On Tuesday 2nd of January 2024 I set off to conduct a family visit. This is the meeting that a celebrant has with a bereaved family to plan the funeral and it’s usually a central part of the process of arranging the ceremony. Of course, you try to be fully prepared. You take note pads and pens. You perhaps carry books of poetry. I always dress smartly, in this case with suit and tie and polished black shoes. And, of course, I plan the route to arrive in plenty of time and to allow for mishaps on the way.

This particular visit was to a town in Fife and I judged it might take 40-50 minutes from my home in Dundee. I set off in good time and wasn’t too concerned when I missed a turn-off just outside Cupar. Google suggested an alternative route with only a slightly later arrival. But here’s the difference between trusting Google and checking on a proper map… the alternative took me along some very small country roads. The weather had been terrible with torrential and persistent rain. There were dense patches of fog. And suddenly I came across a flooded dip in the road.

It’s easy to look back and think how ill-advised it was to press on. Surely I should have seen how deep it might be. But press on I did, completely misjudging the water’s depth. All sorts of exotic warning lights flashed on the dash. I tried to back out but only managed to move myself into a ditch. And with a sort of resigned spluttering, the car’s power quietly died.

I’d like to think that I calmly assessed the situation and proceeded logically to take action – but there was a definite moment of panic. A moment heightened by the realization that water was entering the car. But I did regain some poise and called the family. Then I called the roadside assistance who arrived remarkably quickly (thank you Honda!). Unfortunately, it turns out that they were not able to move my car until the waters subsided. But yes, the very friendly and helpful man from the AA agreed to give me a lift. All that I had to do was to…. wade over to his van.

At this point it is worth mentioning some other things that the well prepared celebrant should carry in the car at all times. One (or preferably several) carrier bags in which to place polished black shoes and socks in the event of a flood. And a towel.

I did in fact make it to my family, albeit rather late, and I did manage to have a good conversation, even if my note-taking was hampered by very shaky hands. And I have to mention the several local people who offered to help (including a farmer who has kept me updated with the extent of the flood) – thank you to them all. And thank you to West End Garage – the Honda dealers in Broughty Ferry – who were so helpful and supportive. The benefits of buying a car from a local and family-run business.

So now I will always favour caution when encountering flooded roads. And I will always remember to carry a towel in the car.

Michael Hannah, Broughty Ferry, February 2024

Always carry a towel in the car…..

2 thoughts on “Always carry a towel in the car…..

  • February 18, 2024 at 10:23 am

    What a story!! RIP your wee yellow car 🙁
    And, thank you for sharing …. of all the things that I would have in my (thankfully) large work bag, a towel was not one of them …. until now.

    And, I hope you are very thankful that you were wearing socks, and didn’t therefore have to go through the immense palaver and indignity of taking off tights!!!

    Safe travels X

    • February 18, 2024 at 10:32 am

      Thank you Gillian – I will certainly bear that point about tights in mind!!


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