Sunday, July 31, 2011


"Here! Mum! Turn off here."
It was hailing. I couldn't see the street signs.
I braked to turn right. I was dawdling anyway but the car kept going sideways, sliding across the hail stones, heading for the kerb and someone's picket fence. It just kept going. I thought, she's gonna go over. There is nothing I can do.

I saw a similar thing in Dunedin one icy morn; cars full of commuters coming off the snowy mountains, heading for work in the city. I stood safely away and watched them slide into bonnets, bumpers, kerbs, windows and street signs. An ungainly brake-free balls-up: ice and gravity and some killer skates that looked suspiciously like vehicles with people inside them.

 It seemed to take an age to slide across the tar today. I was thinking, I've gotta get some tyres with better tread - I've gotta keep her off the kerb or she'll go over - I no longer have any say in this scenario - someone on Radio National is talking about the carbon tax - hold on but not too hard coz it hurts more if you are tensed up - I've gotta get this car out in a slimy paddock some time and learn how to deal with this kind of shit - please don't go over - please don't, car.

We stayed upright and squealed into a stilled, sweaty mess.
My heart was just ... bleating.
Pearlie said, "You alright Mum?" Bless her for the first sentiment she expressed. Too often I underestimate her.
"A glass of wine and a few moments in a quiet room, and I'll be fine, Pearlie," I said, when I'd settled down a bit.


  1. Planing - when the boat is going fast enough to drop its bow, lift its stern and level out on the water. Then, rather than ploughing through waves, it slides along the top.

  2. Your hitting all my sweet spots Sarah,
    First the bike story; then the fish and now 'planing'. I do a bit of sailing in an NS14 (14ft dingy) and occasionally we do a bit of planing. It's usually accompanied by a strong tail wind and scares the shit out of me. When you combine all those things you have the perfect storm.
    Lovely story that one (the bkie one). Your bike and mine might be twins. Pity you sold her. Judging by this story you do seem to have some issues with vehicles and kerbs and ditches.

  3. Yes, I do have unresolved issues with kerbs. Just ask my local town council. However, my most extreme kerbside encounters are lurking on A WineDark Sea, somewhere. Every day life is way too sedentry.

    Planing in a dinghy with an outboard is sweet, though.

  4. I'm glad you stayed upright, Sarah! I remember the old days of poor tyre technology when - if you hit an unexpected patch of water at high speed, you would 'aquaplane' in a car. It's such a horrible feeling eh?

  5. Not pleasant at all. No control. You lives ... crappy tyres ... feck.

  6. Sorry, 'Your lives' not you lives.

  7. Crikey! Yes it's amazing how time slows down at moments like these, slo mo...

  8. Oh the memories of spinning out of control on ice and ending up broadside on to a high hedge, still remain with me after 25 years!
    You have my sympathies :(

  9. Turns out my car's brakes are set for trade speccies (carrying a load) and that is why it went sideways in the first place. Something to do with the back end locking up first, combined with a wet road and shoddy tyres. Ouch.