Skip to main content

How the worst car crash I've been in happened while I was in bed

I have to admit to choosing this topic because it's April 1st - but it really did happen. Honestly.

A good number of years ago we were staying at a friend's house in Norfolk. Around two in the morning our hosts burst into the room yelling that my car was on fire.

When we dashed outside it turned out that, thanks to fog, a couple returning from the late shift at the chicken factory (you couldn't make this up) had driven straight into the back of my car, travelling at least 30 miles per hour. It was their car that was on fire (luckily they were unhurt) rather than mine, and the Fire Brigade were already there, hosing it down.

After a certain amount of standing around in that strange mix of jumpers and pyjamas that goes with nighttime emergencies, I had a surreal conversation with a fireman.

There were a total of three cars along the side of the road. First our friend's car. Then, about a metre behind it, my car. Then the burnt out wreck. It rammed the back of my car, concertina-ing it sufficiently that the doors wouldn't open. Yet despite being nowhere near the car in front, the headlights on my car were smashed. The fireman and I speculated on strange shock waves and the like in Mulder-and-Scully-ish fashion then headed off to bed (not the firemen - they went back to the fire station).

Next morning the mystery was solved, when we discovered our friend's car had a big dent in the back. Our chicken plucking friends had hit my car so hard that it had shot forward, smashed into our friend's car, and bounced back a metre. Hence the spooky smashed headlights.

And the moral of this story? Don't park on the road on a foggy night on the road into Harleston from the chicken factory.

Photo courtesy Photobucket


Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Mirror, mirror

A little while ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Royal Institution in London - arguably the greatest location for science communication in the UK. At one point in the talk, I put this photograph on the screen, which for some reason caused some amusement in the audience. But the photo was illustrating a serious point: the odd nature of mirror reflections. I remember back at school being puzzled by a challenge from one of our teachers - why does a mirror swap left and right, but not top and bottom? Clearly there's nothing special about the mirror itself in that direction - if there were, rotating the mirror would change the image. The most immediately obvious 'special' thing about the horizontal direction is that the observer has two eyes oriented in that direction - but it's not as if things change if you close one eye. In reality, the distinction is much more interesting - we fool ourselves into thinking that the image behind the mirror is what's on ou