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This is a question Narrow Escapes

IHateSprouts tells us they once avoided getting caught up in an IRA bomb attack by missing a train. Tell us how you've dodged the Grim Reaper, or simply avoided a bit of trouble.

(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 12:31)
Pages: Latest, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, ... 1

This question is now closed.

Marrow escapes

Anyone want any marrows/got any marrow recipes?
(, Fri 20 Aug 2010, 11:01, 4 replies)
Not me, my Dad
I love my dad. Infact when I grow up I want to be just like him, but not with the diabetes.

Anyho....one evening my dad had been out on the fizzy pop and had got himself a little worse for wear before coming home. Just before bed he's meant to inject himself with 10mg of slow acting insulin. However, being a little merry, he picks up the fast acting insulin (which you are meant to use 2mgs of) and jacks himself up with 10mg of daytime juice.

An hour later my mum gets worried, she can hear a knocking in the bathroom. Assuming it's my dad pottering around in his drunken state she shouts at him to come to bed. No answer, so she gets up to give him a piece of her mind, only to find him sat on the toilet, pyjamas round his ankles thrashing his hand in a bin. She calls him, prods him, waves a hand in front of his eyes but, but to all intents and purposes he's unconcious.

In a panic, my brother is got out of bed, the paramedics are called while my mum and brother try to get some sugar into dad. They don't know where he's put his glucose gel, they're shitting it knowing that he's getting worse by the minute, so grab a banana and mash it up into his mouth, trying to rub it onto his gums so that he'll get some sugar in his system.

The paramedics arrive and test for blood sugar whilst trying to communicate with dad. They cannot find a trace sugar reading, which is bad. Luckily they have the right kit, inject him and slowly he comes round. If they hadn't have turned up dad would have been in a coma most likely with permanent consequences. However, this is not the only lucky escape, as the paramedics said if that happened again, the quickest way to get sugar in his system would be to shove a Mars bar up his arse.

My Dad, horrified at this prospect, says "It's bad enough coming round on the toilet with your pants round your ankles, your mother rubbing banana all over my face and 2 green men staring into my eyes shouting "MonkeyDaddy! MonkeyDaddy!", without having a banan shoved in my fundament"

To which my mum replies, "You do that again and it'll be a bloody toblerone!"
(, Wed 25 Aug 2010, 8:19, 10 replies)
Story added to validate post.

A few years ago a couple of my friends who sky dive regularly asked me if I wanted to do a jump for charity. I decided to give it a go, this would be a solo jump rather than one of those things where you're strapped to someone that knows what they're doing.

The weekend of the jump arrived and my friend drives us down to the drop-zone for the weekend. The Saturday is spent being given a presentation on what you're suppose to do and what can go wrong and how your deal with it and the equipment we would be using. This is followed with lots of drills that make you feel very silly. Jumping into a star position, looking at the sky and shouting "one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, check canopy" and pretending to check a parachute that doesn't exist. Repeat this for hours, then do another drill for hours to practice cutting away the main chute and pulling your reserve in case things go badly wrong.

Sunday morning is spent doing drills as the weather isn't good, in the afternoon it clears up and the 12 of us there for our first jump are suited up and get into a very small plane. Our helmets have a headset radio, but we can only receive and it only works when you get closer to the ground. I'm at the back of the plane, due to some kind of ordering system that I don't understand so I'll be the last person out.

The drop zone is interestingly situated, in one direction is the sea, in another a static caravan park, in another a railway line and farm fields and in another a lot of trees. We're told if you're going to miss the drop zones big white land on me cross you can go anywhere but if you land on the caravans it will probably kill you. We get a nice view of all these things on the way up.

The plane starts circling, and one at a time the people on board throw themselves out, shout their chute opens and they check the canopy. All good so far. I'm the last up, I get in position in the door and confirm I'm ready. Adrenaline is pumping in my viens, but I feel oddly calm. I get the go and I throw myself out and into the star position.

"one thousand"
"two thousand"
"three thousand"
"one thousand"
"two thousand"
"three thousand"
"check canopy"

Looking up, instead of a nice open chute. I've got a twisted tangle of chute and ropes. We've been told about this in training though, so I know what to do. I take a few seconds to work out which way round the ropes are rapped and then stick out a leg and fling it about in a form of sky hokey cokey. The idea being this will spin me round and untangle the lines.

Spin round a bit, check altimeter, it's getting close to the end of the green. I have to use the reserve chute, before it hits red. Otherwise, even opening the chute I'll hit the ground to fast.

Spin round a bit more, check the altimeter. That yellow section is running out fast.

Spin round a bit more, my chute finally opens. I check the altimeter, I've got a tiny fraction of yellow left. The red zone was seconds away. I won't be dying today.

Now where am I? I've ended up being in a bit of an odd place. I'm also a lot closer to the ground than I was expecting. I have to do some tight turns to get me back lined up with where I need to land.

I managed to land on the edge of the big white cross. I'm also the 3rd person of the 12 to land. Which means I overtook 9 people when I was falling like a stone.

Also one of the other people who was doing the jump got a bit scared watching me fall passed like a rock with a streamer attached and this caused them to forget to stear their parachute to the landing zone. They landed on the far side of the railway lines and had a bit of a walk back to the drop zone.

So that's how I escaped death and made some money for charity.
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 12:35, 11 replies)
Three years ago I got a phone call out of the blue from my brother
To put it in context we get on fine but my brother almost never calls me, there is no animosity but we lead separate lives him up in Scotland and me down in London, we never talk about the meaning of life but have great shared sense of humour.

The only time we do talk is if there is something specific we want to ask and even then it was almost always me calling. Even at Christmas he would never pick up the phone to me.

Which was why when the phone rang with his name on the caller id and I heard his voice I was bit taken aback, Mrs N who was in the room at the time saw my reaction and I mouthed silently ‘it’s my brother’ with a quizzical expression’

We were just about to go out and meet some friends but I just felt it was important to take the time and just have a chat as this was so rare an occasion.

We chatted about things in general, how our children were what we were both up and a lot of what we watching that was making us laugh.
This went on for about an hour and at the end of the call I sensed there was something he wanted to say, but being him he never showed his emotion or admitted to any feelings about anything and we just skipped over it and said goodbye.

Mrs N immediately asked if everything was ok and this was so out of the blue, I just was left with the feeling that something wasn’t quite ok with him but was happy that he had called just to talk and left it at that.

A few days later my dad called and I mentioned him calling me up and he said ‘you don’t know how much that phone call meant’ and despite me pressing him on what he meant, he wouldn’t elaborate.

I left it at that and about a year later at a family party my parents came down to London from the little village they live in Scotland the same one as my brother and with a mixture of drink and emotion my mum told me what had happened.
Not being one to share a problem or deal with an issue, my brother had got himself into debt, a combination of a low paid job, a younger pretty wife with a spending habit and deperate not to lose her he had put his head in the sand and ignored the letters and demands till finally the bailiff had come round to repossess the house. He was out but my dad who has the same name and lives around the corner and they were directed there by the neighbours.

