Flukes of Physics



A call from my daughter to say she’s at a nearby friend’s and will soon make her way back home .. and by the way, she’ll have to take a small detour because there’s been a crash and a car’s on its side ..

Up till then I had wasted yet another day attempting to make Capture One and iView talk to each other, synchronising and updating files as I progress through editing and colour correcting, abandoning the text book and podcast method in favour of my own less than satisfactory recipe. But the ghoulish prospect of mayhem in a quiet residential street was too much to resist and I walked briskly to the avenue where, sure enough, a Honda Civic had knocked a Renault 10 feet backwards out of its disabled parking bay, rolling off its front bonnet and landing on its side facing the way it had come, its wiper landing smartly on the wrecked Renault’s front seat.

The police tell me they had been in hot pursuit with the Civic which had bombed down past our house, bolted across a blind junction and become airborne as it hit a particularly rampish speed hump. I know exactly where the flatter part of the hump is since my skinny Ridgeback bike tyres need every little help to negotiate the otherwise aggressive mound, so I drift towards the cushioned centre of the road.

This road-user however, the owner of an apparently brand new Honda, doesn’t know about the Highway Code, nor breaking distances; Stop or Give Way signs or in fact, controlling a car at any speed. He has no license, nor insurance. This road-user has decided it’s pretty much acceptable to floor his Japanese pedal and leg it from the Met in a quiet South London street at 3.15 – school’s out time. He doesn’t know how to get from his front door to Tescos without mowing down a working single mum hurrying home to pick up her child from nursery, a decorated war veteran pensioner who saw action in Anzio or a young Cellist who will one day be compared to Jacqueline du Pré. I’m basking in fiction here because none of these characters in my nightmare happened to be near the momentum of his somersaulting ton of steel. A close call nonetheless for those who approached to crunch on the shattered glass and smell the seeping oil. No-one was hurt except for the 20-something driver who was carted off to Kings for presumably an A+E nurse’s precious 30 minutes of attention. It might have been my daughter had she come straight home, it might even have been me had I not taken my own earlier detour to the bank (I often pass that way at exactly that time: 3.15) and it might have been anyone else making the best of their unsuspecting short life.

One in ten Irish drivers have not taken a test but can legally drive on provisionals for up to five years; Spanish test centres have been caught texting the theory test answers to candidates mobiles and last week, the Beeb reported that tens of thousands of British drivers may have paid scammers up to £500 a pop to take their tests for them – some having done so up to 200 times. As it was, all the damage was material: crumpled roofs, splintered windscreens and perhaps some weeks spent seeking redress in the small claims court. One of those flukes of physics and ballistics, like a shell fragment that passes through one soldier and not his friend close-by.

A few laws of nature hurtling in our direction, and we’re gone.


2 Responses to “Flukes of Physics”

  1. 1 Carpets and Bushy Tails « England’s Pleasant Pastures
  2. 2 updated « Richard Baker Photography

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