Not a pheasant start to the year

I hope your 2016 has started swimmingly and – 11 days in – those resolutions to marry Harry, get a promotion or learn how to programme your boiler so it doesn’t just come on between 2am-3am, are in full swing.

Given it’s a brand new, shiny year, my disaster brain was, naturally, jogged back to other new years; years that began with the best intentions and resolutions.

On New Year’s Day 2010 I was giving a bunch of friends a lift home the morning after a beautifully debauched house party up in Suffolk. A party hosted by none other than Mr and Mrs Poo-em if you want to read that story.

disasters of a thirtysomething new year

The party don’t start ‘til I walk in

Everyone secretly thinks they’re a brilliant driver, don’t they? I’m no different. My dangerous driving conviction, speeding points and various vehicular misdemeanours don’t mean I’m a bad driver. Just different. My friends used to joke about needing a crash helmet before getting in my car, and one poor bloke – hi Ben – even screamed like a schoolgirl when I u-turned on the motorway to get back to the exit I’d just missed. But in my defence the roads were pretty empty.

disasters of a thirtysomething new year

Well…did you?

But, no, overall I actually think I’m a pretty proficient driver and I don’t deserve the bad rap I’ve had since I was 17. I mean my first crash was only two days after my 17th birthday but, again, in my defence, I’d only had ONE poxy driving lesson so who was I to say which pedal was the brake and which was the accelerator? My mum – who’d been shouting “BRAKE! BRAKE! BRAKE!” in the passenger seat – refused to drive with me again for at least a year. The neighbour who’d watched from behind her wheel as I sped up our quiet suburban street into the side of her car – and who was briefly hospitalised with shock – never did ask me to babysit again.

But back to that New Year’s Day lift I was giving my (brave? foolish?) pals. There they sat nursing their hangovers while I helped bring them back to peak health by, no doubt, wailing my heart out to No Doubt.

Don’t speaaaak, I know just what you’re saaaaaaying

No seriously don’t speaaaaak guys, I’m trying to sing along to Gwen Stefaaaniii

Early on in the two-hour drive back to London a pheasant suddenly popped up ahead in the road. He was such a little Houdini bird, appearing magically out of nowhere, that I didn’t have time to swerve.

disasters of a thirtysomething pheasant credit Richard Brooks

Britain’s Next Top Pheasant

There was a horrible bump – the unmistakable shudder of bird-meets-car – and we all swung round to see what state our poor feathered friend was in. Well I say we all swung round; I of course looked briefly and Highway Code-abidingly in my rear view mirror.

None of us could see a body.

“That’s weird”, we commented aloud to each other.

“He must have flown off”, came one optimistic voice.

“…or be under another car”, chimed in a realist.

After a few respectful moments of silence for Phil the Pheasant – whatever his fate – the singing resumed; a couple of hours later we were back at my flat in Vauxhall. Remembering the shuddering impact I’d felt from the bird, I went round the front to check if the bumper was damaged.

Oh my EYES.

I’m sure you’ve already guessed what I saw.

The poor feathered friend we’d bumped into back on the A11 had actually accompanied us – albeit against his will – all the way to London. And he was wedged in the grille of my little Nissan Micra. And slightly grilled.

I let out a yelp.

And then I did what any self-respecting twentysomething woman would do in that situation: I phoned my dad. It’s usually dads who know what to do in these car-disaster-type-situations. Dad came over clad in leather gloves (think he’s watched too many Godfather films), and expertly extricated bird from bonnet, giving him a good and proper burial by chucking him in our communal bins.

It seemed so unjust. New Year’s Day of ALL days. I felt terrible. This creature’s life had been snatched away in one moment. And I felt sure that if Phil the Pheasant had ever imagined going home to The Heavenly Bird Sanctuary in the Sky “via car” he would have dreamt of a vintage Aston Martin…not a bashed up Nissan Micra.

What little pheasant kids did Phil have? What hot pheasant wife? What hopes? What pleasant, pheasant dreams? I just hoped that whatever New Year’s resolutions poor Phil had made for 2010, he managed to achieve them all before noon, day one.



8 replies »

  1. I laughed a lot when I read this post, then realised I have a similar driving style to you! I mistook the accelerator for the brake and nearly ripped off my wing mirror by hitting a sign in a car park then again pressed the accelerator instead of the brake and drove into my own house!! Dads do know everything there is to know about any car situation, I’m 32 and still call him about stuff like this. He then usually tells me to phone my hubbie now!


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