On a very wet afternoon my husband and I were driving along England's ever-busy M25 highway, going from Doreset to Essex while on vacation. After four days of rain, roads were slick and grass verges beside them unforgivingly soft. And so, when a huge truck from Holland clipped us while it changed lanes, we went into an involuntary U-turn, ending up on the soggy grass sloping towards a ravine.
From there we rolled over four or five times -- crashing through trees and bushes -- to stop in a gully, which we were told later was part of Rod Stewart's estate. Not that he came running with tea and biscuits, but a good Samaritan did slide down from the road to help us out of the upside-down car, and call police.
How we ended up with so few cuts and bruises I don't know. Nor did the police, who insisted we should go off to the nearest hospital in an ambulance. A young policeman accompanied us, staring intently at me as I assured the paramedic I could indeed tell how many fingers he was holding up, and answer his few simple questions.
When he finished, my thoughts turned to a friend who had just returned from Thailand with the story of her disastrous elephant ride near the banks of the River Kwai. Joanna and her husband had decided the stumbling elephant they were on was sick. Rather than wait for it to fall right over, they agreed to jump off at the next flat spot on the trail.
Not only did they jump, they managed to roll clear of the poor beast, which then keeled over to crash on its side a few inches from them. Now, recalling our crushed car, I smiled to myself, thinking how I could top Joanna's survival story when I got home.
Watching me smile, the policeman asked if I found my present situation funny. "Not at all," I assured him, and went on to relate Joanna's elephant tale.
He nodded, looked at his watch -- perhaps to see if we were as close to the hospital as he would like to be with this grinning maniac on board -- then asked me seriously: "Madam, this elephant your friend was on? Was it on the M25 too ?"