Wednesday, 8 February 2012


The following is reconstructed  from first-, second- and third-hand reports during and after the event, so I can’t vouch for the details.  But it seems it went roughly like this:
Just to recap, a lot of snow fell over the Peak District last weekend as people were trying to make their way to Buxton for the wedding.  I was lucky, or skilful, or both, enough to get across from the M6, via England’s most dangerous road, ahead of the worst of it.  Others were less so.
The bridegroom’s uncle R and his family had driven up from Brighton.  They hit the High Peak at about six, two hours later than me.  By then the snow must have been four or five inches deep on the road, and staying frozen as it settled.  As R described it, 4x4s were struggling.  A Jaguar didn’t stand a chance.  I don’t know anything about his snow-driving skills or experience (I learnt mine on Italian mountain passes back in the sixties), but in the event it was the car that let them down.  For some reason, the transmission locked itself in ‘park’ and refused to let go.
The groom’s brother (who I’ll have to call E because  he’s actually another R) volunteered to go and fetch them.  It seems that a decision was reached, up in that icy wasteland, that R and S would stay with the car and await the rescue services, while E ferried the two kids back down to Buxton.  Probably a bad decision with hindsight, they should all have gone.  A good decision, however, made twenty four hours earlier, now emerged:  the daughter, L, had taken it upon herself to load some blankets and sleeping bags into the car – ‘Just in case,’ as she put it later.  Wise girl.
By now, the snowplough had been through, and the road would probably have been passable, if the car had been capable of movement.  R and S wrapped up and waited.  At one point, she had to get out for a pee – ‘That slowed some of the passing cars down,’ she told us next day, ‘but they didn’t offer us a lift.’  After about an hour, the rescue man turned up.  (To be slightly fair, he’d probably been quite busy.)  He took a look at the shift lever, went off to his vehicle and returned with a screwdriver, which he proceeded to apply to something invisible to the non-technical naked eye.  It didn’t work.
‘Have to call technical support,’ he announced.  This took some time, after which he returned with a bigger screwdriver.  That didn’t work either.  Rescue man announced that there was nothing more he could do, and prepared to leave.
‘Well, can you drop us off in Buxton?’ asked R.  ‘Please?’  Rescue man shook his head and said – and this is a verbatim quote – ‘No.’  And drove off.
They got there in the end, of course  – because E, another true hero, went out again – again!  There were complications even at this stage, but I lost track.  The wedding was attended by R and S, who both eventually got thoroughly and appropriately … rescued, is that a useful new euphemism?   And the car got recovered and repaired on Monday, I’m told.  So it all ended well.  (Except for that rescue man, of course, who broke down on his way home and caught pneumonia … No, I made that bit up.)


  1. The story of our multiple car breakdown has rather lost its drama after that. Wise L. I'm sure the breakdown man has received his just deserts by now, with the multiple malevolences directed at him.

    My parents drove down Alpine passes in their Daimler Dart in 1960. The next day, the brakes failed. Apparently, the cable was a bit long and it had chafed every time the brakes were hit until it wore through. Still, no harm done, hey.

  2. Those poor people!
    What sort of breakdown recovery leaves the vehicle unrecovered?

  3. As a postscript, I've just learnt that the groom's parents P and C had completely forgotten that they were bringing the newlyweds back south en route to Thailand and had filled their boot with 'quote a ridiculous amount of stuff, just in case unquote' and so had no room at all for said newlyweds luggage... Apparently they were frantically waving after me as I drove off ... It got sorted out (best man to the rescue).