A trip down memory lane

Mark Dinning remembers a car crash of a 17th birthday…

A trip down memory lane

I still think she was an angel, even if the police records later stated quite clearly she was actually Tina, from just outside Ashurst.

The night I killed Skippy was, like the nights of all good murder mysteries; dark, gloomy and wet (this will be important later).

It was three days after my 17th birthday, and three days after I’d had my tonsils out (this won’t be relevant in any way; I just want it on record that my parents made me have my tonsils taken out on my 17th birthday).

Anyway, Skippy was a car. A bright red Mazda 323 with a number plate that started with the letters S, K and P. So my mum had decided to call this car (this is just something my mum does – deal with it, the rest of us have had to) Skippy. My mum loved Skippy. And I mean really LOVED Skippy. Which caused something of a rift between us, given what happened next.

In my limited defence (your honour), I put forward three pieces of evidence: 1. It was raining heavily. 2. I had undergone surgery recently and may have still been suffering the after effects of the anaesthetic. 3. I am a total idiot.

It was midnight when I came over Quarry Hill, on my way home from a mate’s house. Yes, it was raining. Yes, I am an idiot. But, as that mile-long stretch of road unfolded in front of me, I knew this was it – the moment that me and Skippy were going to go stratospheric. Or hit 100mph.

We never did. Instead, I panicked and put my foot on the brakes. What happened next is chronicled, in really rather startling detail, in the police report my parents would receive in the post a few weeks later. The highlights of which would include – but are by no means limited to – three lampposts, two sets of traffic lights and, a little cheekily if you ask me, 200 yards of turf and 42 paving slabs. Somehow, I was fine.

What, you would be perfectly entitled to ask, does any of this have to do with Tina, from just outside Ashurst? But this is where she comes in to the story.

Music has the power to transport you so totally that it can make you entirely forget the present. That’s what makes it so good. That’s what made me think, for instance, on the Guns N’ Roses Appetite For Destruction tour of 1987, that I could wear a bandana and not get punched. And it’s what made me think, as Tina from just outside Ashurst peered through what was left of Skippy’s windscreen, as John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ played at half speed on my mixtape (the second set of traffic lights having dislodged the car battery), that she really was an angel.

I still think of you, Tina from just outside Ashurst. Of what could have been. But let’s not get carried away – it’s probably just because Glenn Medeiros is on the radio. Somewhere.
Mark Dinning is the editorial director of the Time Out group. His mum never forgave him.

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