Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Running On Empty

The subdued lights of the Jaguar's dashboard gave Philip's face a greenish pallor as he eased the big car into the entrance to a farm gate. The fuel gauge was pointing perilously to the empty end of the scale, and cutting the engine dead he opened the walnut veneered glove box lid. The moon was just rising through a wood like a poacher's lantern and an owl screeched nearby. Reaching in Philip took out a yellow booklet that had been slid between a tin of travel sweets and a Bartholomew's map of Devon and Cornwall. With a sigh of relief he found his location on the A30 and realised he was only a handful of miles from Bodmin, and the indicator on the AA map told him that the Mid-Cornwall garage on Treningle Hill was open until midnight. He then checked his watch and the dashboard clock to see to his horror that it was five past twelve. The owl screeched again and as Philip looked into the driving mirror he thought he saw in the moonlight a figure crouching by the roadside hedge.

11 comments:

Alan Godber said...

And if you told them today they wouldn't believe you. Very funny. When does this date from Peter, the 1960s? I remember being with a school girlfriend and her family in her father's Mini around 1972. We were returning to Loughborough from Newark quite late on in the evening. They then had to drive home to Castle Donington. Due to the lack of open filling stations en route we stopped at a farm, he knocked on the door bought some petrol from the farmer.

Peter Ashley said...

It's around 1960. So only one year in with the M1 and service stations, but there were a few 24 hour filling stations. Cornwall only had about two late openers.

Alan Godber said...

Thank you. It's easy to forget how much things have changed. Clearly it took longer to change on the A46 between Newark and Loughborough... or perhaps the Mini just had a dodgy fuel gauge.

Peter Ashley said...

In my Mini Moke you didn't have to rely on the fuel gauge. Your passenger just unscrewed the big cap next to their seat and looked into the tank.

Stephen Barker said...

The problem now is finding a petrol station. So many have closed especially in rural areas that running low on petrol in an area you are unfamiliar with is a problem. Mind you I suppose there is an app on your mobile phone for finding petrol stations, assuming you can get a signal for the phone.

Sue Imgrund said...

I'm pretty sure my dad always had a jerry can with half a gallon or so in the back of the motor just in case. I'm sure that would be frowned upon these days.

Peter Ashley said...

I've always got the back-up of my lawnmower petrol container, but only if the car is at home. But filling stations are indeed getting rare. The nearest to me are at least seven miles in any direction.

Philip Wilkinson said...

I've only just found this. How marvellous. Only the other week I saw someone driving one of those old lightweight Land Rovers (nearly as spartan as your Mini Moke) with a jerry can strapped on to the back. Now that's what I call being prepared. Nowadays people are increasingly driving around in the greenish-hued light of their satnavs, which can be set to show petrol stations...but probably not their opening hours.

Stephen Barker said...

Peter, what was it like to drive a Mini Moke? I have often wondered. I had 4 old style Minis and remember them fondly as a lot of fun despite corrosion and mechanical problems.

Peter Ashley said...

Stephen it was just fabulous. It didn't have the side screens, only the flimsy roof, so was incredibly cold driving at speed. Mine was in British Racing Green and started life as a course vehicle at Newmarket. The seat cushions were held into place by brass studs, so you took them out and hosed the interior. Great fun.

Peter Ashley said...

Stephen: you can see a picture of it and more detail in my blog post of 22 July 2009.