I gaze in distress at my flat car.

It will clearly require some work at the Kwik-Fit place. Bits of it are strewn in the street, and the front wheels don’t seem to be facing in the same direction. It is probably my fault for parking it directly above the bit where ‘SLOW’ is painted in the road.

A crowd gathers.

From the cab of the delivery van that is embedded in my neighbour’s verge, emerges a sheepish-looking man.

“Are you all right?” I ask him gently.

In situations like this, it is always important to ascertain immediately whether the other party is injured or is suffering from shock, as it is considered unsporting to take somebody with such a condition and administer a savage beating.

“Fffffftthhhggg,” he replies.

This does not get me anywhere. I pick up a few pieces of car from the road. “Are you OK?” I repeat. He is staring at the front of his van, which is now the middle of his van.

“Hbbbblllllbbb,” he continues.

I sigh and disappear indoors to make strong coffee. The younger Industrious Builder wanders out with his cameraphone thing in order to perform citizen journalism. Kettle boiled, I leap into action by telephoning the police and emailing a barrister friend who advises me that I am unlikely to have whiplash simply from turning my head sharply to watch my car sail through the air.

“Here you go,” I say to the man, who has a suspiciously Lincolnshire air about him.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” he mutters softly.

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