by Jon Hepworth
It was all really George's fault, George and the children.
George was responsible because he had insisted that Ann take her car into the garage for servicing and he had refused to pay the extra insurance for a courtesy car. The result was that Ann had to drive George's BMW. It was a beautiful car but far too big and Ann was a small woman and not used to driving it.
The children were responsible because Lavinia insisted that they collect Corinne which made the school run late. Toby decided that he no longer liked smoked salmon sandwiches for his lunch. Ann insisted that today it was smoked salmon or nothing and Toby had sulked.
Ann delivered the three children, late again, to their schools. She was agitated as she drove to the supermarket to do some shopping.
She swirled into the car park, slid neatly into a parking space and was startled to hear a crunch. It took her mind a few seconds to realise that she had been the cause of the noise. She had hit the car parked in the space facing her.
‘Oi - you've 'it my mow-ah!’ said a scruffy young man.
Ann felt sick.
She opened the car door and walked around to the front of the car. The bumper of the BMW showed a few scratches. The damage to the other vehicle, a dark brown banger, was plain to see. The young man stood looking at the damage.
‘Look what you've done!’ continued the young man ‘you've broke the number plate ‘n bashed the bumper, look - see the cracks!’
‘Oh dear! Oh dear!’ was all Ann could say. She was worried about the insurance and the no claims bonus. George would be furious as he had already had one accident this year and a second accident would say goodbye to the sixty percent reduction in the premiums.
‘Oh dear!’ Arm repeated.
‘It'll cost ya - the number plate ’ll be fawti quid and the body repairs at least anuver undred smackers. Give me your reg number and oose your insurance company?’
‘Can't we deal with this ourselves - I really don't want to go through the official channels.’
‘Well you did ‘it my mow-ah - so what’r y' do abaht it?’
Ann rummaged in her handbag and looked in her purse, ‘Would fifty pounds towards the damage and no hard feeling do?’ she offered nervously.
‘Look Lady - the damage is going to set me back at least undred and fawti quid!’
‘Seventy pounds is all the change I have!’
Ann felt dejected, she had been carefully saving up that money from the housekeeping to have a good session at the hairdresser.
‘OK Lady - OK - but I'm doing you a big favour!’ he took the money that Ann offered and walked around to the back of the old banger.
Ann locked the BMW and slowly walked into the supermarket. She did not feel like shopping, she ambled slowly down the aisles putting one or two items into the trolley.
‘Hello Ann - how are you?’ It was Cecily, one of the world's happy people.
‘Hi Cecily!’ said Ann in a dull voice.
‘Everything alright?’ asked Cecily noting that Ann was not happy.
‘Oh fine,’ Ann replied, her voice carried no conviction.
Ann wondered how Cecily could stay so happy; she knew that there were money problems, that her husband was in and out of work, that the banger that they drove was causing them lots of problems.
Ann suddenly stopped her ambling and stood still, holding onto the trolley, a disturbing thought had occurred to her. Cecily drove a dark brown banger. No, she thought, it was a coincidence - it just could not be the same car. Ann's heart began to pound.
Ann collected a few more items and Cecily followed her to the check-out. They both paid for their shopping and walked out into the car park.
‘Nice to have seen you,’ said Ann "Bye!”
‘I think we are going in the same direction as we are parked together,’ said Cecily. ‘That is if you are driving George' car!’
Ann felt sick for the second time that day. She felt unreal as she walked to the BMW and watched Cecily walk to the car that she had bumped into. Ann watched in disbelief as Cecily opened the boot of the dark brown, old banger.
Ann had lost seventy pounds to some opportunistic scoundrel. She was appalled that she should have been conned so easily. Now she faced a dilemma - should she keep quiet or tell Cecily, dear, sweet, impecunious Cecily, that she had damaged her car.
Ann felt like crying. She had lost all that money and could still lose the insurance no claims bonus. Cecily got into her car and closed the door.
‘Oh Cecily!’ Ann shouted, Cecily wound down the door window as Ann walked over.
‘I'm afraid that I gave your car a bit of a bashing when I was parking the BMW!’
‘Oh! I hope nothing too bad,’ said Cecily as she got out of her car. Ann pointed at the broken number plate and the cracks in the body work.
‘Oh that!’ said Cecily ‘those were done years ago - that's not your fault at all!’
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