Safety First, Old-Style

I was telling you earlier that the Road Safety slogan in days of yore was Friends Don’t Tell Friends They Can’t Drive Because They’re Drunk Because Then Friends Will SHOW Friends How They Actually Drive Very Well When They’re Drunk, Thank You Very Much and this was proven half true one night when I told Tabs he was too drunk to drive and the best thing to do was to let ME drive.

It was all Bess Reitz’s fault. She was buggering off to America and insisted we drink beer in her garage opposite the Town Hall. We were all sad to see her go so we had drunk more than usual. It was OK though, the cops wouldn’t catch as us we had a lookout in the tree on the pavement outside the garage in the form of John. Where a normal person would climb up a tree till the branches started thinning, John climbed up into the twigs till his head popped out from the very top and kept a lookout 360° shouting “Where are the coppers!?” and “All’s clear!”

Now it was true I had been with Tabs all night drinking and he could have said the same of me, but it was me talking. And anyway Pierre agreed with me and said he’d fetch me from Gailian after I’d delivered Tabbo safely home.

Tabs was perfectly rational and amenable to my eminently sensible suggestion. “Tell you what”, he said, “I’ll drive to the top of forty two second hill and then you can drive”. I was perfectly rational and amenable to that suggestion and we set off down Warden Street. At 190mph.

Tabbo had a green two-door Datsun SSS 1800 (Geoff Leslie called it his “Triple Ess Ess Ess”) and that thing fucked off went fast. We touched the tar twice on the way down Warden street and flew up 42nd Hill at a hell of a rate of knots. I was highly relieved when Tabs pulled over as promised and I proceeded forth at a more sedate pace.

Soon after, I turned sedately into Gailian and the road took a sharp left and I didn’t. Changing down into second I let out the clutch but I hadn’t taken my foot off the gas, so we leapt forward into the only deep ditch in the veld for miles around. Tabbo bit a huge chunk out of the dashboard. I was OK as the steering wheel stopped me. Seatbelts hadn’t been invented yet. Or more accurately, the wearing of seatbelts hadn’t been invented yet *.

As it turned out, speed hadn’t been the problem after all – it was the sudden stop that dented Tabbo.

Fortunately for us, Pierre was right behind us and took us to hospital where the local vet stitched up Tabbo’s lip and he ended up looking quite handsome after that. As the doc said Vasbyt Tebs, he said “Hit it Doc!” but gripped my hand tightly as he said it. Valour in the face of adversity it was.

The sudden stop and the hospital afterwards were NOTHING. We now had to face the hard part: Telling Stella. They were in bed in the dark, we couldn’t see them, we could just hear Stella.

She asked if we were OK. Hector was silent.

* I looked it up: The first U.S. patent for automobile seat 
belts was issued to Edward J. Claghorn of New York in 1885.

Author: bewilderbeast

It's about life, marriage, raising kids, paddling rivers, travel in Africa . . . re-posting thoughts written over decades - at random, I'm afraid.

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