DO you ever get that paranoid feeling when driving on the motorway that cars are flashing you?
It’s usually just your imagination – unless oncoming traffic is alerting you to a speed camera or police car coming up.
Last week it was different, because they really were. And I wasn’t on a motorway – I was at the roundabout beside Bell Street car park in Dundee city centre.
I’d just picked the boys up from school and was off to get them haircuts.
I knew something was really up when a woman pulled up alongside me at the lights, pointing frantically to the back of my car.
As I looked around, another man pulled up and motioned a kind of explosion motion with his hands.
Then I saw it. My boot was open.
A half-empty boot and a thoroughly mad dash
It’s been too full for too long.
I filled it with bags of clothes for Ukraine before realising everyone had been swamped with donations and had stopped taking them.
Throw in the kids’ schoolbags and blazers and it was all just too much for the door sensor, which had jammed, lifting the boot door automatically.
Finding a safe place to pull over, I jumped out to survey the contents of my boot.
With a sense of rising panic I realised the missing list included: one schoolbag, one blazer, my running shoes and goodness knows what else.
The only thing I could safely say was still present was the dozen or so bags of clothes, still wedged firmly together.
What followed were the actions of a mad woman.
Nightmare on Bell Street – a Dundee drama
I parked the car in the nearby police station so I could still see the kids as I ran across the road (it’s a very busy junction at that roundabout) stopping oncoming traffic like a deranged lollipop woman.
Then I remembered Chester never zips up his schoolbag.
At the roundabout, I found a blazer and schoolbag.
At the turning to Lochee someone (I later found out it was a friend) shouted to ask if I needed help, as I scooped up a pair of plimsoles and my running shoes.
Next, a plastic homework packet with diary and school trip consent forms was plucked from halfway across the lanes, at which point someone stopped to shout ‘are you ok missus?’.
As I was dodging a Fiesta, another driver shouted ‘what are you doing?’ but with a word in the middle that rhymes with ‘truck’.
The man’s tone was more incredulous than rude. I think I may have been holding my hands up to stop a bus at this point.
Finally I grabbed a recorder at the traffic lights.
It must have had a hundred cars roll over it by then.
I witnessed two alone in the seconds after I spotted it.
Recorders – and mums – are made of sterner stuff
Back in the car, my heart raced and breath was ragged as I told the boys everything was ok. People had been nice and I’d found everything.
They told me I didn’t look ok.
Then, as my hands shook slightly, I realised I was holding the recorder and it was entirely intact.
They say they don’t make things the way they used to but try telling that to the creator of this resilient recorder, which had seen off 10 Corsas and possibly an articulated lorry.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it was made in Dundee.