Near Misses

This has been a crazy week in which much has gone not-quite-according-to-plan and yet disaster has been narrowly averted. I think it began midweek when the exhaust fell off my car. It went a few weeks back for the first time, not quite so drastically, but so that I felt I was driving a souped-up rally car. There’s no mistaking that gutteral roar of a perforated exhaust. Anyway, Mr Litlove took it in to be mended and returned it half-fixed, with the instruction to ‘see how it went’. Yeah, right. So inevitably, on Wednesday, I was headed into town when the bad noises started up again, and as I tried to get back home, things took a turn for the worse. It was clear I was dragging something screeching and protesting beneath my wheels, and what a spine-crawling, teeth-gritting sensation that was.

I limped to the nearest exhaust and tyre place and watched my poor car go up on the ramp, where the damage was clear to see. They said they’d fix it that afternoon, once the part had come in, but this was not the sort of salubrious joint where you can hang about waiting. It was like an oily aircraft hanger with three office chairs in a row, none of which I particularly wanted to sit on. So I rang Mr Litlove to outsource the thinking as my brain was already overloaded, and he said: get a taxi home. I persuaded him to come back from work a bit early so we could collect my car later in the day. But this was all very unhelpful and time consuming as I had a little book club gathering at my house that evening for which I wanted to prepare. Well, I did manage to tidy the house and fix up some snacks and even print out some questions for us all – this was a clever feat by Mr Litlove as the ink cartridge claimed to have run out, it being that kind of a week. But he printed them out in blue and that worked. In the end the car was sorted, food and questions were ready and we had a lovely evening.

The next day I was scheduled to go to London to meet with an editor I know. All was going okay until that last five minutes before leaving, which always stretch to ten and make you late. It began to absolutely pour with rain and could I find my umbrella? Well obviously not, and I still haven’t located it; how can I possibly have lost another? What do I do with them? I had a walk to the station and did not want to sit drenched on the train, so in end I remembered I had a cute hat. You might like to see it, so here it is:

So, late already, off I set and because my brain was frazzled, I took the wrong route to the station and thought I’d missed the train more times than was comfortable as I sat in queues of traffic, mentally rearranging my day. But by a miracle, I made it with about half a minute to spare. One of the things I did in London was to visit the Persephone shop. What a dinky place! Tiny front part, box shelves around the walls full of Persephone books, and beyond, desks piled high with papers, a stacked wall of boxes of copies, so clearly a shop, the office, the warehouse and distribution centre all in a few square metres. But it has such a charming old-fashioned air and feels very cosy. Naturally I came away with a few books: Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple, The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens and Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins. Ah, joy.

The meeting with the editor was very useful. I had a couple of ideas to run past her and she liked them both but needed to see full proposals. I’d been kind of hoping to avoid that, as the one thing I have consistently failed to crack over the years is proposal writing. Twenty years of academia has hardwired my brain and it just can’t seem to change. But it was good to be able to talk it all over with a professional, as it’s usually just me in a room with the thoughts going round and round in my head. She’s a really lovely woman and a lot of fun, so we had a good laugh. Nothing settled and a lot of work in prospect, but at least it’s clearer now what I have to do.

So, out I come from the offices and figured that if I picked up a cab, I could beat the rush hour home. I was walking down the road when I saw a lit up light. Once I’d got in the guy did a u-turn and started laughing, as I’d been walking in the opposite direction to King’s Cross. I really like cabbies in London as I’m usually lucky and get one who’s keen for a chat and a joke. This one thought I was hilarious and milked it for all he was worth, wanting to know where I was going and suggesting that if I’d kept walking I might have hit Cambridge before I got to the train station. In fact, I think I was extremely lucky, as the two other branch lines in my area were affected by accidents while I managed to travel home unhindered.

So, I sailed home, feeling invicible. Walked into the kitchen, noted the absence of my dear son, and decided to send him an arch and teasing text asking if he was eating at home tonight or staying over at his girlfriends’. Only of course, this being the week it was, my thumb slipped and I sent it not to my son, but to the window cleaner. He has not deigned to let me know what he thought of this, and I have yet to decide on my strategy next time I see him in the bookshop. I either rush forward full of apology or lurk in the back, avoiding eye contact. At least I provide entertainment for people. Mr Litlove laughed like a drain when, mortified, I told him what I’d done. Oh let’s hope for a smoother week next week….

28 thoughts on “Near Misses

  1. That’s hilarious! The poor window cleaner must have been horrified. Glad to hear your trip to London was fun and productive. And sorry to hear about your car. I’ve been having car troubles that are all self-inflicted. I keep expecting to hear another cheerful crunch and have decided that listening to the radio, thinking through various problems and reversing all at the same time are too difficult for my poor brain.

