As Chico Marx once memorably said: 'There ain't no sanity clause' (Duck Soup). There ain't no sanity line either. Or if there is, I now seem to have well and truly crossed it.
It all started, so very innocently, last week Wednesday after lunch ...
I was leafleting the neighbourhood because the local council, who are so damn twisty you could upend them and use them to open wine bottles, have sneaked in a planning app for an 'access road' across our playing field, without waiting for the decision on the Town Green to be made. This is so that they can claim it was there all the time, and hey, even if it wasn't, they may as well use it now it is to service the development they are scheming to inflict upon us.
Picture me therefore, in the cold and the snow and the ice (just building my part here), trudging the mean streets when whom should I meet but Bill the Builder.* So I stopped and we had a chat about things, and I said I was pretty sure there was an alternative route for the maintenance vehicles to get onto the field, which is what the council is claiming there isn't, which is why they have to build an access road, but I wasn't sure the road I had my eye on was wide enough at the end, where it narrows into an alleyway. And Bill the Builder said 'Carol, I'm sure you could get a 7 ft transit through that alley, and that's what the council ground staff use.'
Then I asked: 'What's a 7 ft transit?' And he gestured towards his builder's van and said, 'One like that.' And then I said, 'Really?' and he nodded, and I said, and I don't remember saying it but I must've because of what happened next, 'Can I borrow your van and see if it fits?' and he handed me the keys.
And the next minute, elderly white van woman was heading up the road towards the field. Arriving at my destination, I lined the van up with the alleyway and eased it down as far as the bollards at the end. Fitted a treat, with 6 inches to spare either side. Mission accomplished. Now all I had to do was back it out and return it to its rightful owner.
Which was when the not-properly-thought-out plan began to fall
apart, because I had not factored in the effect of compacted snow and ice. The engine revved, the wheels spun, but the van wouldn't move. Every time I tried to back it out, it careened gently sideways. In the end, I just turned off the engine and sat staring out at the white wastes before me. I'd forgotten to bring my mobile, of course. Sic transit ....
But it transpires that there is a deity that looks out for lunatics. Unbeknown to me, three Lithuanian builders were working on a house in the road and had been watching my struggles from the scaffolding. Now they climbed down, and uttering the three finest words in the (broken) English language: 'Ve haff rope,' they proceeded to dig away the compacted snow from behind my wheels. Then they lined up their own van, attached the rope between us and hauled me slowly out of the gap, cheering as the transit gained terra firma once more.
So have I told the local council that there is a better, cheaper alternative to their sneaky plan, that would only involve removing 2 bollards? I have. And have they listened? Oh please, come on ... you know the saying: rats always leave a sinking ship ? Round here where I live, the rats are in charge of it. Happy days.
*Name changed to protect his identity.