Wednesday 24 October 2012

Blow out and feeding children to lions

The ferry is just leaving a grey windswept Dover as I write this. The journey to the port was eventful. Just over eight months ago I commenced the same journey – pulling a loaded trailer behind our small motor caravan. This time I am pulling another trailer with a similar load: it contains a concrete mixer, generator and rotovator to replace some of the things stolen from my building site in Spain. The “new” trailer is smaller and quite invisible when towing so, as part of its renovations, I added a pole to one corner so that I could see what the trailer was up to as I sped along. Good job too. Soon after leaving the M25 on the way to Dover I glanced, for the hundredth time, at the pole and it suddenly dipped and slanted to one side. This was followed by a loud grinding sound. I pulled quickly off the motorway into the hard shoulder and stepped out into the driving rain, careful to stand well back from the heavy traffic thundering by.

The nearside tyre of the trailer had burst spectacularly destroying the flimsy mudguard and wrapping the deflated innertube so tightly around the axle such that it jammed the wheel which then ground itself against the road: all destroyed. Luckily I had a spare, but it took me a good while to cut away the innertube and to run back to retrieve the remains of the mudguard. Good start! But it could have been worse.

I am concerned about taking all this replacement stuff over to Spain. An old song or recording keeps running through my head. It’s about a couple who visit the local zoo with their son Arthur. Their disaster was far worse than a burst tyre: the lion ate Arthur. Towards the end of the recording the zoo keeper apologises for the sad loss, offers his condolences and a sum of money to the parents and then, rather insensitively, encourages the mother to have another son. Her reply is classic: “To feed ruddy lions, not I”.

Will I just be feeding the criminals with more contraband to sell? Well, much of it is secondhand this time and I do have some ideas about security. The problem is that nothing short of viscous guard dogs will deter determined thieves. Yesterday, on my last tour in Oxford for a while, we watched a man cut away a heavy lock from a bicycle. He was not a criminal. The bicycle’s owner, who had clearly mislaid her keys, had called him. The scary thing was that he used a portable angle grinder to cut through the lock in less than three minutes. What chance have I got? One idea is to erect a very strong door with heavy slide locks – at least the bastards would have to work hard for their spoil. Onward across the waves and byways of France and to Spain!

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