So, yesterday evening I drove into town, parked up and competed in the last 5k road race of the year – the course is out of town, along the south coast walkway, turn at half way and return. Pleased enough with my time I jogged back to my car (a Nissan Juke) for the short drive home. I turned the ignition key – buzzzz! – no other reaction, least of all the expected comforting purr of an engine. Now, I have never been under the bonnet of the car in the five years I’ve had it. There’s no point in doing so as I have no idea of what goes on in there.

A few buzzes later I gave up and jogged home, not so far. There was nothing else I could do before the morning.

This morning I walked into town and tried the ignition again. Buzzz! Now armed with a few phone numbers, on the second try I managed to get a garage to come out and have a look. The nice young mechanic quickly diagnosed a dead battery. He quickly charged it up and instructed me to go for a long drive to fully charge it – and took a call-out fee of Ā£63.

Off I happily went for the long drive. Some while later I happened to stop momentarily, and the engine stopped. You’ve guess it – Buzzz! as I turned the key. The battery had NOT charged. Another phone call. The same guy again arrived in no time and got me going with instructions that I should go straight to Roberts Garage in town who would replace the battery while I waited. Another Ā£63 call-out fee.

With great trepidation I drove the few miles to Roberts Garage and thankfully got there without further mishap. Within 15 minutes I was off again, new battery fitted, Ā£129 paid.

The sheepish-looking offender

So yeah, a bad day. But now I reflect it wasn’t so bad in the great scheme of things. Yes, my negligence in getting the car regularly serviced had cost me money I’d rather not have spent. But I was surprised and grateful that the tradesmen had been so efficient and fixed me up without delay.

And here I am, sitting in my cosy seafront apartment, dinner cooking, football commentary on. The money is a nuisance but at least I had it. I have my health. I’m working the next two days at a part-time job I love and which, at this time of the year, entails little more than reading a book in between looking after the occasional visitor.

Had I not won the lottery of life I might be starving or homeless, sick, fighting in Ukraine with death a strong possibility. I could be a beggar in the streets of Kolkata, desperate to feed a wife and children. I could be on a flimsy boat in mid-Channel with fifty others, desperately seeking escape from a murderous regime. I could have been the guy found dead in the undercarriage of a plane which arrived at Gatwick from the Gambia last night.

I wonder, if asked, would others swap their bad day for mine.