Sport Rugby

Wednesday 22 November 2017

On an eventful trip to Derry: 'I told the soldier that I was very sorry. Could they, please, not blow up my car?'

Derry was at the other end of the country and, as I had been lent a car for the day, I thought it'd be a nice chance to drive up to the northwest and see some of the country first hand, rather than from a rugby team's bus window.

I crossed the border with the usual questions and drove to the factory address where I was due to pick up the packaging.

Unfortunately, I arrived at lunchtime and, as everyone had gone for their break, I decided to do the same. I parked up the car and headed to the nearby pub for a bite.

Soon afterwards, I heard a commotion outside and could see a crowd beginning to gather. I finished my lunch and wandered out to see what was going on.

Bloody hell!

There were armoured cars and soldiers with guns all over the place and everybody was looking worried.

When I asked someone at the back of the crowd what was going on, they told me the army was sandbagging a suspicious vehicle.

The helpful onlooker explained that the next step would be sending in the robot to examine the car and then, most likely, a controlled explosion would be carried out on it.

Wow. This was like the Troubles I'd seen all those years previously on the old black-and-white TV.

"And how," I wondered aloud to the local, "does the army decide what constitutes a suspicious vehicle?"

"Oh, that's easy," came the answer, "the car has Dublin plates and is parked in the same spot everybody knows a previous bomb was left in."

Crap! It was my car. I bolted for the soldier in charge and, in my best Kiwi accent, explained they were sandbagging my car. It was a terrible mistake, I was very sorry.

Could they, please, not blow up my car?

The guy was furious.

Pointing to a nearby sign that warned parking was prohibited in that area of the city centre, he started yelling and threatening to take me in.

I just apologised and played the naive Kiwi tourist card. Eventually, they escorted me out of the city.

I never collected the goods for my friend but at least I avoided having to explain to him how I nearly got a brand new car blown up.

Irish Independent

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