06/09/2002 @23:31:16 ^00:56:53

Fence panel mayhem: the full story!

It's 1pm on a Thursday afternoon in early September. I am about to make lunch when my dad turns up at the house. He's making us a new fence, because the old one has almost completely collapsed. So far he's got the posts but needs the panels to go between them. He drags me off to help carry the things, fair enough, six foot square fence panels are heavy.

We drive to the Coventry branch of Wickes, walk in and find the outdoor supplies area. He finds a panel that's the right size and we take it through the checkout out to the car. This in itself was quite weird. Imagine buying thirty six square feet of wood, taking it through a checkout desk like you might buy milk and bread at the supermarket. Oh well.

Now my dad's put a roofrack on his car. He gets several pieces of rope out of the boot and ties the panel to the roofrack with them. It seems secure, so we leave for home. Out the window, I can see the thing wobbling as the air flow goes under and through the gap created by having the roofrack there. I think aeroplane wings wobble like this so I reckon all is well. Until we reach the ring road, where the natural vehicle speed is a bit higher.

I'm just thinking, we're going just slightly too fast... I'm about to point this out, when...


The panel is ripped from the top of the car! It has taken out the entire roofrack with it! It crashes into the road, showering the tarmac with pieces of roofrack, narrowly missing the car behind!

So my dad stops the car, yes in the ring road, and we run back to get this huge piece of now slightly broken fence panel off the road and onto the kerb between it and the slip road. We untie the remainder of the broken roofrack from the panel and fetch the bits from the road and he tells me to wait with the panel while he moves the car.

This is how I found myself sitting in the middle of Coventry ring road, in charge of a slightly broken fence panel, that every time a lorry went past, would threaten to be blown back down the kerb into the road.

Now just as we had been moving the panel off the road I had noticed a police car going past in the other direction. So I'd been there for about fifteen minutes when I was not entirely surprised by another police car pulling up behind me. The pleasant-faced young woman driving it asks me the obvious question; I told her what had happened, and my forlorn expression obviously moved her to think "this guy doesn't need any more crap today" so she told me to be careful when we removed the panel and left it at that.

A few minutes later my dad comes back. All I can think to say is "Isn't it lucky that we have a sense of humour?" We pick up the panel and start to carry it. Where? Oh, all the way home? Oh, okay... No, I know, there's no other obvious solution, it's not like we can reattach it to the car.

So begins a long walk awkwardly carrying a heavy and intractable object. My hand is twisted. It hurts. It really hurts. No I'm going to have to put it down. Can we carry it horizontally instead of vertically? Okay, that's better, my arm is no longer twisted but I still can't get a decent grip on the wood. I can't feel my fingers. Oh well, nearly home now. Ouch...

Anyway it strained lots of muscles and so yesterday I couldn't get my fingers to do anything much, especially grip anything. My dad, who's better at this type of thing managed to fix the panel with some nails and stuff like that. So I suppose all's well that ends well, but it will be interesting to see how he intends to get the next ones home...