While this was going on my brother had gone to the woods to hang himself and that is when he called me, a final goodbye, and we had chatted about this and that having a laugh all the time not me not having a clue at what he had planned for himself when he finished the call.

My brother had disappeared and In the hour we talked my dad had found his suicide note and had sent out his 2 brothers in law and the police to try to find him and luckily one them did.

My dad had to plead with the bank and the creditors and promised he would pay the debt and avoid the eviction. They were actually very good and did everything they could within their rules to help as they see too many cases like this. They saved the house and my parents had to give their savings to pay it all off.

I shudder to think what would have happened if I had said I was on my way out or not even picked up the phone.
The amount of debt was about £9k, to consider suicide over that just leaves me bereft. Had I known and given a few days I could have paid it easily, but me being the younger brother and his stupid pride he couldn’t bring himself to ask.

He has not talked about it since, not a single word, and it’s as if it never happened to him but it’s all still bottled up.

Life is so full of things that hang on the flimsiest chances and opportunities, I’ve gotten over worrying about the choice I might have made a long time ago and am very glad that I did make the right one.
(, Tue 24 Aug 2010, 0:52, 4 replies)
Escaping the Hooligans
One of my narrowest encounters with pain and fear is also one of the funniest things that I have ever witnessed. The scene was a pub in Shepherds Bush early on a Saturday afternoon. I was with my girlfriend having a quick pint before we headed into central London to do a spot of shopping. Around us there were quite a number of QPR football supporters, all in good spirits ahead of their home game later that afternoon. The atmosphere was jovial; a few songs were being sung and all the non-football supporting customers looked to be enjoying the upbeat mood in the pub.

We had nearly finished our drinks when we saw two men run through the door of the pub over to a group in the far corner. I heard one of them say something like ‘Leeds are here’. The group immediately stood up and started making calls on their phones. My girlfriend and I were sat in the opposite corner of the pub, on the same side as the entrance. Peering out of the window behind me, I saw about 30-40 grown men swaggering towards the tavern, and they didn’t look like they were going to pop in for a quiet drink. Other men inside started making their way to the door and the atmosphere turned from cheery to one of dread very quickly. I told my girlfriend that we’d wait where we were and to try keep out of the way.


The shouts got louder and more raucous as the hooligans approached. They were now in line with where we were sat, but fortunately, we weren’t the intended target of any impending violence. A few bricks were thrown towards the front door, and the blokes inside the pub were now spitting with fury, itching to get outside and do battle. My partner reached across the table and held my hand.

“Don’t worry, just sit here” I told her, trying to hide the fact that I was shitting myself at the prospect of getting caught up in the mayhem.

Suddenly, the QPR ‘supporters’ rushed from inside the pub towards the Leeds mob with a battle cry of “RRRRRRRR’s”
The two crowds met and started beating seven shades of shit out of one another. We stayed where we were, trying to stay calm, but this was incredibly hard when windows of the pub were being smashed around us. I went to ask my girlfriend if she was ok, when I saw her eyes widen. She wasn’t looking at me; she was gazing over my shoulder. I turned round quickly.
Coming towards the pub was a 20 stone Leeds hooligan, arms raised, with a manhole cover in his hands. He was laughing as he got closer, taking enjoyment from what he was doing. He kept motioning as if he was about to release the manhole cover towards the window behind which we were sat, but then gripping it in front of him. I’m not ashamed to say that I was too scared to move. I should have ducked under the table or moved: anything but stay where I was sat. The hooligan was now right up against the window, gurning with delight. He raised the manhole above his head once more and started making his way backwards.

‘This is the one’ I thought. I knew that this time it was coming through the window.

“Get under the table”, I ordered my girlfriend. Little did I know, she was one step ahead of me and was already in relative safety, tugging on my trouser leg, trying to get me to join her.
I sat and watched as the beast moved another step back, and then another, with the manhole still raised above his head. He took one more step backwards and then…collapsed! His leg had gone straight down the uncovered drain and I stared openmouthed as 20 stone of twat hurtled towards the floor, smashing his ballbag onto the corner of the drain hole. The manhole cover crashed to the floor, narrowly missing his head. He now had one leg resting horizontally on the pavement, with the other one dangling down the drain. It was one of the biggest senses of relief I’ve ever felt. I slipped down from my seat and under the table, pissing myself with laughter. The police arrived 5 or so minutes later and we were escorted to a taxi once they’d dealt with the thugs outside. I look back at how close I came to getting showered in glass, but all I can do is laugh about it. It was fucking funny watching him fall down a drain which he himself had uncovered. The scumbag.
(, Mon 23 Aug 2010, 11:35, 6 replies)
Rope swings and childhood friends
In the summer before my 4th year of school, a tight group of about 6-10 of us little girls would meet at the local swimming hole every day, the tumbly tumultuous waters of a dam. In turn, one of our parents would take the reign as lifeguard and chief lunch-maker, making sure we were well-fed and didn’t drown.

There was a massive rope swing nearby which, when I was small, felt like it sent me into orbit then deposited me in a billion feet of water. It was great bloody fun, so we took turns screeeeeee!ing off the end of this rope. Hop out of the water, run down the trail into the woods, grab the rope and SPLASH. Again and again and again. Endlessly, for hours on end.

R ran up to use the rope and didn’t come back. Well, we all lived nearby and popped home from time to time, so we didn’t think anything of it. We carried on using the rope swing and, an hour or so later, we dispersed for the evening.

R never made it home. When R ran up to use the rope, she was abducted, pulled into the woods, raped and stabbed to death. This was metres from where we were. She was buried in a hole in the woods just off the trail, right next to that rope swing. We ran past her again and again and again.

This man watched us, day in and day out, waiting for his moment. It just happened that she was the unlucky one, not one of us.
(, Mon 23 Aug 2010, 11:04, 27 replies)
Look at it
Narrow bastard, not like the IBM Model M my coworker has.

(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 15:20, 2 replies)
Stupidity ..
Once at a party when I was pissed out of my pants I climbed out of the window and onto a scaffold. I then walked around on the scaffold and climbed the ladders until I was at the top level of the scaffold, about four floors above the ground. I then carefully made my way up a slanting roof and onto a level roof. As anticipated, it was a nice view from there, but I had to take it one step further and climb an unused chimney as well. Sitting on the chimney was like sitting on the top of the world.

When climbing back down from the chimney, still dead drunk, I slipped and started sliding down the slanting roof. By pure reflex, I grabbed to the left and got hold of some brick. The sobering was instant. I then slowly made my way back up to relative safety and carefully climbed back down to the party.

I can't believe how incredibly stupid and pointless the whole thing was.

Here's a sketch from memory since I'm not very good at explaining architectural details:

(, Fri 20 Aug 2010, 8:33, 7 replies)
Prepare for complete lack of funnehs.
A few years ago I was working in London for the ambulance service. One week a year, I had to go for a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) course. Now, I was able to choose which course I did, so I went for a MIMMS course (Major Incident Medical Management Systems). Trust me, this is NOT building up to a massive pun.

