Friends and countrymen, lend me your ear as I believe Van Gogh once said. A short tale of a strange incident that happened recently.
Anyone that knows me will know I don’t drive, so I rely on friends, taxis and trains to get me from place to place. So recently a friend had given me a lift to a venue where i was performing. As I was there quite a while, my friend who shall remain nameless for security reasons (social security reasons), was getting a little bit bored sitting at the bar and his intention to just have one pint of lager gave way to his boredom and thirst. And this wasn’t alcohol free lager he was drinking. (As a side note, what is the point of alcohol free lager? Who drinks lager for the taste of it?).
One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor
Anyway, one pint became two, two became three, three became four. Unfortunately, it was then time to drive home. At the venue, we had met a guy we know, a proper old character in his 70’s, who lives not far from my friend. Anyway, being the kind hearted guys we are, we offered the gentleman a lift home. At this point I was unaware that my friend (the driver) had consumed four or five pints as he seemed quite lucid. So anyway, the drive home began, with me in the passenger seat and the elderly gentleman in the back. He had asked if we minded if he smoked, we didn’t, so he proceeded to light up and chain smoke. As he was sitting in the back, he was flicking his ash out of the half open back window. Part of the way through the journey, we needed to stop at a garage for petrol. My friend went out to fill up and had a little bit of trouble with the nozzle (maybe due to the effects of the alcohol). Anyway he managed to fill up, got back in the car when I was hit with a very strong smell of petrol (my favourite smell). Not the normal waft you get at a petrol station, but a much stronger aroma. It turns out he had splashed some petrol onto his shirt sleeve while he was struggling with the nozzle. The journey continued, as did the smoking in the back. By this time we were on the motorway and bearing in mind the alcohol consumption, the driver was doing his very best to be cautious and stay well below the speed limit.
Some Like It Hot
What happened next was quite surreal. The elderly gentleman had flicked more hot ash out of the window, the wind caught it, it blew back into the driver’s window, and all of a sudden, there was smoke coming from his shirt sleeve. I was the first to notice it and as soon as I pointed it out, he started to panic as the smoke was getting worse. But as we were travelling approx 60 mph, he couldn’t immediately stop. He opened his window right down and stuck his right arm out of it (the one that was smoking). At this point his shirt sleeve burst into a flame and our panic became frantic. With his left hand on the steering wheel he began to steer left towards the hard shoulder, while braking and simultaneously frantically thrashing his right arm which was now fully alight out of the fully open window.
Obviously this was now becoming very painful as anyone who has been on fire will testify. I also noticed the ominous blue light of a police car coming up behind us. Eventually, he managed to get into the hard shoulder and as soon as he stopped, he ripped his still flaming shirt off and threw it out of the car. Just at this point, the police car pulled up behind us. Needless to say that plod was very keen to hear the full story and unfortunately, due to the severity of the incident, my friend was asked to do a breath test.
Blow In the Bag
And what was the outcome you may ask? Well, he was charged. Although strangely, not for drink driving. The charge was……………possession of a firearm.