A bold bid for freedom

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

So I was sitting in the car eating my lunch last week when I heard this loud jangling, clattering noise behind me and swivelled around to see what was going on. Obviously, it was a shopping trolly – no great surprise in a supermarket car park. But this was no ordinary shopping trolly.

This one had gone rogue.

It emerged from the empty space between two parked cars with all the serene inevitability of a cruise liner leaving its berth. It was empty, and no-one was pushing it. The car park slopes down to one corner from the store and this trolly was off on an incredible journey all by itself.

It wasn't a big trolly – more one of those medium-sized ones the stores provide as a compromise between the basket you'd choose for the handful of items you actually came for, and the Titanic-sized one they'd rather you used because they know you wouldn't be able to stop yourself filling it. No, it wasn't big, but it was determined.

It rattled across the roadway and buried its nose in a flower bed. This would have stopped a lesser trolly in its tracks, but this one wasn't giving in that easily. Although the nose had stopped, the back continued sideways downhill and its momentum freed the other end. When the back caught a moment later, the nose had sufficient speed up to break it free for good. It now had nothing in front of it apart from clear, sloping tarmac, all the way to the far corner of the car park, about 30 yards away.

And in that corner was an expensive shiny silver Mercedes-Benz, parked all unaware like a whale waiting to be harpooned.

The trolley hit it broadside-on with a hollow clunk, then spun along its side before coming to rest against a front tyre. For a moment, nothing happened.

Then, out of nowhere, a stocky little beetle-browed man in an Arsenal FC tracksuit top appeared by the Merc. His expression defied easy description, but combined horror, anger and sheer baffled disbelief. He didn't say anything – no shouting or ranting – but instead swivelled around continually, mouth opening and closing, as if he was searching for someone to unload on. Which he probably was. There was not a person to be seen in the car park.

I finished my sandwich and drove off, taking a detour to pass by the Merc for a closer look. The dent in the car door was magnificent, the little man still apolplectic as he searched silently, mouth working furiously, for the force of nature that had thrown a shopping trolly at his precious car.

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I'm Andy Darley. Sometimes I want to say things. This is where I do it.