Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Thursday 8 December 2011


I was all set to write a nice inane little post about Christmas time in the Caribbean, when my plans were brutally scuppered by the unstoppable forces of karmic retribution. Yesterday I received a lovely email offering me money for CGI I've already done, which is always nice (this the second time this has happened). Coupled with my imminent return to the UK for Christmas, this gave me a warm glowing fuzzy feeling inside.

In this case the forces of karmic retribution took the form of a small oncoming car, which collided with the side of mine as I was leaving my house. The driveway from my house is steep, so it's very difficult to see anything to the right. So I've developed a paranoid habit of emerging just enough to see if anything is coming, then rolling back down if there is anything, and repeating the procedure until there isn't.

Most of the time, if anyone sees me they stop and let me out. So this morning, when I spotted an apparently distant, slow-moving car, I carried on emerging - an act of colossal stupidity. Because the car wasn't slow or distant at all. And my car's ability to make sharp turns has all the grace and elegance of a constipated sumo wrestler -  so I ended up on... ahem... the wrong side of the road.

In my defence, if the car had been doing the speed limit there would have been no problem at all. Alas, it wasn't. The driver tried to screech to a halt - literally burning rubber - but by this point disaster was inevitable. And so kerblamo ensued.

Fortunately my car also shares the sumo wrestler's remarkable ability to withstand large heavy objects colliding with it. It has a rather nasty dent in one side, and one headlight isn't working (the main beam, is, bizarrely, fine). The plastic light casing is intact, and the wheel is fine. Compared to the other car, this is nothing short of astonishing. For that much smaller car has a crumpled bonnet, a shattered windscreen, and generally looks like a wreck.

In some ways, there's no better place to collide with someone than Puerto Rico. For the locals are used to accidents and - by and large - surely among the finest in the world at dealing with people in distress. While I was fretting like a wet hen (do hen's fret when damp ? what about roosters ?) the driver was nothing but a model of jovial politeness. Long story short - I spent the entire day filing police and insurance reports.

What happens next in this particular saga, I've no idea (although I was assured many times that I wouldn't have to pay any money). One thing is certain : next time I'm moving to somewhere with public transport. Until then... home time !

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