The Professor and I were heading off into work this morning; deadline, my first lecture of the day, but with the certain calm that is induced by the knowledge that there is half an hour in hand. We were about to take the roundabout leading onto the A90, which is the big, busy road which goes up the East coast, when the P. let in the clutch, moved to first gear, and said, ‘Now we’re really in trouble’. The gearbox was completely dead, and the only thought which commended itself at that moment was, at least this has happened while we are at the head of a queue of traffic getting onto this damned road, and not, for example, during the first change-up when we were on the roundabout itself with 15 container lorries going in either direction. So we both got out, and pushed the car to the side of the road. Almost immediately, while the Professor was still investigating the front end of our stricken vehicle, I heard a voice behind me: a white van of a mechanic-ish tendency had parked on the verge behind us, and a large man with a red face and an even redder boiler suit was asking whether he could do anything to help. Within moments, he was head-down in the innards of the car; there is a sort of nodal junction between the gearbox and whatever sends instructions along when you move the gearstick, and this, apparently, had undone itself, come loose, or broken. I don’t know about these things. My problem, meanwhile, was my lecture; I excused myself, crossed the road (no easy matter) and waited without a great deal of hope at a bus stop on the other side, hoping like hell something would come along in time. What came along, five minutes later, was my ever-loving husband; the aforementioned saint in human form having done something jury-rigged to the gearbox which worked. We got to the University in good style; during the course of the day thte AA did something a bit more permanent; the car is into the garage tomorrow — with a certain ‘this had better be good’ overtone, since the vehicle had allegedly come back from a complete overhaul yesterday. George at the Garage, in whom we have placed considerable trust, has been a little erratic of late and has now, it or so we have told, sublet the business and gone off to take a motorbike round the world, which is the sort of damnfool things people do these days to express themselves. The caretaker management, somewhat chastened, has promised to look into it. But we were really bowled over by the sheer niceness of someone who would stop and try and sort out a total stranger on the verge of a busy roundabout. Let alone succeed in doing so. We have taken the name of the van, and a bottle of whisky will be heading his way.