By Diana E Backhouse
That damned sat-nav!
If it hadn’t been for BONGO – yes, you heard right:–B.O.N.G.O.–British On-road
NaviGational Objective. Well, if it hadn’t been for that blasted sat-nav, I wouldn’t be
about to go into court and it wouldn’t be appearing as the prime exhibit.
Sorry, I’m jumping ahead a bit. I better start at the beginning.
I had just got my 1965 Mk III Austin Healey back on the road after a lengthy and very
expensive restoration when, on the Monday morning, the postman arrived with an
unexpected parcel. I didn’t know who or where it came from, and I still don’t know to
this day. Anyway, the parcel was clearly addressed to me and I’ve never been one to
turn down a freebie.
On opening it, I found a flashy satellite-navigation box with the letters B.O.N.G.O.
emblazoned in gold all over it. I’d never heard of the make before, but the enclosed
leaflet informed me what the letters stood for and gave instructions, albeit in Pidgin
English, as to how to set it up. I decided to give it a go. Now I wish I’d stuck to the
1965 ordinance-survey map that I’d picked up at a car-boot sale. That, at least, was
contemporary with my Pride and Joy.
From the off, BONGO led me a right old dance. The blooming thing took me along
ridiculously narrow roads and through deep fords, which played havoc with the
newly-restored braking-system. Once, it actually took me along a farm track, where I
got stuck in a muddy yard. I had to be pulled out by tractor and returned to the main
road, which left me fifty quid out of pocket. Well, I suppose that farmers have been
encouraged to diversify, haven’t they?
On the day in question, I set off to meet my fiancée at the airport. She was returning
from a three-week business trip in Europe, and I looked forward to showing off my
newly-restored roadster. I’d never been to this particular airport before so decided to
put my trust totally in BONGO. I should have known better from my previous jaunts.
What an utter fool I was, for that dratted object was to lead me well and truly up the
garden path. Yes, literally, up a very long garden path into the depths of the forest and
into the worst day of my thirty-two-year-long life.
I set off in high spirits in the bright sunshine which glinted on the highly-polished
chrome of my beautiful sports-car. She purred along the dual-carriageway, the
exhilaration of the wind blowing through my hair and the thought of seeing Isabelle
again, after three weeks separation, sent shivers of pleasure down my spine. But the
pleasure was to be short-lived.
Following BONGO’s instructions, I turned off the main road onto narrower and more
winding roads until, at last the sat-nav’s directions took me through a large and rather
impressive gateway and up what appeared to be an endless drive. I could have kicked
myself for not taking the map as back-up for I was now solely at the mercy of
technology and totally lost.
The drive passed through parkland then through an avenue of trees, passing what
appeared to be long-overgrown gardens. I veered round what I presumed to be a
walled garden into a wooded area, the narrow roadway flanked by rhododendrons in
full bloom. The trees became denser, cutting out all daylight, and then the road
I stopped the car to put up the hood as it turned chilly and, as I did so, I thought I
could see a glimmer of light somewhere ahead. Like a moth attracted to lamp-light, I
was drawn towards this small beam. I also had the distinct impression that I could
smell smoke, maybe from the chimney of a house. I stepped a short way into the trees,
hoping to get sight of a dwelling and then, perhaps, I would see someone who could
give me directions. As soon as I set foot in that forest, my nightmare began.
Briars caught at my clothing. I stumbled amongst the thick layer of rotting leaves and
I soon lost all sense of direction. The trees were so dense that, for quite a while, I lost
sight of that glimmer of light although I could still smell smoke. From time to time I
caught glimpses of creatures’ eyes on the ground and in the trees. I had no idea
whether the animals posed a danger or whether they were as frightened as me. I
became increasingly scared, but this feeling of horror was nothing to what I felt on
surveying the macabre scene that was to greet me as I finally reached the house.
The smoke was not from the chimneys of a home but from the smouldering heap
where a house had once stood. The occupants had not died in the fire that had
obviously been started to hide the evidence of the wholesale slaughter which had
taken place. I cannot begin to describe what I saw although I’m sure, once in the
court-room, every sickening detail will have to be recalled. After I had brought up a
weeks-worth of meals and what felt like half my guts, I shook myself into some sort
of action. I decided that I had to go for help, although the victims of this dastardly
crime were way beyond any help that I, or anyone else, could give.
I had no idea in which direction my car was parked and I’d foolishly left my mobile in
it. I started running but found this impossible in the dense undergrowth, so I ended up
walking, or at least stumbling, through the forest for what seemed like days, finally
blundering straight into the police. I was hand-cuffed and pushed into the police van
next to a very unsavoury character.
As if the events of the last few hours had not been enough, I was now driven off and
thrown, rather unceremoniously, into a police cell. After what appeared to be hours,
most of which I spent in a bewildered daze, I was eventually set free and allowed to
sink into the welcoming arms of Isabelle. She had made her own way home and had
somehow, I didn’t know how, found out what had happened to me. I was so relieved
to be reunited with her, although I was soon to learn that the other love of my life was
beyond reach and totally beyond redemption.
Apparently the three evil men who had robbed and murdered the inhabitants of the
forest home, had fled. One of them had fallen by the wayside – the nasty-looking
character that had shared my transport to the police station. The other two had
found my car, in which they had made their escape, but they hadn’t bargained for
BONGO! That dastardly sat-nav had guided them to the coast and straight over the
cliffs. Their bodies had been recovered along with a substantial quantity of valuables.
Unfortunately, the divers had been unable to recover my car but BONGO had been
returned to dry land and was now, along with me, facing our fifteen minutes of fame
as the chief witness for the prosecution and Exhibit A.
There are two things which I am going to do as soon as this is over. I am going to
marry my beautiful fiancée, Isabelle, but before that I am going to sell a certain
satellite navigation instrument on e-bay.
Diana can often be found prowling the corridors of the 6S website.