Thursday, June 04, 2009

Life getting in the way

The long and the short of it: Tom has shingles, which are horrible, now compounded by a chest infection. Then I crashed the car, properly this time, into the back of someone. Tea and sympathy are nice but not to the point. These lapses of attention are a worry, and I need to think very hard about how best to avoid them.

So we have been a sorry pair. But, as a friend who should know said, bad days are often followed by good, and luck may be on the turn. The car, battered old BX, is a write-off, but the insurance will give us 800 euros for it. The repairs were around the 2000 euro mark, a bit less with second hand parts, so we initially thought about repairing it anyway, if they'd let us, since we thought we probably couldn't replace it for the money. But then I had this vision, quite spontaneously. Of a little green Citroen Saxo.

I started looking at one or two secondhand car sites, not many Saxos round here, quite a few Renault Twingos, wasn't sure if I'd be able to persuade Tom to be seen dead in one of those, but they seemed a possibility, I think their total lack of cool means you can find them quite cheap. But one of the problems, which shouldn't be a problem but it is, is the right hand/left hand drive. I have never driven left hand drive. I should learn, I know, but frankly, with the knock to my confidence and Tom's worries, which are not sexist or patronising or unreasonable at all but based on experience and observation, about my driving lapses, now is not the time.

Then the idea occurred that some friends had found a RHD car through Anglo-Info, an expat's website. They hadn't been especially looking for RHD but had found a very good deal because of it. The 40 odd pages of small ads on the site were not in any particular order and without a search facility, so I had to scroll through sundry offers of tractor trailers, camper vans, motor bikes, battered old BXs to be broken up for spares, but at about ten o'clock last night on about the 19th page, I found a little green Saxo. Right-hand drive, French reg but English owned, about 12 years old, so not precious or bijou but still considerably younger than the BX, being passed on because a generous relative had donated another car, new tyres and a brand new Controle Technique (MOT equivalent, runs for two years), for about 1300 euros, at Loudeac, about ten miles from here. I e-mailed last night and heard back this morning that it is still available.

If the BX had died of natural causes, we wouldn't have cleared 800 euros on it. With the situation being as pressing as it is, and with other worries, and Tom really preoccupied with just getting well again, we won't spend a lot of time sentimentalising and grieving over the BX, which is only natural, as it's been with us for all our married life and we've had some wonderful times with it. I've ordered a book on safe defensive driving techniques and one on mindfulness in every day situations such as driving (though, as Tom said, one does have to remember to put them into action...). I even spoke to our doctor about the attention slips, fearing, since my father suffered from late onset petit mal epilepsy, that perhaps there was something going on. He listened and asked questions and took me seriously, advised vigilance and about warning signs, but said encephalograms were probably not yet called for.

I've not had much heart for blogging, things to be dealt with have just been worriesome, and at spare moments all I've wanted to do was curl up with a book, preferably one about the 12th century. My apologies about not being around are more for not visiting than not posting, but I hope the tide is turning now. I'm twiddling my thumbs now until it's a reasonable time to make phone calls, to a friend I hope will come with me to Loudeac to see the Saxo, to the seller, to our insurance agent, the lovely, gracious and ever-reassuring Simone who, by her virtues and proximity, ensures we probably pay a little over the odds for our insurance but its worth every penny to have her there, to say not to bother about finding out about fixing the BX, and to the garagist who will probably be relieved he no longer has to labour to keep that car on the road.

I'll let you know how I get on.


Julia said...

Lucy! I do hope the shingles are better soon. My stepmother has them now too and I know how uncomfortable they are.

So glad to hear that you found the car you were imagining. I'm looking forward to meeting it in August!

The Joined up Cook said...

Why are you apologising for not blogging so much?

None of us has an obligation to blog, even though, at times, we feel it at times.

The worst thing you could do would be to blog when you don't want to; it would destroy it.

You just take care of the important things in your life.

And blog it when the mood takes you.

Some positive thoughts are now winging their way to you.

Lesley said...

Really sorry to hear about the shingles - pass on my sympathy.

Perhaps if you got a left-hand drive that would actually help your lapses in concentration because you would be in an unfamiliar situation and therefore actually paying more attention to the very fact of driving. Just a thought.

Lucy said...

Thanks people.

Fortunately, the shingles are not on Tom's face, but on his sciatic nerve, which makes sitting and lying down difficult, but the ones round the face and eye sound truly evil.

As I say, my apologies are for not getting round other people's blogs, when everyone is so conscientious about coming here and saying nice things!

Lesley, yes, you do have a point. Being too relaxed in and familiar with the car, especially at certain times of day, is part of the problem; more demanding and unfamilar routes, for example, mean I'm more attentive. However, the other problem I have as a driver is the old one of spatial awareness - it really took me a long time to learn to drive just to get to grips with that, and also doing two things at once at all. Ask anyone who knows me and they will have observed my singular ineptitude at multi-tasking, as well as general absent-mindedness! So the problem of co-ordinating the controls which are the other way around and keeping to the right position on the road is a real one. I'm hoping that a new car, and frankly one that matters a bit more than the old shed of a BX, will mean that I'm more attentive and careful. That's certainly my intention. Also, avoiding or mitigating the dangerous moments and listening to the warnings - I knew how tired I was, it was the wrong time of day and month, it was the fourth time I'd been on that stretch of very familiar and quite fast road that day. I should at least have gone and got a cup of coffee before starting out... Anyway, no one was hurt, and everyone behaved admirably.

