I’M sat at the side of a motorway, being battered by large lorries carrying bananas, and Baggott is pacing up and down.
What has my life come to? This is day one of our four-day long excursion to the home of Ferrari all for the charity BEN in £500 bangers, and it hasn’t really begun all that successfully.
Hopes were high at 4pm yesterday when we eased The Ark Royal out of her berth. We had completed a two-week long refit of a slightly worn Volvo S80 into a vessel that was once the flagship of the fleet. Perhaps we should have followed the navy’s thought process and ditched her before she was past her best.
That’s certainly the view now as we sit, broken down and waiting for a yellow AA van to turn up. We’re somewhere between Calais and Reims where there’s poisonous berries on the trees and the Armco is rusting, and many of the 31 teams in Bangers4BEN are passing us. Some have stopped to give us water, some have not.
But Baggott and I have put our minds together and we think it’s got something to do with the battery. The radio was the first thing to stop working, then numerous lights on the dash shouted at us, then the speedo stopped, and then all was well. But then a shudder and we’ve stopped. The Ensign is waving proudly despite deprecating looks from the French.
That breakdown you saw in the film above happened another two times. A faulty alternator meant that we had no battery, so the two AA teams replaced them with new batteries but on the last time The Ark Royal had had enough. She wasn’t budging.
Helpfully, though, the two AA Ford Transits which have come along with us on this year’s Bangers4BEN all come with trailers that ingeniously fold out from inside of them. When breakdown three happened, 25 minutes later we were on the road again, albeit in the front of a yellow Tranny with Patrolman Brian.
The alternator problem is terminal. You see the French don’t work on Sundays so any hope we had of getting it fixed are basically squashed due to the French work ethic – and possibly for religious reasons (Ed.).
Volvo UK knows this too. With the power of Twitter we’ve been in constant conversations with loads of you out there offering your sympathy for the loss of The Ark Royal and suggestions to get ourselves out of this deep water (sorry!) we’ve found ourselves in. And Volvo have been trying to get an alternator for a broken ’99 S80 out to us ASAP.
But, even more amazing, is that one of the other teams competing in Bangers4BEN 2011 is the parts firm Klarius. Their team have been trying to get their European counterparts to drop one off for us. All is not lost.
Check back tomorrow to see what happens.
PS. Baggott and I along with the four AA patrolmen have turned up at the hotel to a rapturous welcome. But we’ve just broken the lift. We had to climb out of it. No, really.