Anyway, day 3 of the course arrives, and we're sitting in our lecture when the lecturer's pager goes off. "Excuse me a moment" he says. A few minutes later he comes back in with an ashen grey expression on his face. "Right chaps" he says. "We're going to skip the rest of the practical and go straight onto theory. Apparently there's been a power surge on the Underground at Edgware Road and a train has come derailed, so grab your stuff and prepare to deploy."

We all toddle downstairs. I pop my head into the training office and ask if I can borrow the keys to one of the training vehicles, just in case we need some transport. Me and a mate (who we shall refer to as Sideshow Bob, due to his masses of hair) grabbed a new vehicle and booked on with control.

"Yeah, if you can start making your way to Edgware Ro....wait...what the fuck? OK, I need you to go to Tavistock Square WC1 NOW. We're getting reports of an explosion on a bus. Please be advised that we are now declaring a service wide major incident."

I cannot describe to you the terror of the next hour driving into central London. Listening to radio DJs who you listen to every day with their voices shaking trying to tell you what is going on. Watching people pour from buses and tubes, and you being afraid that the next one you go past will be the next one to go kaboom.

So where is my narrow escape?

Well, I was supposed to be working with my regular crewmate on an ambulance in Central London. As I was on a training course, I was at a training centre on the outskirts. By the time me and Sideshow Bob got to Tavistock Square, it was mostly all over. My role that day was making tea and distributing sandwiches, all the while trying NOT to look at the remains of the Number 30 from Hackney a few metres away. It remains to this day one of the most horrific things I have seen. Suffice to say the news pictures were heavily sanitised.

My crewmate was working with a spare member of staff and was first ambulance on scene. He coped admirably and I was incredibly proud of what he acheived. It's not every day that a 6ft 18 stone rugby player cries on your shoulder once it was all over, but that was one of the days.

No amount of mindbleach...

To everyone who was involved in the rescues on 7th July 2005, you have my unending respect.
(, Fri 20 Aug 2010, 9:16, 3 replies)
How I avoided a fight
A few months ago I was out drinking with a couple of mates and we found ourselves in the outside area of a large pub. It was quite a busy evening; there were no tables free so we were stood up by a small outside bar, chatting and smoking, keeping a look out for any tables that happened to be vacated. As I glanced towards the table opposite where we were stood, I saw two males sniff what was probably cocaine off of a card and up into their noses. I quickly looked away; it wasn’t any of my business, but I was surprised at how brazen they had been. I didn’t say anything to either of my mates, but looked over again and realised that both of the males were now approaching me.

As they neared, I remember thinking ‘He we go’. They were ‘proper lads’. You know the type; love boozing and chatting up the ‘birds’, three-styles-in-one haircuts, both dressed in attire usually associated with Jeremy Kyle guests and were walking like constipated apes. Proper-fucking-lads.

“What the fuck you looking at, mate?”

He was quite big, so I pretended I hadn’t seen him.

“Oi, mate. What the fuck were you looking at?”

I turned slowly round to face them.

“Me?” I started, pointing at myself. “Nothing”.

“You fucking what?”


This went on for a couple of minutes; them asking me what I was looking at, and me responding with the same answer. My mates, ever helpful, stood and watched, sipping their drinks slowly. Eventually the two lads got bored with asking me the same question,

“Right, you little cunt, what’s your fucking name”

With that, the larger of the two grabbed me by my collar and tried to pull me towards him. I stood my ground and for some reason, my Granddad’s (RIP) only ever words of wisdom came into my head – ‘If you’re ever in trouble, act like you’ve got a mental illness’.
Before I could process this thought completely in my head, I felt my mouth open and I started speaking in a posh gentleman’s voice,

“They call me The Mongdaddy, boys. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Sputnik, Cauliflower, Wibble Jib-Jib!”

I extended my hand to the lad who wasn’t trying his best to remove my clothing.

“Mongdaddy? What the fuck are you on, mate”

“Why nothing fellow”, I carried on. Still I kept my posh voice. My mates now had their backs turned to us and were slowly sidestepping away from the scene.

”And it’s The Mongdaddy, parp, parp”.

With that, I pulled my hand down like you do when trying to get a haulage driver to sound his horn. I felt the grip on my collar loosen and the big lad stepped back away from me.

“Are you fucking nuts?”

“Oh God no, treacle pie. The Mongdaddy is perfectly normal. Hoopla-Hoopla, come and play the hoopla! Whistle. Flute. Hairy Biscuit”

I was now doing a small jig on the spot. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a few people watching me. I must have looked like an absolute nut-job.

“Hoopla?” The lads sounded as confused as I was.

“Five attempts for a pound, my dear. Get in the cockpit and roll out the kipper”.

“Fuck off, you freak”

And with that they walked away. I returned to my mates, necked my pint and left for somewhere different.
(, Fri 20 Aug 2010, 13:53, 16 replies)
Close to being killed
As he chased me down the hallway, I knew deep down it was either me or him. This black bastard had forced his way into my home and was intent of getting me. I scurried up the stairs and headed towards my bedroom. As I looked over my shoulder, I saw that he had followed me and was clambering up the first step.
He was by no means a big lad, but he was quite gangly, and the way he carried himself was very imposing, with arms spread wide in a threatening manner. I was both livid that he’d had the cheek to come in unannounced, but also very scared about what he would do. He reached the landing and turned to face me.

A standoff ensued.

I stood in the opening of my bedroom door, too scared to say a word.

He looked back menacingly, and kept making small movements towards me before stopping again.

“FUCK OFF”, I bellowed.

He remained where he was. I felt a bead of sweat trickle slowly down my face, tickling me slightly.

Suddenly, he pounced and hurtled towards me.

I leapt backwards and jumped onto my bed waiting for his next attack. He was now in my room and he began approaching me slowly after his initial burst of speed. I decided to take action and I reached over to the bedside table and picked up the only object I could find to defend myself with; an empty mug. Deep down I knew it would be as good as useless, but now I was armed it seemed to make him think twice about coming any closer. My hand gripped the mug handle tightly, turning my knuckles white.
He was staring at me watching my every move, waiting for me to lose concentration so he could get to me.

‘One more step and I’m going to twat you so fucking hard’ I thought to myself. It was as if he’d heard my thoughts, or had I said them out loud? I wasn’t sure, I was too frightened to think straight, but he came at me once more.

I launched the mug from my hand with all the strength I had left in me. It cannoned off his face and he fell to the ground, with the impact causing the mug to smash. He lay on my bedroom floor, motionless, but I was wary of leaving the bedroom. To do so, I would have to step over his body, and I’d seen in the movies that you should never assume someone is dead. I waited for a further two minutes before I’d plucked up enough courage to get past him. I stepped down gingerly from my position on the bed and I was on the floor, moving slowly towards the door, pushed up as close to the wall as I could get.

