At lunchtime today, I was sitting in Fringe Central, Edinburgh, doing no-one any harm…
…when Narin Oz came up to me and said:
“My mother says she is learning the secrets of life by watching budgies. She is sending me five videos of budgerigars every day. I am going to put my budgerigar in my car.”
“Where is your car?” I asked.
“In London. Mark Dean Quinn told me it was better to come up to Edinburgh by coach, so I did, but then I found out he came up by train. I love my car. I want to buy a Dodge Challenger 1969.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because it makes a sexy sound,” explained Narin. “You can hear it coming down the road. I hate quiet cars because you don’t know where they are and you could get hit. If you can hear the car coming, you don’t have to cross the road; it makes sense. I have three car stories.”
“Go on, then,” I said.
“I was really depressed one day,” she started, “so I went to Epping Forest in Essex. Loads of trees.”
“That’s true,” I said. “I have been there. I have seen them.”
“I drove into a bit where everyone does dogging,” Narin continued.
“I have not been there,” I said.
“I didn’t know that was where everyone does dogging,” said Narin, “but someone told me. Anyway, after I sulked for a bit, I reversed the car and smashed into something. I was scared to get out because I thought I had hit a person.”
“Or persons,” I said.
“Exactly,” said Narin. “But it was a tree.”
“So,” I said, “basically, the dogging part of this story is irrelevant. You drove into a forest and hit a tree.”
“Exactly.” said Narin. “I hit a tree.”
“That is not,” I suggested, “a particularly surprising story.”
“The other one,” Narin continued “was when I… I think God saved me. I am not a Jesus-follower, but I swear there was something odd going on… After driving from the movie set, I…”
“The movie set?” I asked.
“Just extra work.”
“I don’t know. I think it was Wonder Woman.”
“Did it,” I asked, “have a woman with short pants and a thing round her head?”
“I don’t know. I was a Turkish slave bomb maker.”
“Bomb maker?” I asked.
“Yes. I was making bombs.”
“In the First World War?”
“Yes. In the film.”
“Anyway,” said Narin, “I was driving home and I heard a Phwooaaffph! and then the ABS came on and my thing was shaking. The car.”
“Yes, the ABS light.”
“What is ABS?”
“I think it controls the steering.”
“What does ABS stand for?”
“I have no idea. But it frightened me because it never did that before. I should look into engines and stuff. I was driving home and it was rattling and I was on the motorway at 80 mph and I thought: I have to slow down.”
“Because of the speed limit?”
“No. Because my car felt weird and was making loud noises. So I went into the slow lane and did 40 mph and went home. When I came out the next day, I had a look at my car and a whole tyre was missing. I drove home with no tyre. I only had three tyres left.”
“Had you not noticed the car was lopsided?” I asked.
“No. I dunno how I got home. I should’ve died that day.”
“The third story?” I asked.
“That was even worse.”
“A fate worse than death?” I asked.
“It was in the middle of the night. It always happens at night time. I was trying to do a U-turn and turn back in the lane and didn’t realise I was going into on-coming traffic.”
“Did you not spot there were white headlights coming at you?”
“I had never been on that road. It was around Ilford in Essex. I panicked and did a little spin… Eeeeeeeeeeee!!! It was underneath a flyover around Ilford. It was horrible.”
“Yes, I know Ilford,” I told her.
“Obviously,” said Narin, “there was a lot of bibbing and stuff.”
“Bibbing?” I asked.
“Beep-beep from cars. Then I kind of swerved and then I hit a pavement and then the tyre went Phwooaaffph!”
“You are not,” I said, “a lucky woman with tyres.”
“You know what I found out?” she told me. “It was because I had bought cheap tyres. The garage man said: These are really shit tyres. You need better ones. So he gave me like Louis Vuitton tyres.”
“With the logo on them?” I asked.
“The equivalent of Louis Vuitton.”
“So,” I asked, “ever since then you have not died?”
“No. I have been alive. I have been alive for about three years now.”
And then, like Keyser Söze – Phwooaaffph! – she was gone, leaving nothing behind but a silent peach.