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Terry Prone: When my car conked on an icy road, I was stunned at the kindness of strangers

I DID everything the RSA and the AA told me to do. I got up extra early. The man in my life cleared the snow off my roof, lest it do a prolapse and cut off my vision.

I brought a big container of salt. I was the complete motoring Girl Scout: prepared on all fronts for all eventualities. And then, like a good Girl Scout, I drove slowly.

The M1 was clear. The Port Tunnel was dry and perfect, despite advance warnings about congestion.


Those warnings made sense once you cleared the tunnel and it became clear that its operators had not done anything about the snow and ice between the end of the tunnel and the toll barriers.

A few of us slithered around on that patch, but made it through the barriers. Coming down the hill towards an orange light, with an artic coming up on the road to the left, a skid started.

Against all my better instincts, I lamped on the brake and the car behaved as if it was traversing a corrugated iron roof. But it stayed in line and it stopped, quickly. Which made me and the truck driver with whom I was about to get intimately acquainted very happy.

No gritting along the quays, which seemed a bit odd. Not complaining, but the logic of making it easy to get into a city and then getting cars stuck IN the city escapes me. Still, me and my little car made it to the laneway leading to the parking place. I did my three-point turn.

Correction. I did the first bit of the three-point turn. At that point, the car went on strike. Not going nowhere, was that car.

Imagine this. One laneway between two major roads, with a car squarely in the middle of it, broadside on to oncoming traffic from either direction. Was I going to be popular? Not a chance.

Plus my car was now blocking the snow-covered Ford in the back garden of the house across the way.


A Polish man in a van tried to help. He pushed, but achieved nothing. Going back to his van, he reversed, started a three-point turn and -- you're way ahead of me. Same thing happened to him.

He was out putting rags under his wheels while I was putting salt and then cloth shopping bags under mine. His rags worked and he disappeared. My bags got chewed up and spat out by the wheels of my car.

The young woman who owns the Ford appeared. I grovelled. No problem, she reassured me, she was taking public transport the way she'd been advised to, so it was no problem. The young mother who lives in the next door house came out and told me if I needed to go to the loo or get a cup of tea, I was welcome to visit her at any point.

Then a taxi man arrived and gave out about my car. Automatics are the worst in the world for getting unstuck, he announced, before ordering me out of the driving seat.

He tried. He failed. Was he defeated? Not a bit of it.

He ordered a young male cyclist off his bike and the two of them pushed while I reversed. Suddenly I was free and neatly parked.

The taxi man smacked the bonnet and said it was no problem. The young cyclist made an appointment to come and sell me a service.

The kindness of strangers and a businessman's opportunism all rolled together.

What a great morning.