SHIT! One of his legs twitched, and I panicked. All reason and thought left me and I smashed my foot down on his face. It was over now, I was sure of it.
I fucking hate spiders.
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 14:52, 5 replies)
Guns and Closure
My dad was a Special Agent for the FBI. Back in those days, we weren’t allowed to tell any of our friends what he did for work, just that he worked for the government, then playing stupid like we couldn’t be bothered to figure out what part of the government.

Anyway, he grew up in northwest New Mexico, where the people are as hard as the land. Had many siblings and essentially was a tough son of a gun. He refused to use the standard issue pistol at the time because the barrel was too long and wouldn’t be good in a scuffle, so he always had a Saturday Night Special tucked into a holster behind his back. He was not a man to be messed with: though not huge, he was mean and determined. He had a doctorate degree and when he left the FBI and after his death (more later) I heard from many people what a great guy he was, how classy he was, and what a damn good agent he was - I never knew that guy.

He was involved (I have gathered) in counter espionage, counter terrorism and narco-terrorism. He is reputed to have helped a Russian general defect in the early 80s, had one of the largest drug busts in US history and worked (I have gathered) on the mysterious cattle mutilation cases that plagued the US southwest for years.

At home, he was difficult. He had been raised rough and felt no problem giving you a whack with knuckle, belt, hot wheels track (they really hurt when you’ve just stepped out of a shower), the occasional 2x4 board, or a well-deserved kicking. He also was an expert in getting a small lock of hair, lifting it and controlling whatever child into coming where he wanted them. I admit to never wanting to be around him, be like him, talk to him, see him and shamefully would often ask my mom, “why did you marry him?” It was like nothing I ever did was good enough and he told me at three years old that I was too old for hugs, so it stopped.

This story is how I almost died and how I had a moment of pride in having the dad I did.

One late summer during high school I was coming home from two-a-day football practice. In US high school football, you usually start these up a month or so before the school year starts to condition and weed out the, well the weeds. So, I had to be there at 6:30 am, practice until 10:30 am, then home, then back for 2:30 – 6:30 pm practice. Summers in New Mexico aren’t as hot as some places, but it is the desert and you lost much of your water content. Plus, it was hard work and just plain sucked. I was usually picked up after the afternoon practice by my dad, who would usually ask, “how’d you do?” and I would grunt, which would make him mad, which would result in a good yelling and occasional fist.

One evening, I was walking the two miles home because he didn’t show up. I was hot, dehydrated, had on my football pants, cleats and was carrying my helmet and shoulder pads. I was muttering epithets the whole way. Then, it happened. I suddenly heard the screeching of tires, and yelling on the road behind me. Turning around, I saw two cars, speeding up and slowing down in order to stay in line. One of the drivers held a pistol out his window at the two occupants of the other car and was really pissed off.

This frightened me because people in my city, which is the largest in New Mexico and is known for people handling disagreements with chains, bats, knives and guns. Often, after the intended target was shot, witnesses were shot as well to clear up any loose ends. I freaked, looking around for any cover or concealment, but, hello! desert! There were some knee high juniper bushes, but by this time the cars had arrived and pulled into the street right in front of me. The guy that had been waving the gun leaps out of his truck and points his gun through the window, yelling and cursing up a storm. I could hear some “sorry man” and whimpering from the car, and was almost frozen in place.

It’s at this moment that I hear another car coming, look back, and lo and behold, it’s my dad in his “Bureau” car. I run in front of him, which pisses him off, but tell him “there’s a guy over there pointing a gun at two other guys and he’s gonna kill them!” It was at this moment, that my opinion changed of my dad. He told me to stand where I was, pulled ahead and parked his car behind one of the other cars. He stood up without haste or unnecessary movement, put his hand on his pistol and walked forward to engage the man yelling through the window.

In a voice that was as authoritative as it was calm, he told the man to put down his gun. The man, startled at my dad’s proximity, looked up and said, “who the hell are you?” My dad repeated, his right hand still on his gun, but behind his back, “give me the gun and let’s talk about it.”

Unbelievably, that’s exactly what the guy did. He flipped the pistol around, gave my dad the butt end and started explaining how he had been at a stoplight on his way home from work and these two guys pull up next to him. One gets out of the car and kicks his truck for no reason, then the other pulls out his pistol, points it in his face and says, “I’m going to kill you!” So man in truck ducked down (presumably shat himself) and drove the wrong way through traffic to get away. Then he got really, really pissed off. He retrieved his own pistol, which was much bigger than the thugs’ pistol and chased them down. Not the preferred way of handling such a situation, but it happens.

My dad called in police backup because such things are really not in a federal agent’s day to day jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the two thugs’ were conversing in Spanish about having consumed large amounts of cocaine, how they still had large amounts of cocaine in their car and how they had other weapons as well. Little did they know that dad was fluent in Spanish and was slyly listening. When the police arrived, they took all men into custody, got a warrant based upon the testimony of the nearby federal agent and made a huge drug and weapons bust.

What was really funny was that with all the guns they had in their car, the one they pulled on Mr. Truck Guy was unloaded. Idiots.

Epilogue: Not long after, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. They gave him only weeks, but he was so mean that he lived for months longer. Seeing this hard man who I had never known to have a cold or allergy screaming in pain, losing hair and wasting away changed us. No longer did I want to return the beatings I’d received. He became considerate to my mom and attentive to the kids who were still home. We began to speak as friends rather than as master/servant. Cancer is a terrible scourge that gets far too little attention from those who could do concerts and have telethons, but for me, it gave me perspective that my dad was a lot like me, just a few more years down the road, trying to get by the best he knew how. It also gave me a dad who I love, who was able to say he loved me and rescued me from the caustic, acrimonious self I was creating in me.

Length? about 11 months.
(, Wed 25 Aug 2010, 18:04, 7 replies)
I'm going on a barge holiday soon
Can't wait...
(, Fri 20 Aug 2010, 13:30, 9 replies)
100mph-0 rear-wheel lock-up on an Autoroute
Anyone who's familiar with motorcycles will know what a tailpack is. For those not so au fait, it's a large bag which straps onto the passenger seat of a bike to carry luggage. A nifty little solution.

Less so when one of the critical, load-bearing bungees snaps and, unbeknown to the rider, the 5kg bag rocks off the other side, falling onto the top of the wheel where it's kicked into the gap between rear suspension unit and the tyre. The irresistible force of the wheel pulls it further in until it's locked solid

Of course, the first you'll know about this is the rear wheel locking solid and your world filling with white-hot panic, the banshee death-wail of screeching, tortured rubber and acrid, cloying white smoke. The bike will buck and kick, the rear end will hop and tear and shred apart in seconds.

Normally, the rear will bite - hard - and the back end will entirely lose traction and knife around like a truck. The bike will ungracefully kiss the tarmac in a shower of sparks, the plastic and metal shredding like tissue as the road puts it through a hundred-mile-per-hour meat grinders. It'll disintegrate the solid steel frame and engine casings in a matter of seconds. At close to 100mph this will hurt. A lot.

