19th Kerbside Breakdown

(1995)

In the fastest of lanes, as the rain belts down

As you speed through the spray, on to the next town,

Think of those who on hard shoulder surround

The stationary shape of the worst car to be found.

The children are crying, the wife’s in a rage

She told him, you see, “Don’t buy cars of that age.”

He said “Don’t worry, of cars I’m a bit of a sage.”

She answered not back – at least not at that stage.

This wasn’t the first time that their car had spluttered

And the adults in unison expletives had uttered.

The children had resignedly, quietly, muttered

How they’d rather be home, with toast hot and buttered.

As they waited for help to appear on the road,

Their talk became darker, of the money they owed.

Of the effects of no heating the last time it snowed.

And the cost of getting home by being towed.

There’s nothing quite so frustrating, you see,

As being the only ones stuck with no speed.

As all others whizz by, paying no heed

To those much less fortunate, cold and fatigued.

At length, the frustration flows over to hate

And gets worse with each moment, the longer the wait.

The man on the shoulder’s cold, hungry and late

And run out of stories to the kids to relate.

A hopeful sign now, a police car appears.

Two officers young, though, and wet behind ears.

They radio for help, but then – worst of all fears

Spot bald tyres and no tail light – banned for two years!

When finally tow truck with driver and mate comes

They cheerily work amid jokes, tuneless hums.

One can quite see why they’re such good chums

When the work’s done and it’s time for the sums.

“Lucky for you mate” they say with a laugh

“We don’t need to tow you, the bill’s cut in half.”

Nonetheless, it’s a pain in the wallet of calf

And another addition to the bank overdraft.

As the car’s engine sparks into life anew

The rain stops, sun shines, returns the view.

The talk’s now of home, warm baths and hot stew –

But twenty miles on, it’s the end of a queue.

This time, however, the engine’s a friend

It doesn’t break down, doesn’t need a mend.

The family all hopes it’s the start of a trend

And that kerbside nightmares are now at an end.

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