Dateline: Minamurra, December 2001. The rugrats, the Child-Bride and I headed south to Jervis Bay for our first family holiday in a number of years. You know the kind I mean - the classic young family camping/sailing/fishing kind of deal. The Nissan Pulsar was handling the task of towing Lucy the Vagabond sailing dingy with surprising ease, especially considering that it was loaded to the gunwhales with camping gear for four.

I suppose I was asking for trouble when I turned to CB and said, "The Nissan's handling this towing gig pretty well, don't you think?"

"Don't say that," replied CB, who is, in many ways, the superstitious type.

"But it's true. I thought something terrible would have happened by now," said I, who is the pessimistic type.

We reached Kiama golf course, and I said to the CB, "If you don't mind, we're just going to take a slight detour. Remember that house I stayed in for that Writers' Camp? It's just down there. I just want to drive pastand show you." Drive past. Not visit, not explore, not even stop the car, just drive past. And that's the kicker. We didn't have to go there. We didn't even have to leave the highway. We could have just cruised on by. But we didn't. We slowed, took a left, headed east for Minamurra and the house we didn't need to see at all.

There's a railway bridge that crosses that little road, and because it's so narrow there, all east-bound traffic is required to give way to all west-bound. West-bounders like the silver Volvo I saw approaching.

I stopped (as required). I waited (as required). Then, being not only pessimistic but kind-hearted and courteous as well, I decided to give the bloody Volvo driver some more room.

I selected reverse. I looked in my centre mirror. Nothing, except my boat. So I began to back up, slowly.

Then I heard a horn-blast. You know, one of those anxious kind of horn-blasts. One of those horn-blasts that is always intended for some other idiot.

Then, like one of those low-motion kind of situations, I felt a shudder run through the car, and heard a vague crunching sound. And the horn stopped.

Confused (and a little worried) I looked again in my centre mirror. Still nothing. Then I looked in my side mirror.

Question, gentle reader: What's small, red, Italian and can hide under the back of a sailing dinghy on a trailer? Or put another way, name the worst conceivable make of car you could back your boat onto. With the driver sitting in it. Swearing in Italian. That's right - onto. Partway up the hood. And through the grille. Dislodging the little yellow badge with the prancing horse.

Lucy is no longer called Lucy. She now rejoices in a much longer, much more Italian name.

Now she's called Assassino del Cavallo. Look it up.

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