If you go into the ARMCO barrier or a car coming up behind hits you, that's it, game over, do not pass go, do not insert coin for extra life.

If you're really, really, really lucky, you'll keep the back vaguely behind the front, forcing the bike to go with nothing but brute force and desperation until you scrub enough speed off to gather (what remains) of your your wits about you and gradually increase the pressure on the front brake, bit by agonising bit, until you're braking hard enough to life the back tyre and come to a controlled (ish) stop, on one wheel, trailed by a quarter mile tail of thick smoke, the stench of violently shredded rubber and a need for fresh underpants.

Unfortunately, they were in the tailpack and, thus, now somewhere on the N4...
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 16:35, 13 replies)
I think I must've been about six or seven. You know, that age where you do silly things that could potentially kill you but it never really sinks in until much later on in life.

Anyhoo. I was on one of those fancy sleeper train things hurtling across the south of France, upto my armpits in x-men comics and warm coca-cola. The only kind of coca-cola you have on any kind of extended journey.

So yes, the family was all there about to hit the proverbial hay and all that, when I felt that all to familiar tingling in my bladder. Too much warm coke, felt like a balloon was filling up inside of me. So yes, I dragged my sorry behind out of bed and blearily made my way to the loo.

After relieving myself, I was caught in one of those weird inter-section like parts of train, the bits between the carriages and there was no obvious indication as to how I'd made my way there. I went upto one door and it was locked and had a blacked out window. I went to the other and it similarly had a blacked out window. I tried the door on this and WHOOOOOOSH!!!

There was the French countryside in all it's 100mph glory. Ah yes, and my life flashing before my eyes. That didn't take very long as I recall. I was only 8. Only so many memories of birthday parties and power rangers episodes to go around really.

But yes, I was clinging onto the door for dear life, feeling my grip slip away, knowing that my brief life was coming to an end. Then my mum grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me back inside. "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST SPIDERSLUT, WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?!" I was jabbering whilst my father went completely ballistic at the train guards. "LE FUCKING DOOR-PORT, WHAT LE FUCK?!" etc etc. French was never his strong suit.

So yes, we were moved to first class and all was well. But yeah, it beat alton towers.

Apologies for the length.
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 14:22, 5 replies)
Guns and dogs
2006. Me and my then girlfriend in India.
Our first three weeks bacpacking across India were quite possibly the most intense experiences of my life.

I could tell you about the road accidents, the suicidal bus drivers, the nutters high on crack trying to sell me dodgy drugs or the coconut that nearly killed me as it dropped a few feet in front of my head. But no... I'll tell you about one night in Gokarna.

Gokarna is a hindu town, very religious and generally peaceful if not a little poor. It has a beach and many temples aswell as a main street full of shops and guest houses.

We were there for a few days, exploring as you do, when we befriended a local shopkeeper called Latif. Latif seemed a very nice bloke, quite chatty, clever, funny and world-wise. We hung out with him a few times before accepting his offer to come to his house and eat with his family. Great we thought... This will be nice, a little cultural taste.

So we followed him as he shut shop and he took us down a maze of alleyways, past scruffy looking dogs sleeping in gutters, past beggars and eventually took his to his home.

We walked inside and noticed it had very little furniture, but this was just the way things were, and we tried to relax. He introduced me to his brother and his cousin and they both STARED at my girlfriend... They barely acknowledged me. This is where i should have realised something was wrong, but in the spirit of trying not to offend my host, i kept quiet...

Latif offered to make a joint for us to smoke, and he had a few tokes and passed it our way, and by god it was the strongest cannabis i had ever smoked in my life. It was Afghanistan Charas, and blew my socks off... I could hardly think straight and became instantly paranoid / wary, as i noticed the three guys were still staring at my girlfriend.

Eventually we made our excuses to leave, but he locked the door and urged us to stay longer. The brother and the cousin went into a different room and we were left with latif. He kept telling me how he had prepared for this moment, how he 'knew' that we would arrive at his shop and he kept mentioning how beautiful my girlfriend was...

My paranoid head was buzzing with thoughts, but i just tried to stay alert. He started acting weird, creepy and kept trying to touch her hair... and when i showed discomfort, he smiled at me... a genuinely creepy smile... i asked him to open the door, but he ignored me.

The next thing i know he tells me to come into the kitchen where he will show me how to make 'tea', so i comply, if nothing else but to be a barrier between him and my girl. Although i was constantly wary of the other two guys, i suspected he was 'up to something'... he walked towards a drawer in the kitchen and retrieved a metal object from the drawer whilst he had his back to me...

'Shit' i thought, 'he's gonna stab me'..

But it wasn't a knife, he pointed at me... A metallic, tubular object with a grip... a gun!

They say that your life flashes before your eyes when confronting death, but that's bullshit... the only thing that went through my head was... 'oh fuck!'

and then... then i realised something... I looked closely at the 'gun' and realised it wasn't a gun. It was a tubular oven lighter. He was trying to trick me! The bastard.

He had taken advantage of our cultural politeness and had harassed us after getting us out of our comfort zone, he had drugged us up and was just trying to scare me.

That was it. I stared him in the eyes and demanded he let us out of his house. Strangely he complied, he pulled the key out of his pocket and opened the door. He was laughing, but not in a jokey way... more in a manipulative way, still very creepy but i was no longer scared of him. Before we left, he grabbed my girlfriend and grabbed her in a BIG hug and she forced herself away from him, just before i could grab him and we ran out of the door into the now dark alleyways.

We ran around the corner and double checked that nobody was following us... and the we laughed and nearly cried. It was a horrible experience, but the relief was amazing, nervous, shaking relief...

I told her about my experience in the kitchen and how i called his bluff and we were just delighted to be out of his house.

Then we realised we had NO fucking idea as to how we would get back to the guesthouse. We were lost in a maze of alleyways in the bloody dark. So we walked and walked and walked and eventually made it back into the dimly lit main road and we found our barings.

We continued onwards, alone down the empty Indian road, roughly 2am, hardly any streetlights and just the pair of us.

After a while we realised we WERE being followed. But not by Latif or his family, but by a pack of about ten wild street dogs. Hungry looking street dogs!

Now the thing about Indian street dogs is that they are considered pests during the day, and predators during the night. Many stories can be heard about young children and luckless travellers getting torn to bits by slum dogs. And we had ten of the fuckers slowly snapping at our heels, feeding on our fear.

I told my girlfriend to keep walking and to look for a rock or a stick or anything we could use as an improvised weapon, but we were in the only street in India that had neither stick nor stone.

As we walked onwards, the pack got braver, literally inches behidn us, sniffing us, snarling their rabid snarls and generally scaring the fuck out of us. We figured at least with Latif and his family we could have reasoned with them. But there's not reasoning with dogs.

