“Have You Ever Been Towed Before?”

…asked the RAC man.

“No,” said Sal, “this is the first time…”

It was ten minutes to 12 on Sunday lunchtime, and we weren’t, as planned, loading up the car for our first trip up to the new flat. Instead, we were watching a man from the RAC attach a metal bar onto the front of our hire car and prepare to tow us to Vauxhall. This was a hire car that we had picked up just 2 hours before, at the SixT hire car place behind King’s Cross. Perhaps the massive dent in the driver-side door should have started to ring alarm bells when we picked it up, but it being the only car they had in, we felt that we had no choice but to take it. We’d been driving for barely more than ten minutes, and got as far as the top of the Euston underpass, only to discover that we no longer had a usable clutch.

By the time we’d been towed down to the only remaining Sixt rental office in London that was still open on Sundays, we had wasted three hours of our move date only to end up on the wrong side of London, facing the prospect of having to move our not insignificant volume of possessions into our new flat without a car.

In the end, we achieved this using 5 cab trips, and a couple of walks up the street. And because we weren’t going very far, it actually ended up costing about 1/3 of what we would have paid for a day’s car hire. And I was almost able to say that London’s black cab drivers proved themselves to be remarkably helpful and understanding even though we were filling the back of their cabs with stuff each time, and barely travelling more than a few minutes up the road. Unfortunately although the first 4 trips were effortless, catching the 5th and final cab proved rather tricky. It was late and cold as we stood outside the old block trying to flag one down. A cab turned up pretty quickly, but the female cab driver–the only female cab driver we encountered all day–simply refused to take us. “I’m not a removals van” she said, already beginning to drive away.

We waited 30 minutes before another cab passed by, and thankfully he agreed to take us.

But we’re in. Finally.

I eventually flopped into bed, exhausted, some time after 10, and quickly fell into a deep sleep. When I woke, I was convinced that it was already the morning, but my watch felt otherwise, and was pretty sure that it was actually 2:30am. Sal felt that that couldn’t possibly be true either, but when I checked again it was somehow still 2:30am.

Sal opted to take some drugs to get herself back to sleep, and I was mightily amused to see the warning on the back of her box of over-the-counter sleeping tablets: “Warning: may cause drowsiness”.