Saturday, 28 December 2013


I drive an old car. It's a retro golf gti. But that is sort of irrelevant to the story. The bad thing about old cars is that they are liable to breakdown. 

Driving to pick up my sister and her kids from kings cross station passing St Pancras it stalled and didn't have any power left. I was stuck in the middle lane of three lanes of solid traffic. Hazards on. Unsure how to proceed. A cab stopped and asked what was wrong and suggested I get to the side of the road and call my breakdown cover. A man on the pavement came over and pushed me into the drive of the St Pancras Hotel. We stopped when he couldn't shove it uphill on his own anymore. Relieved and very grateful. 

The doorman from the hotel sidled down and asked what was wrong. I broke down and it has no power. Well you can't stay here it's private property. I'm only going to be here while I call the breakdown company. His colleague came. Have you got a permit? No. Well these spaces are paid for by the residents of the building. I'm broken down, I don't want to park here. Well you can't leave it here. What do you suggest I do then? We will help you to push it back onto the street. 

I look at the Euston Road, there are three solid lanes, a bus lane, double red lines. It's a ridiculous suggestion. I laugh at him. I can't wait here for the breakdown company? No madam. You don't have a permit. There are two wedding buses coming shortly and they need to get past. I cast my eye over the 30 empty parking spaces. 

At which point my sister came round the corner from Kings Cross with her children. Overhearing this she started on him - you cannot push this car onto that road - it's dangerous. Look at how many spaces you have, it not like we are going to be here for ages. She called the local police. He told her they have no jurisdiction here it's private property. 

Two staff from the wedding venue came down. One very reasonably said - we are going to push the car out of the way - up to there. While you wait for the breakdown company. Thank you. The four of them pushed the car up the hill and backed it up in front of a lovely clean Mercedes. Individually they each asked how long we were going to be. I will let you know, I said. 

They all went back to their jobs. The buses arrived and decanted guests into the reception. We waited. And finally an hour later I tried the car again and it started. We crossed our fingers and went on our way after cancelling the breakdown people. 


la peregrina said...

I get very annoyed with "stay between the lines" people. It's usually little people with little power who will not bend an inch. Glad you found at least four people who were willing to bend the rules when faced with an unusual situation.

Harriet (the fshlady) said...

I was astounded. And was actually jus laughing in shock until my sister turned up. It's just not sensible way of being sometimes. We should try to help people in distress. It's humane.

Ed Walker said...

ah...the "joys" of a old car and London. mine is a ol' VW too ...perhaps not as old as yours (at 19yrs) it failed once near Marble Arch! went thru BIG puddle and conked-out! :( still ...managed to coast it to a parking space and after twenty mins started again! :)

Harriet (the fshlady) said...

Lol! Its a nightmare! I grew up not knowing these joys... Im a crap mechanic. So i have to rely on damsel-in-distress to get help. (Not very feminist if me im ashamed to say).