Anyway to cut a long story short, we walked and walked and the dogs got braver and braver and we thought we were going to die. When suddenly a flash of white light and a loud shattering crack interrupted our thoughts and the pack scattered.

Dumstruck, we looked to the source of the light and noticed a concerned looking Indian fellah staring at us, he had spotted us by chance from his window and had flicked on the security lights and thrown a wooden chair at the bastards and scared them off.

I have NEVER been so grateful in all my life. He had saved our lives. A few more minutes and we would have been dog food.

Good days.

Sorry for the length
(, Tue 24 Aug 2010, 18:40, 11 replies)
School massacre, saved by a television fluff piece
My school years were rather full of bullying. I was small, I was quiet, and I was good at mathematics: these things added together to form a rather large target for these young sociopaths. I counteracted the bullying with good grace – I hid and cried every day for a most of a school year. One of my fellow bullied school friends, however, took a much different approach.

My high school didn’t have much to be proud of – we were deemed one of the worst schools in the state with the worst standard of education in the nation. We were a gaggle of no-hopers, born from generations of destitution. Our town boasted the highest rate of child poverty in all of the United States, but was runner-up in child abuse. Our consolation prize was murder, an incredible amount of violence against our fellow man. As such, my school’s halls were full of The Disturbed and The Left Behind. These students, male and female alike, made it their mission to make the lives of all who may have had a chance of escaping this tainted and rocky cycle of deprivation a living hell. I had great visions of absconding from that rotten prison, as did the aforementioned student. Then his mood changed, and all hope one could see in his eyes was dashed.

And so, when one of the school teachers undertook a long-overshadowed charity event of some sort, a local television crew arrived to film it. As the presenter was setting up her piece-to-camera, the student’s locker neighbour came running up to her, “Are you here about the gun?” he excitedly shouted.

What started as a good news story quickly turned into a full school evacuation. We’d had some gun threats at a football match, so we wanted to be extra careful. I was on my way to my first class of the day - gym - when the alarm went off.

It transpired that this bullied student had started to slowly carry in his deceased father’s gun collection over the course of several weeks. Handguns, semi-automatic weapons, boxes upon boxes of ammunition, gallons of petrol and homemade bombs were recovered from the young man’s locker and car.

His plan was to kill the main perpetrators of his bullying and everybody else – innocent or not – involved in his torment. He got to school early and blocked all outdoor entries / exits to the school gym, including those of the locker rooms. He then planned on throwing homemade bombs into the boys’ and girls’ locker rooms. As the survivors attempted to run away, they would have found all exits blocked. This would have made them easy pickings, which would have allowed the gunman to then fire upon the panicked students as they tried to flee. Once satisfied with his kill, he planned on setting fire to the gym. Planned death toll: 80, more if it tickled his fancy.

In its place, a kid happened to see just a single gun in a bag and wanted his face in the local television news limelight. This, just seconds before the bell rang and all 100 of those kids went to gym class. Seconds.

I was in that targeted gym class and constantly wonder what would have happened if all those pieces hadn’t fallen into place – if the locker neighbour hadn’t spied something suspicious, if the television news crew wasn’t there. Would this kid have told a teacher or would he have allowed it to go ahead? What if the news crew had gotten there just two minutes later? What if this, what if that? Columbine, when it happened two years later, would have been a tragic follow-up to a much bigger event.

Instead, it barely made the local news. You’ve never heard of my hometown. It is tragic, but it isn’t the site of a tragedy.
(, Fri 20 Aug 2010, 15:48, 3 replies)
Snake attack
A friend of mine was attacked by a giant snake. He very nearly died.

Luckily, someone managed to get a photo of the awful incident...

(Warning: not for the faint hearted)

(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 17:48, 8 replies)
Not my story, but a lucky escape for someone!
I have a mate who is a psychiatric nurse. His job has stresses that I can barely comprehend; many and various are the tales of psychotic patients doing amusing/amazing/appalling things. To compensate for this, he does of course do massive drugs at the weekends...

So, bright one Monday morning, a rather worse-for-wear Q turns up at work. He's barely conscious, with parts of his brain still asleep, and others floating somewhere around Neptune.

The entrance door opens onto a staircase leading upwards. As he opens the door, he sees movement above, and instinctively catches the object that's flying through the air toward him. I have to say that "coordinated" is not a word that I associate with this guy - he's more like a shambling pile of laundry that leaves a trail of fag papers, knocked-over mugs and broken appliances behind him - so this was a pretty lucky catch.

Especially as the flying object turns out to be a baby.

Some muppet on the night-shift had given a patient access to her child, which turned out to be one of their less impressive judgement calls. Q says that he's never sobered up quite so quickly: spangled to straight in 0.00005 of a second.

So, I don't know who you are, little baby, but you had the narrowest of escapes that morning...
(, Wed 25 Aug 2010, 10:58, 4 replies)
Born three months early
I weighed in at a whopping 1 pound 13 ounces (thought it was 2 pounds 10 ounces for ages, but my mother corrected me recently -- 2:10 was my birth time), spent 2 months in the NICU and was in the top ten lowest surviving birth weights that year in the hospital where I was born.

Aside from plain old not dying, I also managed to survive with no brain damage, no debilitating neurological conditions and only asthma and a heart problem to show for it (the latter would provide me with another brush with death 17 years later), which I'm told impressed the doctors just as much as my living in the first place. The story goes that after I was whisked away from my exhausted mother's arms and secured in an incubator, the doctor popped in to warn my mother that I'd probably die before the day was out. Much to my grandmother's horror, my lovely mother told the doctor I would live and he could fuck off. In the 33 years since, her attitude toward doctors has yet to improve.
(, Tue 24 Aug 2010, 2:09, 7 replies)
Motorway Madness
September 1995...

Bombing it up the M1 back to uni in Leeds. Junctions 1 to 46 - 180 miles of pure, pristine tarmac. Fast lane all the way. 19yrs old, overtaking any motherfucking thing that moved. Averaging 115mph. Speed cameras still a thing of the future. Had to beat my record. London to Leeds. Last done in 2hrs 24min.

New motor. 'G' reg Daihatsu Charade GTTi. Pioneer headgear. Alpines embedded in the parcel shelf. Sub-woofer taking up most of the boot. 300w amp drilled under the passenger seat. 'Retrospective of House 91-95' rinsing through that system. "To the beat of the drum. Bang! To the beat of drum. Bang Bang!"

And me. Lit Marlboro Red hanging from my lips. Shades on. Desperate to return. Desperate get back to 'Back to Basics'. 'Vague'. 'Hardtimes'. Party time!

Like I said. Daihatsu Charade Gtti. Hottest hatch around. A twin-turbo monster that flew. Only 998cc under the bonnet. Genius quirk of Japanese engineering. That thing would never get made today.

I'm in the zone. Red-line all of the way. Leaning forward on my seat. Flashing my lights. Burning up coaches and caravans. If I'd seen myself today, would have called the police.

