Anyone who doesn’t know how far I’ll go for my passion for old cars, consider this. When I heard that a friend was going to leave his 1991 Rover 216SLI (with GTI engine) in deepest darkest Romania after the RatRod 2011 rally, seasoned travel addict Andrew Elphick and I decided what we needed to do was to bring it home. And that’s what we did. However, we did have a few problems along the way.
Regular readers might recall that I suffered something of an unfortunate accident during this adventure. Looking back at it now, I should be able to laugh, or maybe even smile – but for some reason, I’m still struggling to come to terms with it. My co-traveller, Andrew Elphick managed a chuckle or two at the time (okay, he was crying with laughter when he saw me stuck down that hole), but afterwards, he did say he’s glad he didn’t photograph the hole I fell down as it ‘would have haunted me.’ That doesn’t sound good.
The accident was one of those silly ones – I jump out of the car, walk around it, and fall down a broken manhole in the grass. I was a bad fall, too – my foot was badly smashed on the way down (the final scores on the doors were five broken bones and five dislocations) and as a consequence of putting my arms out to stop the fall going any further, I badly dislocated my shoulder. In total, I was a mess as a result of it – and the following eight weeks have been perhaps some of the most miserable of my life.
The upshot was that for seven weeks, my left foot and lower leg has been in plaster, and for four weeks, my arm was (supposed to be) in a sling. As you can imagine, being in this condition has left me, er, somewhat immobile – and suffering from a severe case of cabin fever. I love travel, and having the ability to enjoy it taken away from me has not been good for my equilibrium. Still, my loss is your gain, as it’s allowed me to focus a little more time on AROnline than normal.
It’s also fortunate that my job at Octane magazine allowed me to work home pretty much from the moment I was discharged from Kettering General Hospital after a week’s stay. The chaps there have been absolutely brilliant, allowing to write up features I’d already shot, as well as being understanding and sympathetic when it came to the pressures of putting the magazine together during two arduous press weeks. I think without that, it could have been very different indeed.
Now, I am off crutches, and am walking. My foot is still swollen and stiff, and I can’t put too much pressure on it – which is fun when trying to go down stairs. Thankfully, it’s recovering slowly, and now a manual transmission car’s clutch holds no fear. Even on my heavy old Alfa Romeo 156. The interesting thing is that although the foot damage is more severe, it’s the arm that causes the most pain.
Now my life’s taken on a semblance of normality, it’s time to take stock. Many people have been saying to me that I should consider compensation, and even when I was in hospital, the nurses were at it, too. Problem is, it’s hardly a normal whiplash injury – the sort of thing that’s done on points or whatever – but a much more complex issue entirely. Although Romania is in the EU and the injury should be treated as any other, I do wonder what the implications of trying to claim something back.
I did have a chat with my car-loving Jaguar XK-R owning Octane reading solicitor about the whole situation, and it’s not that clear-cut. I did think about calling one of the no win no fee service helplines out there to see if he was being overly pessimistic – but I’m just seeing if there’s anyone out there who’s been in the same boat as me… and if so, let me know if a) you claimed and b) how you got on. Part of me thinks that it’s just one of life’s episodes and claiming would be churlish – but then, a few weeks in the warm could be just what the doctor ordered…
…as this winter weather is playing havoc with the metal they’ve left in my foot.