Things could always be worse.

Fire Bird said...

Oh poor both... Please please be careful with yourself in your jolly little new car... And give Tom my love.

Rouchswalwe said...

Yowzza! As folks in my family say, try to keep your ears stiff! Sciatica I know, but shingles on top of that ... ick. All best to Tom! I'm already looking forward to seeing photos of the green dream car.

Zhoen said...

My most healing thoughts for Tom. And a soft cushion or three.

Attentiveness training, and a checklist. "Keys, watch, wallet, glasses". That sort of thing. It helps.

Bee said...

Well, that is a lot of things to worry about, really. I'm not surprised that you feel like curling up with a comfort book!

This morning, my daughter asked if it was easy or difficult to learn how to drive a car. A bit of both, I said. I would guess that you are composing poetry or musing about something when your attention wanders off.

I hope that Tom is well, soon -- and that a new car comes around to you.

Michelle said...

I'm sending love from the Southern hemisphere.

jzr said...

So sorry to hear of your troubles. Shingles are very nasty and so are car crashes. Fortunately, your both still here and things WILL get better. Nothing ever stays the same!!

Sheila said...

Oh, my love and concern go out to both of you.

You're certainly not missing much on my blog these day, as my own life has pretty well kept me away from it for a month. Wish we could sit and have tea together!

I tend to be a good driver, but also have the absent-minded issue. When I was 22 I had the mixed blessing of totaling my dad's first-ever new car, bruising my ribs and going unconscious in the process.....driving after only two hours of sleep.

The blessings were further evidence of how much my dad loved me (he never said anything about the car, only showed concern for me), and I learned how important it is for me to pay attention and to not drive when too tired.

I hope you get the car! (And my dad's insurance paid for one for him that was even nicer.)

Lots of love to you.

Catalyst said...

Sorry for Tom. The BRD has had bouts with shingles though it's been awhile now, I think.

And yes we'd all like to see a photo of a smiling Lucy at the wheel of her new car. (Crash helmet in place?????)

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

The new car's in the drive, I'll post about it very soon.

TG - yes, I will. I so enjoyed driving it tonight, and felt very alert and focused, even though I was quite tired by the end of the evening.

R - thanks, stiff ears?!

Z - Tom thanks you from the heart of his bottom! I'll look into attentivenenss training... the checklist kind of thing I was trying to think of a similar formula to remind myself what I needed to keep in mind each time I get into the car to drive. I'm kind of drawing up other strategies to help myself too.

Bee - it is a remarkably difficult thing which we tend to get to the point of doing unthinkingly, and there's the danger for some of us, I suppose. When I first drove, I did stupid things not because of lack of awareness but through panicking and getting in a state, scraping cars while parking, stuff like that. I really don't think I'm doing anything like making up poems, or thinking of much at all when it happens, I certainly don't remember anything, I just go blank. I think the state of creative observing or piecing words and ideas together is one of fairly heightened awareness in fact, but I don't really try to do that while driving; I seldom stop the car to take photos, for instance. Occasionally I catch myself distracted by an image on a billboard or something, but I do catch myself.

Michelle - how lovely,and I'm sure the curvature of the earth will only enhance its effects!

JZR - indeed it does not! I'm amazed really at the turns of events in less than a week...

Sheila - that was wonderful, thank you.

Cat - ;~). Glad to hear the BRD's shingles have subsided, that is hopeful...

Dick said...

All good wishes across La Manche and around the corner for lighter days for Tom and you. Blog when ready. Sometimes the book about the 12th century should be the priority.

apprentice said...

Aw Lucy, so sorry to learn of all this. I hope tom is healing, it is a horrible condition. And you must have been really shaken up too.
I hope June will be kinder all round


herhimnbryn said...

Tom, rest heal. Rest heal.

Lucy, when my Pa taught me to drive he encouraged me to do some commentary driving. it really does make you more aware, observant and present. Try it, it might help. You may feel a prat 'talking to yourself' as you drive, but those driving lessons have stayed with me.

vicki johnson said...

Oh dear!! So sorry for this spate of bad luck.
Glad you have the car sorted...and hope that Tom heals quickly. Shingles can be just horrible.

HLiza said...

Oh my you're one busy lady I can see. Hope Tom will feel better..and I really have to look for this Saxo now..just to get a clear picture as Citroen or Renault cars are too expensive here..hardly see them on the road. We are in the look for a bigger car too but may not get one too's not that easy now. Hugs!

Rosie said...

darling sorry to hear of your woes...hope they are soon resolved