Thursday, 9 June 2011

The good bunny

I was reminded of this true incident by recent news stories. Early one summer morning in 1976 a young couple was going down from Watford to the Isle of Wight. On the A3 road near Micheldever, the two-door beige Morris Minor they'd been conned into buying by a very nice (apparently) man started to steam. As they had a sleeping baby in a carry-cot on the back seat, they pulled over to the edge of the road. They hurriedly took the carry-cot out of the car, and then the young husband opened the bonnet. The engine was scalding hot. The radiator cap was fizzing like an angry pressure-cooker. Using a cloth, he gradually released the cap. The radiator was completely empty.

Of course, this was in the days before mobile phones. There weren't any buildings in sight. Vehicles occasionally sped past, but it was very early. They were bound to miss the ferry. Then a Ford Escort passed them, stopped up the road and reversed. An attractive woman of about their age, casually dressed, got out and walked back. "Can I help?" she asked. Having explained their predicament, she told them there was a garage a mile down the road and offered to take one of them to it. They gratefully accepted the offer. Leaving his wife looking after the baby, the husband went with her and got a container of water, and was then driven back to their car. They thanked their rescuer, and as she drove off, the husband said to the wife, "Did you see the badge on the back of her car?" She hadn't. It looked like this:
"You know," he said, "I think we've been rescued by a bunny girl." Presumably she'd been working till the early hours in Park Lane. Now, then, as today, bunnies were despised by men as objects of exploitation and fantasy, and by feminists as willing accomplices of male exploitation, and by respectable people as merely immoral. 

I happen to know this story's true because Jane and I were the couple, and the baby was our new daughter. We actually made the Isle of Wight ferry, and reached Jane's parents safe and sound. I bought some radiator additive to seal the hole - which helped but didn't ultimately solve the problem. So eventually we sold our liability. We never saw our rescuer again. I'd like to think she might read this, and hear me say, "Thank you."

I can't say I applaud the reopening of the Playboy Club in Mayfair this month after 30 years. I could understand Slut-walk marcher Bea Campbell's ire at bunnies as symptomatic of male exploitation: "dressing as Hugh Hefner wants" (Today programme). However, I still reflect, "Who do you suppose was neighbour to that couple stranded on the A3?"

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