I was forced to make an emergency call yesterday:
‘Hola Fernando . . . ‘
‘Hola, Hola. How’s it going?’
‘Good, good, thank you. You?’
‘Good, yes, good. The olives are done, now the rain . . .’
‘Yeah yeah. Are you at the farm?’
‘Yes . . .’
‘Do you think you could you possibly come down to the track please?’
‘Sure, what’s . . .’
‘Can you COME. NOW.’
‘I’m on my . . .’
‘NOW! NOW! NOW!’ I shriek hysterically. ‘I”M STUCK! . . . I’M SLIPPING! . . . I’M SCARED!’
Ah yes. I’m amazed I had my phone on me. I hung up and hunted around in my bag for something distracting like a book or chocolate – nothing – while forcing my entire body weight down on the brake pedal. And then I studied the sky (at which the car was pointed) philosophically, and whistled a little and thought about my To Do list and how funny cats are as the Peugeot eased softly backwards down the track towards ditch, gully, curve, and culvert and inevitable breakages because THE BRAKES NEED FIXING and the track is made of WET MUD.
Some minutes later I saw Fernando’s head appear over the top of the hill. I gave a silent whoop of relief, although, as he pointed out when he reached the car window, there wasn’t a lot he could do. ‘Can’t you get in?’ I wheedled. ‘Nope’, he said. We were rather like a badly miscast Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in a pastoral, low key version of Speed. If I took my foot off the pedal, the car was going to go down the hill, and there was too much mud to go up it. Fernando offered to push it up, but I didn’t think that was going to work.
In the end I was persuaded to lift my foot a fraction of a millimetre and to allow the car to jolt, with his guidance and persistent entreaties, back from whence we’d come.
After about the same amount of time, I was persuaded to get the car back to where it was supposed to be, which I did from a racing start with plenty of frenzied attack, this time not only getting to the top, but flying over the summit, and coming to rest at a flat bit.