There are very few, if any, real accidents. Most ‘accidents’ have a cause, which is very often human error, and the saying “if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”, is a good maxim for anyone whether preparing an evening’s entertainment or planning a journey. The other interesting thing about nearly all accidents is that they are accumulative. By that I mean that a small problem, not rectified at an early stage, can suddenly build up and become a major problem which can ruin an evening. So where did I go wrong?
It all began one midweek morning when I had a call from a company, for which I do some work, offering me a Saturday night job providing the music for a dinner dance. The occasion was the annual meeting of a car club. The evening would begin with a drinks reception, then dinner followed by a couple of speeches and some award presentations, then dancing until 12:30am. The guests would be a slightly older (and probably richer!) group of people with an interest in a particular make of car. All very straightforward.
Now perhaps I should have looked at the booking form in more detail, but I just gave it a brief glance to check on times and address. The address was in Sussex and on the day of the job I set off in good time intending to drop into a friend’s house on the way to return a smoke machine which I had borrowed from him. All went well until I left my friend’s house and tried to put the address of the function venue into my Sat Nav: there was no response. Now, being a reasonably intelligent person (no heckling please!!), I soon put two and two together and worked out that in deepest Sussex the address I was after was in fact a private un-adopted road which the Sat Nav wouldn’t recognise. No problem, I had a ‘phone number, so decided to plough onwards and call the client when I was in a nearby town.
After a drive of about an hour I reached the right area and called my client. “Could you please give me directions to your house”, I asked. “I can”, he replied, “But why do you want to go there?“
Realising that I hadn’t told him who I was, I explained that I was the music man for the dinner dance later in the evening.
“Ahh”, he responded, “the dance isn’t at my house, it’s in a hotel in Enfield! It took us about two hours to drive here earlier this afternoon!”
My heart sank. It took my client two hours to get to Enfield and without the speed limiting trailer which I had to tow containing all my gear!
I took a deep breath and turned the car around, having told the client I would be at Enfield as soon as I could. Just over two hours later I arrived. Luckily for me, I knew the hotel in Enfield so didn’t have the added problem of more navigation issues, but as I got nearer the venue something felt wrong. The car was making heavy work of towing my trailer and when I finally arrived and walked around to open the door I noticed that the trailer was leaning over to one side - yep, a flat tyre!
In Fawlty Tower’s style I shook a fist at the sky and wondered if my PA system would work, or would I perhaps drop down dead just before music was due to start? Luckily, apart from arriving late and having to set up during the meal, the evening ran smoothly. The client explained that the fault with the booking form was his. He had signed it not realising that he had put his private address down as the venue. I got paid, but still had the problem of having to leave my trailer in the hotel car park overnight before returning on Sunday morning to retrieve it armed with a new tyre. Again, I was lucky, in that nothing had been harmed when I returned, but I learnt two valuable lessons.
1) Always call the client to double check the details before every booking (this is something I normally do but this particular time...).
2. Always carry spare tyres, trailer as well as car, if that is your preferred mode of transport. (Yes, I am sure you already do but, if not, why not learn from my misfortune…).
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 77, Pages 64 - 66.