Crash Test Edition 
The email I'd rather not have to write...
Well, it’s been a while. I have half-written versions of this email newsletter and the reason for that is that when I sit down to write them, there is normally something that has triggered it – either an event or a mood. Everything flows from that.
That’s probably why I have such a problem with explaining what this whole newsletter thing is all about!
However, this is one of those moments where it’s time to get back in the saddle and give you an update that fills in the gaps!
And it will be in reverse order. Starting with the worst bit first and, at some point, going back to happier times.
So, welcome to the Crash Test Edition…
This is a bit of a ‘one subject’ email and, therefore, a bit different to normal. It’ll probably become clear why very soon!
I’m not sure ‘Enjoy!’ is the right word.
Buckle up… no, seriously.
TRIGGER WARNING – This email contains photos of the remnants of my car.
Four weeks ago…
(Some details are being left out of this description)
Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet online recently – well, for about the past four weeks. Here’s why…
Four weeks ago, just a normal day, we’d dropped the kids off at school and had done a quick visit to a couple of supermarkets in the local town. One non-functioning Christmas present had been returned and one Lidl 1€ veg box had been bought, along with some lovely-looking raspberries and assorted fruit and veg.
Before I set off that morning, I had heard that there was a Zone de Controle at a nearby roundabout. That’s where the gendarmes set up a spot to stop and check people’s cars. It’s a very good idea, in my unpopular opinion. It makes sure you regularly check things like your lights and tyres (which you should do anyway). The way these things normally work is that they stay in one spot for a bit and then move somewhere else nearby. So, I was very conscious that they were out.
There wasn’t a massive amount of traffic on the country roads that we use but it was a bit wet as it had been raining for a bit and, with the weird weather we had been having over the past few months (which can be summed up as either drought or deluge), there was some standing water.
As we drove away from one town, I saw a car on the other side of the road. It had come around the bend close to the edge and the back had swung out and then back in and then back in and then back out. I said to my wife ‘they’ve lost control of that car’.
The next thing I know, that car had swerved across the road and was side on to us.
I don’t mean a few metres in front. I mean it was directly in front of us.
I slammed on the brakes and then the next thing I remember was my wife trying to pull me out of the car. I couldn’t breathe and was trying to tell her that. She has since told me I was just making an awful noise. In my mind, I was saying that I couldn’t breathe. My guess is that it wasn’t coming out like that.
Then I can remember someone stroking my head and telling me to stay awake.
I was on my side in the car, leaning on someone who was in the passenger seat. I opened my eyes and could see the smashed windowscreen. I was aware of a smell that was similar to burning or fireworks. Apparently, that was the airbags.
I kept asking where my wife was and was told, repeatedly, that she was ok. Somehow, I didn’t join the dots of the fact that she had tried to get me out. She wasn’t that ok at all - but she was out and safe and that was good.
Apart from the airbags and the windscreen, from where I was, the car didn’t look that bad. I mean, it was but not from where I was, on my side, in the front.
There are parts that I cannot remember.
People asking questions. One very weird set of questions.
I remember an awful board being put underneath me and then being pulled out of the car by the sapeurs-pompiers and then being put into an ambulance. I remember laughing when I was asked to do an alcohol test and being asked why I was laughing – and telling them that I have gout and had a pastis about 6 weeks ago but I doubt that it will pick that up.
I later found out that there had been 13 people involved in our rescue and a helicopter had been sent due to the injuries my wife had sustained.
I remember being told that I was being taken to a different hospital to my wife – she spent the night in intensive care in Brest. I remember asking for my mobile – and being given my wife’s, which had been destroyed. Mine was, incredibly, unscratched. I remember being asked where the kids went to school and worrying about who was going to look after them (this is something I never have to worry about – we have the best friends that you could imagine where we live. They have shown this more than once. And they continue to do so. And we couldn’t be more grateful for them all.) I remember suddenly getting worried that my wife had the house keys and that our dog was alone at home. I remember asking about the other driver and being told that she was fine.
The rest of it defies description or logic. The pain which is everywhere still. The questioning of what I could have done differently – I was later told that, if I had done the one different thing available, turning left, we would have been hit by one or more lorries. The questioning of whether it was somehow my fault – despite everyone reminding me that I was on my side of the road and driving safely.
Everyone deals with things differently. The one thing I am bad at is sitting and thinking about stuff. So, today, I am going to work. I am not sure how great an idea this is – I’ll find out soon enough! But if I think about it much more, I’ll probably go mad.
The important stuff
Mrs B is ok but in pain. Still more scans and things to come but she’s up and about. I’m ok but also in pain. I am told that the other driver is ok.
Everything else is details.
Stupid French administration
When you get signed off work, you have 48 hours to get the relevant paper form to your insurance caisse. That does not mean 48 hours to get it in the post. That means 48 hours to get it into the hands of the caisse.
Which is ridiculous.
Our lovely little Zoe
Many people who know about electric vehicles may know that the new generation Renault Zoe has distinguished itself by getting a zero-star rating with NCAP.
This is, essentially, the same Renault Zoe as the previous generation of Zoes – the ones that got the 5 star NCAP rating.
Now, I have had many an argument about this online because, fundamentally, the new generation Zoe is at least as safe as the previous generation of Zoe. But… NCAP.
NCAP changed the rules – root and branch - between the previous and the new generation Zoe and Renault did not add extra features such as lane assist (as an aside, I hate lane assist – it’s like fighting your car) which would have gained it more points.
So, having actually experienced a real-world accident in a Zoe, here’s my unscientific assessment.
1) The design of the car perfectly took the impact in the front and saved us from being crushed. The engineering that made that happen is quite awe-inspiring. Just go and look at that side photo again.
2) All the airbags worked as designed
3) We are in pain but we got out
As we now don’t have a car, we have to sort out another one quickly. Being in an accident like that makes you think very carefully about what your next car will be.
If we can find/afford one, our next car will be another Zoe. That car saved our lives.
So, what have we learned?
I literally don’t know. It still feels quite raw. It was only a few months ago that my breathing got back to normal after Covid a couple of years ago and now I’ve got chest and rib pains! By the way, VdM (Vie de Merde) is the French equivalent of FML!
I’ve learned that life really does have the potential to change in an instant.
I’ve learned that almost losing the most important things is unimaginably scary.
I’ve not learned that French admin is stupid – I’ve just had that underlined.
I’ve learned that, when it comes to it, Renault Zoes are fantastic little cars and that I miss ours.
I’ve learned (not for the first time) how amazing our friends are.
I’ve learned a million other things too.
…I wrote all of that two weeks ago. To be honest, as much as I am trying not to think about it too much, it is in my mind a lot and I’m probably not dealing with it as well as I am portraying. Still lots going on in my head and it’s quite distracting. I know it’ll sort itself out. Time. We’ll get there…
Sorry if this is all a bit self-indulgent. On one level, it is - because I need to explain it to help moving on from it. On another, I try to be open with everyone online and so I thought it was important to tell you why I’d suddenly gone quiet.
By the way, and I’ll address this in another email, I’m not posting on Twitter – possibly ever again. It’s become a cesspit since Musk has taken over and I don’t see it getting any better soon. I’ll keep it under review but, at the moment, nope. If you want to find a different vibe, I’d recommend Mastodon. You can find me over there by clicking over here. It’s like Twitter from years ago, when it was fun.
The next email will be more fun…
…as if it could be less fun!
Stay safe everyone.
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These emails are powered by coffee! Although, if I’m being honest, any donations for the next few months will go towards replacing stuff that the insurance will, inevitably, try to avoid paying for! If you feel so inclined, thank you! My buymeacoffee link is at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jamesmb