The last blat of the year, and I was ready for it even if the weather wasn’t. I had my foul weather kit on, I’d checked the fluid levels and topped up the oil. I donned waterproof gloves, furry "keep my ears warm" hat, wiped the aeroscreen clear and started up.
Putting on my harness caused the rain god to laugh and then cry very heavily over the village and on me specifically. Muttering "If you can't take a joke, you shouldn't have joined" I set off in the rain and under the disapproving eye of my daughter. Quote "You're not invincible, you know" - as if I didn't.
It wasn't too bad until approaching Whiddon Down when a combination of a passing truck and a simultaneous switch into storm mode "Hail" saw me loose my hat and a good deal of my remaining goodwill to all men. I stopped at Whiddon Down bus stop to unpack and don my helmet. The hail promptly filled the car and covered me in ice. I may have given the driver and the passengers in the bus that stopped opposite me something to talk about that evening, but somehow that was no consolation.
I pressed on, conscious that the road and weather conditions were playing merry harry with my route timings, as indeed the melting hail soaking into my clothing did to my sense of comfort and well-being. I have a native son's love of the red soil of Devon - but not when it is mixed copiously with water and spread in random puddles and minor floods on Devon's narrow high hedged lanes. Splashing the sides and wings of the Seven, yes: covering my right arm and body, check, but pink water running down my visor? This is not what I understand about seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses!
As I approached our meeting place I began - fool that I am - to cheer up at the thought I had nearly made it, and would soon join others with the same kind of approach to "enjoyment", and a chance to escape the storm showers for a while. First, Hubris, then Nemesis follows. It caught up with me at a junction.
The Seven just stopped. Zero, nil, zilch, nowt, null, nothing. The engine turned over like a jet turbine winding up, but again nothing. A kind chap on a Kawasaki stopped and helped me to push the car to a safe off-road location, before apologising that he could not help me further, other than pointing out where I might get a hot drink in my time of need.
I tried, unsuccessfully, the various things that sprang to mind before giving up and calling the RAC. They were very busy, but responded, I thought, very quickly, and the helpful engineer who turned up apologised for not being more familiar with the Seven, before telling me how impressed he had been when being shown around the CC plant when a much younger man. He diagnosed a fuel pump failure, and arranged for recovery back to my local garage. This turned up about two hours after I first started thinking about hypothermia, and my shivering fits started crowding together for company.
The recovery vehicle driver was first class. He greeted me by saying that I looked frozen, and that when he had been told it was a Caterham Seven he was rescuing had put his vehicle heater on full. Out of the rain and the wind I was luxuriating in the cab when my 'phone rang,and my local garage chap told me he was away for the weekend! I just hoped that one of the workshops in the small industrial estate was open, and was fortunate to have a neighbouring garage take it under cover. The recovery driver offered to drive me home, but he was well into overtime, with a long way to go home, so I walked to the Wolborough Inn, had Tim pour me a pint, and 'phoned for a taxi.
My luck of the day continued. "Twenty minutes" said the taxi firm. "Great!" I thought, settling into a local paper and my pint at the same time "I can make a pint last twenty minutes if I have to".
Ten minutes later my 'phone bleeped to announce my taxi was at the door. I grabbed my helmet bag, outer-layer fleece, water-proof jacket and game bag, downed my pint, and jumped into the taxi.
Home at last, undressed and with a hot bath running, my home ‘phone rang – I had left my mobile ‘phone in the pub...