And then. From nowhere. An almighty. A colossal. A world-ending sonic BOOM smashed into my ear drums.

Sound barrier being broken? No.

Bass-bin blowing up? No.

Front left tyre exploding at 120mph? Yes.

Then everything went quiet. Tunes faded into the background. I knew I was having an accident. I registered that. Part of me fought with the steering wheel. Part of me tried to push all three pedals at the same time. And a bigger part of me braced himself and awaited the immense, inevitable pain, that was certain to follow.

The car turned. Yanked left out of the fast lane in a blur of screeching metal and burned rubber. In milliseconds the rear end had flipped out to the right. And for one perfect moment. For one clear as day, intoxicatingly frightening moment, I was facing the wrong way down the M1. Oncoming traffic seemingly inches away. I swear I caught the eye of a gobsmacked HGV driver.

Then time caught up with me. The Daihatsu had continued it's arc across all three lanes. As quickly as it had started, I'd spun a full 360 and was facing the correct way again. But this time skidding sideways at a terrifying rate. Towards the hard shoulder. Towards the trees. Towards the ditches. Towards the pain.

And then it was over. I was facing forward. Car not upside down. Just wedged at the far left of the hard shoulder, slightly in drainage ditch. The huge metal posts of a motorway sign just inches in front of me. The hard as fuck trunk of a mammoth fir tree just inches behind me.

Soon. I don't know how long it took. But soon a cop car had pulled up ahead of me. Light's flashing. The officers jumped out and sprinted over. They pulled open the door. They could not believe I was unharmed.

'Saw the whole thing,' jabbered one of them, 'we were ready to call in the air-ambulance. Would've bet my salary you were a gonna!'

The other one looked me up and down.

'Do you know you've got a fag burning a hole in your jeans?'

He was right. My Marlboro had been happily smouldering in my crotch for god knows how long. Jeans were burned through. Yet I felt nothing. Must have been the adrenaline. But that's when I broke down. Tried to get out the car and dust the fag butt off. I didn't make it. Fainted there and then on the hard shoulder.

Came round in the back of an ambulance. The coppers had changed my tyre. Was soon on my way again. Classic FM and never topping 60.
(, Fri 20 Aug 2010, 12:35, 10 replies)
I flew into London on the morning of the July 7th Bombings
I would have been on the central part of the tube system heading in the direction of Edgeware Road had I caught my first choice of flight which would have arrived in London about 8am.

That flight was sold out, so while I sat in departures waiting on the later flight, my mum rang me in a panic about not getting on the plane and muttering something about the tube system exploding, however at this time it was still a suspected power surge on the line according to the BBC news.

I decided to ask one of the BMI Baby stewardesses on the info kiosk, I walked up and asked:

"Excuse me, I wanted to ask you quietly if you had heard anything about an incident in London? I don't want to cause any panic but my mum just phoned and something about a train has stopped after a large flash of light in a tunnel. have you heard anything?"

"let me just check for you" she said as she called up her supervisor "it's probably just a malfunc....tion....." as her voice trailed off.

It was like something out of a summer blockbuster disaster movie, the TV screen behind me changed to show the exploded bus in London city centre with the headline detailing a terrorist explosion on the London Underground.

The room fell silent and the woman's face went white as she stammered "my husband gets the tube every morning, but...he's....getting the tube...each morning" and ran off behind the staff areas.

I can still hear the slow rise of panic and conversation that got louder and louder as more people realised what had just happened, then everyone's mobile phones began to ring, including mine.
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 14:38, 14 replies)
My Grandfather's narrow escape...and backside
My grandad was on of the unfortunates who took place in the Dunkirk landings. I am sure you have all heard about how the UK sent just about every boat with an engine to pick our boys up. Well, my grandad was in the midst of clambering on to a fishing boat, climbing the ladder, when he felt a blinding pain, and realised he had been shot 4 times...

...with one bullet.

A bullet entered his right buttock at an angle that it exited near the bunghole, re-entered his left buttock and exited the other side.

Luckily, he never proudly showed his scars.
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 19:48, 4 replies)
Yes... Not really proud of this one.
It was about twenty years ago, some friends and I were in the airport going to Malta of all places for a bit of a lash.
I was (cough use of past tense cough) a bit of a smoker back then, and really didn't want to go the two weeks without a bifta, so came up with a cunning plan. I packed about a quarter into a little tube about the size of my finger, and parcel taped it to my thigh, as high up as possible.
Going through customs to get to the 'plane, the guy points at me.
"Mind stepping over here sir?"
You know that feeling when your stomach gets lodged in your mouth, and you can see the hole opening up in front of you?
"Just a quick search, sir" as he starts to pat me down.
Under the arms, down the sides of the body, then to the turn ups and up the legs.
As he got closer, I knew I was bound for a dirty life as some crim's bitch. I could see the look on my parent's faces, the life I could have had washing away from me with every pat.
Past the knee, and at the thigh I was literally preparing the "It's a fair cop guv'" speech when he touched the tube. He looked up at me, no doubt seeing the panic break out on my face, and pulled back sharpish.
"(Something garbled)"
My mind didn't comprehend. I knew I'd been busted, in the most stupid way I could have chosen. This was stupid. I stood there, waiting for the officers to wrestle me down and ping the rubber gloves on the ends of their fingers.
"(More garble) you go sir."
Tears started to well up in me as the reality struck home and I knew home was somewhere I'd be dreaming of for a while.
"I said you can go sir."
The inner workings of my brain finally kicked in. I said nothing, but stumbled through to the departure lounge where I shakily lit up a Marlborough. (Yes, and you could smoke 'em on the 'planes back then as well!)
I can only surmise he thought he'd touched my dick and was as shocked as I was.

Now, before you start, I am fully aware of just how stupid I was, even so, any flaming may well be justified. I learnt a lot of lessons that holiday, and hopefully grew up a fair bit in the process. I mean, Malta? I may as well have been taking snow to the Arctic.
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 16:42, 11 replies)
Generational miss
It's remarkable to think about all the random events that must align before anyone is conceived. If one great-great-great-grandparent hadn't met the other great-great-great-grandparent in some random potato field in some Godforsaken little town, etc.

However, it's perhaps rare to be able to point to one event in history and say, "My family missed annihilation by minutes."

Ever heard of the Eastland Disaster? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Eastland

Probably not. Most people haven't.

The Eastland Disaster was no joke. On July 24th, 1915, 844 people died in a matter of minutes as a ship meant to be a pleasure cruise rolled into the water while tied at dock. The worst part is that the 844 people that perished were mostly poor, working-class families. It was meant to be a company outing, you see.

My great-grandparents and their children (my grandmother, and great uncles and aunts) were one of these poor, working class families. I can imagine their excitement at being able to take such a remarkable trip--quite rare for a large family. I can imagine the joy of the children, dressed in their finest Sunday-best clothing. And I can imagine the frustration of my great-grandparents upon realizing that their youngest, my great-uncle, needed a diaper change just as they were about to head out the door. Apparently, my great-grandfather was VERY put out at the unavoidable delay. Don't you know that if we don't hurry, we'll miss the boat?

