A Cautionary Tale

We’ve had a couple of little day trips out in the Knumptywagen recently, in an attempt to benefit from the slightly more relaxed Lockdown Rules governing the movements of the British people, which alarmingly seem to include us, for goodness sake. Both trips have also involved a spot of fishing as a means-to-an-end and both have been enjoyable, uplifting, rewarding yet challenging in their own right. 

Given that the poor Knumptywagen has lain idle for several more weeks than originally intended, it has seemed slightly strange to re-familiarise ourselves with the rigmaroles implicit in setting off on a journey, not the least of which was navigating ourselves out of our narrow back-lane, now made even narrower by an overgrowth of hedging, which caressed (a softer verb than scratched, I find) our unwashed sides as we lumbered out of captivity and onto the highway.

And it’s here, as we bowled jauntily along the country’s still dangerously pot-holed A-roads, that a fleeting scene from a Woody Allen film came to my mind – and about which I’ve now been obsessing for many days. I can only assume that – after a long, Covid-enforced lay-off and in my role as Driver-In-Chief – my reacquaintance with the wallowing size of the van brought the scene to mind, since vehicles travelling in the opposite direction all seemed to pass with more perilous closeness than I ever recall. 

What if they were to cross the line? What if the driver cut the corner, or overtook on a blind bend, or simply drove head-on into us to relieve some deep-seated psychosis built up over the past weeks of Lockdown? And what if our overwide bulk wandered across the white line and clipped someone travelling innocently enough in the opposite direction? What if? What if? 

Oh, Woody Allen – save me from this unwarranted anxiousness! I became convinced that if I could just find the clip, it would purge me of these strange unwanted visions and sense of foreboding. As I recalled, the scene conformed to Mr Allen’s normal level of amusingly dry and visual wit and I’m pleased to report that I eventually tracked it down to his 1977 opus, ‘Annie Hall’, all of which demonstrates, in one fell swoop, how much spare time we STILL have on our hands during these languid and disturbing times. 

Well, dear reader, you’ll be enlightened to learn that within forty-seven minutes of the opening credits (and in a scene lasting all of 14 seconds) Woody’s character, along with cookie-girlfriend Annie (more than ably played by Diane Keaton, who else?) visits her family in the country for the first time. Here, after an awkwardly amusing ‘first-date’ meal, Annie’s brother Duane (played by a youthful-looking Christopher Walken), privately confides in Woody that he harbours a suicidal desire, when driving at night, to turn his wheel into the path of an oncoming vehicle – and thence goes on to vividly extol the gore and carnage which would thus ensue.  

With perfect comic timing, cut then to Woody & Annie being driven back to the airport. By Duane. At night. In the rain. As the camera pans across all three of their faces and comes to rest on Woody, we see his traumatised expression as he glances nervously across at Duane at the wheel, who is, of course, staring into oncoming headlights through the swishing wipers.

So, having fulfilled my slightly obsessive investigations, I’m now feeling purged, fulfilled, re-balanced and safe enough again to assume a seat behind the wheel and travel out in the wallowing Knumptywagen – where we might just acquire a handful more tales of derring-do to impart in due course. 

And the fishing trips? Well, they’re a different story . . .


    • I knew I should have consulted you – it took me ages to track it down! A) I thought it was in black & white and B) was convinced it was a three-shot with Woody sandwiched between two hunky backwoods guys – so I hadn’t considered Annie Hall W as a candidate!


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