The cheap car insurance nightmare

It's the time of year when car insurance companies are tested to the limits; car accidents caused by party revellers who have not heeded the "Don't drink and drive" campaign messages, icy roads and hazardous driving conditions, people anxious to get home for Christmas - they are all factors involved in the proliferation of winter road traffic accidents. But I don't wish to be the harbinger of doom at this pre-Christmas juncture and I would much rather think about the joyful things associated with driving at Christmas.

So, quite randomly, when I think about Yule-tide car travels, what comes to mind?

1. Chris Rea singing "Driving Home for Christmas" - Yes, sadly, I am of the generation whose formative years were blighted by a plethora of Christmas singles that somehow refuse to go away no matter how groan-worthy they are. Shakin' Stevens and Wham! spring instantly to mind and for the masterpiece that is "Driving Home for Christmas" the Rea-meister lent his dulcet tones to lyrics that included the memorable line, "Top to toe in tailbacks", a scenario that back in the eighties was not quite so prevalent as it is now. And so, this song has probably prompted many a long-distance lorry driver to start blubbing into his Red Bull as he ploughs on through the motorway mayhem trying to get his wagon home in time for last orders on Christmas Eve.

Not the greatest ever tune, but it perpetuates that thought of being with your loved ones no matter how far you have to go.

2. Meg Ryan in "Sleepless in Seattle" - Horses, horses, horse, horses. And if you don't know what all that is about, well you just don't know your Chick Flick Rom Coms at all.

Yes, the scene where our fair-haired heroine drives to her family home on Christmas Eve accompanied solely by her radio and some very dodgy festive programming, is a classic piece of cinematic schmaltz. She, and supposedly thousands of other American females, listened to the tale of a widower and his son, romanticising about his perfect, but sadly deceased, wife and the love of all things Yulesy; and Ryan falls instantly and hopelessly in love with him.

Rather unromantically, I beg to ask why anyone in their right mind would listen to a home-spun psychology programme on Christmas Eve, and why any man of sound mind would allow himself to be manipulated into that tell-all situation. But having said that, it was a Christmas moment that saw young women, including myself, weeping in cinema aisles, and had the makers of houseboats and fairy lights rubbing their hands together with glee.

Winter driving with small children - I was driving to my Mother's one year, just before Christmas, with my daughter who must have been about eight and still totally in awe of the prospect of Santa's arrival. We had just motored through the New Forest and rather than persevere on the A31 to Blandford, I took the B3703 that takes you straight through the picturesque little town of Wimborne Minster.

I've always travelled this route to my Mother's house, I don't know why, but I prefer it infinitely to the A road. Anyway, as we drove into the heart of the little town we turned a corner to be greeted by the most magical array of Christmas lights that I have ever seen.

The roads are narrow, the shops are small and full of traditional wares such as wooden dressers, china pots and Sunday-best suits for women of a certain age. The lights were simple strings of multi-coloured balls going back and forth across the thoroughfare; reminiscent of how I imagine a high street from the fifties would have looked. The lights stretched out in front of us, in the deserted little town and both my daughter and I gasped at their beauty. It was like a fairground with nordman firs on every other little shop, all a-twinkling and glistening in perfect harmony.

We drove through in what must have been a matter of moments, but the image of our matching smiles and a shared moment of wonderment warmed my Christmas from that moment on and will stay with me forever. And for sheer atmospheric magic, this scene has not been matched by any amount of Santas sliding down ladders, silent ding-donging illuminated bells, or twenty foot trees with haphazard light strings flashing frenetically in the gloom.

Well done Wimborne; you made a mother and daughter very happy that winter evening.

4. Boxing Day driving - And then of course there's the car insurance provider's nightmare; the Boxing Day dash with hopes and prayers that you're not still over the limit.

And even if you're driving safe in the knowledge that you only had one tiny sherry with your teatime mince pie the day before, you can't help but wonder about the driving habits of others on the road with you. How many are still feeling the effects of the half bottle of chocolate creme liqueur they drank whilst watching Star Wars episode 158 before slumping into a turkey induced stupor at midnight on the Big Day, you might well wonder.

Your cheap car insurance might cover you car for damage, your breakdown cover might pick you up if your vehicle fails, but if you are involved in a Christmas car accident, you are likely to remember the consequences for quite some time. And no-one wants to add that particular memory to a Christmas driving list.

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