40 years ago Jane and I had been married for three years and had started a family, with our first child. I was teaching in my second teaching post at our local Catholic comprehensive near Watford. We didn’t have much spare cash, and had bought a grey two-door Morris Minor from a clearly trustworthy gentleman who was involved in a religious youth movement.
My wife’s parents had a holiday home in the Isle of Wight. Our new (old) car’s first long run was to visit them there. To avoid the traffic we set off very early with our daughter on the back seat in her rectangular no-frills cumbersome brown carrycot – there were no fancy multi-purpose buggies in those days and of course no M3. All was fine and carefree until we were well away from London. I think we’d got as far as Hampshire down the A3 when the engine began to stutter; and steam – or was it smoke? – billowed out from beneath the bonnet. We pulled off the road. The first thing to do was to rescue our daughter from the back seat before the car caught fire. Then what? No AA membership and anyway no mobile phones. And hardly any traffic. The only thing must be to walk until we found a garage.
I don’t know if we prayed, but at that moment a white Ford Escort drew up and an attractive blonde emerged, and asked if we needed any help. By now it was clear that the radiator had run dry. The young lady knew the road and told us there was a garage a mile or so down the road. She offered to drive us there. While my Jane looked after our daughter with our car and belongings, I went with our rescuer to the garage for some water. She then drove me back to our car, where I was able to put enough in to get us on our way again. (Subsequently we repaired the radiator with sealant.)
It was only as she drove away that we noticed the small sticker on the rear of her car. It was the unmistakable Playboy rabbit silhouette. We concluded that she was a bunny girl driving home after a long night on duty. I’m sure we thanked her at the time. But if she should ever read this, we’d love say thank you again, for an unexpected act of kindness in rescuing a desperate young family by the roadside. I like to think we met an angel in disguise that early morning.