It was the peak of the petrol crisis: aggressive queues at the pump, people running dry. I stopped at a garage that mercifully had some, and stood at the pay desk next to a distraught man who was trying to buy a can to take back to his stranded car. Cans were sold out days ago. A sudden, comradely Blitz mentality made me take pity. “I’ve got a canful. I could take you back to your car and fill it up.”
“Let’s get this straight: are you a mad rapist or an axe murderer?”
“I haven’t even got an axe. Please!”
So we drove on together, I filled up his car and proceeded homeward in the drizzle. But he hadn’t closed my boot properly and it rattled. I got out in an A12 lay-by and slammed the boot. Whereon my treacherous VW Polo locked me out: key in ignition, engine running, lights on, phone inside.
I cursed all German engineers and vowed to complain – atrocious design fault, there could have been a baby in there. I tried to force the lock, then banged on the window with a bit of brick. Many, many cars sped past, ignoring the lone, desperate woman in the rain.
At last a battered van stopped with two girls up front, offering to drive me seven miles home for the spare key. We chatted: they said they were part of a heavy metal group called Rockbitch, on the way back to France with some furniture.
“Oh, would my kids have heard of you?”
“You’d probably rather they hadn’t,” replied one kindly.
They explained their free-love, pansexual communal philosophy, and regaled me with tales of nude pagan ritual performances, of being thrown out of several venues in Europe and fighting with a German mayor over their stage set of a giant vagina (“We told him he’d come out of one of them, and he was furious”). They related the workings of the “golden condom” competition, with audience participation provided, and how, by the lead singer, Luci the Slut.
So we picked up the key and they drove me back, we exchanged email addresses, and they invited me to their next UK gig. Which was, as so often in their eventful artistic lives, cancelled by the local authority. So, sadly, we never met again.
The children were half horrified and half impressed by Mummy’s New Friends and the Rockbitch poster on the wall. I hope, though, that they grasped the moral of these Good Samaritans: for during the half-hour I wrestled with my bloody Polo door, at least a hundred pious, pharisaical, middle-class Suffolk Volvos and Mercs had sped past not giving a damn.
There was karma in it, too: I took pity on the un-murderous man with no petrol can, and so Rockbitch saved me in turn. What goes around comes around, children. Attend and learn . . .
This article appears in the 08 Mar 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The return of al-Qaeda