They did miss the boat. By mere minutes. My family arrived just in time to see the boat turn over. My grandmother refused to speak of that day. I cannot imagine she saw, a young child's delight turned to uncomprehending terror.

The Wikipedia entry does not do justice to the sheer scope of this disaster. Children were orphaned in an instant. Entire families perished in the disaster, wiped out in moments. It was only sheer chance that my family was not among the unlucky. I can thank my entire existence to something as mundane as a child's wet nappy.
(, Sat 21 Aug 2010, 7:26, 3 replies)
My grandfather was one of the few survivors of Treblinka.
He credits his survival to his membership of the SS.
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 19:41, Reply)
Two from me...
...The first being some 30 years before my birth - Grandad, prior to the conception of my dad, was getting on the troop truck ready to ship out, but slipped and broke his leg. His destination was Norway, where all his lorry-mates were minced or captured.

Zooming forward, the location is Swildons Hole, a cave in the Mendips. It's tremendous fun, especially when the water is running a bit high as it was at this particular time. There's a route called the round-trip, which involves negotiating a series of ducks (a low muddy passage, mostly filled with water) and a small sump (a completely submerged passage, which has a rope leading through it. Deep breath, pull rope, out pop).

We decided to do it in reverse, and as the water was higher than usual, we found that all the ducks had become sumps, ie no airspace. They are quite tight and the third one has a hairpin bend in it, so it's not something you can do on a single breath. So we bailed it until there appeared to be a couple of inches of airspace and I volunteered to go first. So I'm on my back in the pool, helmet off and pushed in front, rather like I'm frozen in mid-backstroke. In many respects ducks are worse than sumps, especially if you are claustrophobic - you are supine in a tight, rough tube, 19/20ths of your body under water, with just your eyes and nose peeking out.

On this occasion, we'd bailed so little that my nose was brushing the passage roof, and any ripples caused by too vigorous movements would submerge my eyes. Still, deep breath, take it steady and slow. I got to the hair pin bend and felt my way around it (this is all in pitch black, of course - the light on the helmet being pushed in front of me). Half way around, the roof of the passage dipped enough to deny the already meagre airspace. I unwittingly pushed into it, and was suddenly completely submerged in the cold, muddy water. Instinctively I tried to sit up, but with my face already touching the ceiling, there was nowhere to go, so I just mashed my face into the rock, causing me to yelp, lose my lungful of air, and panic badly. I should have just pushed on through - five more feet and I'd have been in open passage again - lizard brain told me to reverse out. But I'm stuck on the bend - my large battery on my belt is caught on the wall, and I'm going to drown in 10 inches of water, which is a stupid way to die.

Thrashing, I free the battery and wriggle desperately, my body keeps trying to sit up - it's really not helping. Flailing legs gain some purchase and I drag/push myself back the way I've just come. I can feel a pull on my boot - my buddies have realised there's a problem, and as soon as my feet are visible, reached in. I'm pulled free, puking and sobbing with fright.

Bailing the duck has filled the preceding ducks, so turning back is not practical, and if I think about it, I'm going to panic big time. So straight back in. This time, there's airspace all the way through - my thrashing had shifted enough water, and I'm through.
(, Sat 21 Aug 2010, 19:46, 14 replies)
Peeing in public always saves you
My new job working in the desert and my boss was a few roos short of the top paddock. She asked me to take some people back home to a community, telling me it was only two hours away. No worries, 10am, will be back in time for the manager's going away party.

Two hours turns into 4hrs each way, because my boss had no clue. Unfamiliar dirt roads and only one roadhouse and one farmhouse in between the drive. On the way home I rolled the Troop Carrier. On a dirt road. In the middle of nowhere.

I had no satellite phone, because my boss was a wanker, no matches (soon took up smoking again just to have a lighter around) and no idea what to do. It was the middle of winter and the desert drops down to minus at night, so I was more worried about the cold, having escaped any injury after flipping the Troopie.

I was saved! After half an hour of sitting there I walked out to the centre of the dirt road, tugged the strides down and did the longest pee I was capable of. As I crabbed crawled around the road to stop the pee flooding around my boots (as a woman, even in life threatening moments one does worry about the smallest details), in the distance I saw a dust cloud coming at me. Yes, the moment I peed in public a car came along. One of those typical movie moments where I had to sit in the back of a ute with animals, food and god knows what, but I was saved!

If you are the top of a mountain, on a desert road or in space, pee in public and someone will always come along.
(, Sat 21 Aug 2010, 10:14, 2 replies)
I've had loads of narrow escapes.
I avoided being killed on 7/7 by the mere fluke of having been nowhere near London at the time, with neither any reason nor desire to be. Had I wanted to be, and had I actually acted on that desire, and had I caught one of the tube trains that blew up, and chosen the wrong carriage, and sat near the bomb... well, I'd've possibly definitely been a gonner.

Exactly the same applies to the Eniskillen and Omagh bombs. It was only being nowhere near them that saved me.

I avoided being hurt when the Herald of Free Enterprise capsised only by virtue of not having been on board at the time.

Come to think of it, I only just escaped being press-ganged into the Royal Navy and losing my life during the Battle of the Nile: had I been born only a couple of centuries sooner, and in a different part of the country, I dread to think what might have happened.

Oh, and this one time, I was snorting MASSIVE DRUGS from the naked flesh of my supermodel girlfriend when she was run over in the head by a flaming Honda Accord. Needless to say, I had the last laugh.

It's scary, really.
(, Thu 19 Aug 2010, 15:54, 11 replies)
Grave Mistake
I'm about nine years old, wandering through a graveyard with a couple of mates. We pass one of those big rectangular box-type graves, and notice that the side has fallen in. Looking more closely, we can see that the earth inside has also collapsed down, resulting in a deep hole at one end.

Naturally, we dare each other to climb down into the grave. When it's my turn, I resolve to get in and out as quickly as possible. But once in, I'm distracted for a moment by the site of ancient toe-bones, which I can see poking out of the pile of earth at the bottom of the hole.

Just as I'm feeling slightly weird (!) about being in an occupied grave, there's an ominous creaking noise. I look up, and watch, frozen in fear, as seemingly in slow motion the entire stone box structure keels over, pushing me down and effectively closing me in to the cramped, musty and above all skeleton-occupied hole.

I remember shouts, then blessed light as my best friend (well if he wasn't before, he sure is now!) lifts up the stone slab that used to form the top of the box, and now functions as a very effective cap to the pit. He manages to make a gap just large enough to squeeze through, and you can imagine the speed at which I scramble out. In time-honoured kid fashion, we leg it.

The next day we return, and my mate attempts to lift the slab again. He can't, it's too heavy. It must have been pure adrenalin which gave him the strength to do it the previous day...
(, Tue 24 Aug 2010, 16:27, 1 reply)

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