    • Pete, some cars are doomed. The one I have currently has had more bashes and scrapes than all the others I’ve owned put together! I hear you about that sort of mental multi-tasking and yup, I can’t do it either! As for the window cleaner… sigh. Yet one more man I can’t look in the eye again.

  2. I am trying to envision my own window- cleaners face should I suffer a similar slip. He forwent his ladders some years ago and uses an implement akin to a chimney sweeper’s brush. I suspect he would add as many extra lengths as meant he could wash the windows from the far end of the road. I would probably have to leave his money under a stone on the local parish boundary. Have a better weekend!

  3. What a cute hat and a great photo!🙂 Some weeks are just like that, aren’t they? At least it sounds like you’ve dealt with it all with a good sense of humor. I only hope your window cleaner isn’t married and that his wife didn’t see the text–imagine the explaining he would have to do!🙂

    • Oh Danielle, I think he is married! I am almost ready to offer some sort of written and signed explanation! But hopefully he has a sense of humour too…. Some weeks just ARE destined to be awkward!🙂 But I am very glad you like my hat!

  4. Can’t wait to hear about your next window-cleaner encounter now! It was a great evening- I really enjoyed it & the questions were great too. Am keeping my fingers crossed that next week will be a better week for you!

    • Oh how crushingly embarrassing!! But thank you for coming over – we did so enjoy it. I want to know what Mr TH replied to the questions!🙂 And see you Wednesday, if I don’t manage to pop into the shop before my meeting tomorrow (I might if I can).

  5. Great hat! The last paragraph made me laugh so hard my kids came running in to find out what was so funny. However, they lost interest as soon as they found out it pertained to the mishaps of adults texting.

    • It’s funny isn’t it, what kids find really interesting and amusing? Very little that has to do with adults, though! It’s my only consolation that the more stupid things I do are often funny in retrospect – and very glad you like my hat!

  6. I hope your window cleaner has a sense of humor. To wit, as you linger in the back, in a raised voice he ought to tell the cashier about the teasing (possibly even flirtatious?) emails he’s gotten of late …

    Nice pic! And may all your upcoming ventures in a motor vehicle proceed without exhausting malfunctions.

    • Oh dear God, I do hope so, too. I think I can live with the teasing, which let’s face it, is going to happen! And thank you for the blessing on my car. It really needs it.

  7. While the hat is cute I’m afraid in the torrential rains we had these days it wouldn’t have helped much.
    I love these mishaps. I friend at work once send me an e-mail complaining about someone else and when I didn’t respond and she looked at her sent items – she’d sent it to him.

    • Caroline, I was lucky. The rain stopped falling so hard and so the hat was enough protection for the day. Just wish I could lay my hands on my umbrella! As for your work friend’s email problem, I live in horror of doing something similar. Clearly that day is getting nearer!!

  8. Okay, I love your picture! : ) You do have a sense of fashion! And I think it is kind of amusing you sent the text to the window cleaner though I am sure you are pretty embarrassed! I have been so busy with my new job, but I will write soon!

    • Aw thank you! As for my window cleaner, sigh. I just have to hope we can both laugh about it some day soon! And really don’t worry at all – I knew you’d be busy as new jobs always take up every last bit of mental and emotional energy. Just hope it’s going very well indeed!🙂

  9. Hello litlove, your story about the window cleaner still has me laughing! Don’t worry, he works in Cambridge, he must be used to mad texts by now…🙂

    I’m about to start work teaching one lesson a week at an adult education centre here and this week there have been various things to do for it and I just don’t know what it is but everything I do connected with that school is a disaster! I go to meetings on the wrong day or in the wrong place, I don’t understand how anything works, I think they are all secretly crying to think that they’ve employed me… Maybe it was just a global week of mishaps and this one will be smoother.

    A meeting with an editor and impending proposals sound most exciting, I hope everything connected with that goes well!

    • Oh Helen, I know exactly what you mean about having a doomed part of a job. When I was teaching there was always one class or one supervision pairing that would be beset with disasters. It’s like once you’ve triggered them off, they just won’t stop happening! The good news is that we are not alone, and I think secretly people are always relieved to see someone else being human when they know it could so easily be them…. and I am SO glad the window cleaner story made you laugh. It’s very redeeming of my stupidity!🙂

  10. Ugh, car troubles, hate them! I bet your umbrellas are with all the umbrellas my dear husband has lost over years having a big party! As for the text, don’t feel bad. Bookman sent one to his boss last month telling him that he loved him. Thankfully his boss thought it hilarious.

    • Stefanie, go and give that Bookman a hug from me. That text story has had me just crying with laughter and I most certainly feel better about my own now! And the thought of the umbrella party is immensely cheering. I will wave them goodbye quite happily if that is their ultimate location!🙂

  11. Some weeks are just like this, aren’t they? I’ve hit send on the text and then realized in horror that it went to the wrong recipient so this story gave me a good laugh and made me feel better about the times that I’ve made a similar error!

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