would be called an altimeter! It displays the height of the device above sea level. Knocking off an additional 3 feet for the height from the road to its perch, most of my journey along the A16 is conducted at anything up (or down!) to 15 feet BELOW sea level.
That always worries me very slightly, especially when a downpour of Noah’s Flood proportions is happening around me but that isn’t what concerned me on Tuesday evening.
Remembering those weather conditions, the fact that the nearest body of seawater is at least 25 miles away in the opposite direction to my travel and the above mentioned geographical details, can you understand why I was getting nervous when I noticed that the bright orange car behind me, with a police-style warning light panel on its roof had the words HM COASTGUARD written across the bonnet!
And then, jumping back further still to the end of the previous week, I noticed that one of the side roads off the A16 – one that does not impinge on my route in any way – was closed with an “Accident” sign and a police car blocking the way. I didn’t think much of it but when the road was still closed on Monday with a more substantial barrier and a large Land Rover manned by armed soldiers in attendance I decided to look it up online.
It turns out that some member of the United States Air Force tried to emulate the “flat spin and flame out” scene from “Top Gun”, failed miserably and ejected leaving the ‘plane to cause considerable damage to a soggy potato field less than half a mile from a village school. It was never going to work because Tom Cruise’s “Maverick” flew a US Navy F14 Tomcat while this was a USAF F15 Eagle – totally different!
No-one was hurt except for minor injuries to the pilot (presumably as a result of being walloped up the arse by a rocket propelled chair) and an unstated number of potatoes – which count as an intelligent life form in the Fens!
Reading eyewitness statements from the Lincolnshire Echo was quite hilarious and I commend them to you. You can find them at http://www.lincolnshireecho.co.uk/BREAKING-Military-aircraft-crashes-Lincolnshire/story-23063367-detail/story.html
That’s local news reporting for you but I can’t let the Nationals get away scot free! The Daily Telegraph report is also quite amusing – you can find that here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/11149362/Military-jet-crashes-in-Lincolnshire-field.html
I particularly want to know more about what the 999 operator was thinking when the caller, who reported (quite concisely, I thought) that an American military jet had just crashed and he was watching the pilot descending on a parachute, was asked by her “Is it Male or Female?”
All things considered I thought his reported reply of “I don’t bloody know” was quite restrained!
Of course, the real tragedy would have been if the damned thing had come to ground about 3 miles to the north-west of “Weston Hills” – it could have hit the IT Department of Bakkavor Ltd. at Spalding and taken out a promising blog writer!
Please may I go back to ordinary, boring trips to work next week?