If you must put yourself between a) a car rolling down a hill and b) a cliff, there are two things you must always do. First, check that the car is rolling VERY slowly. Second, make sure the "cliff" is only six or seven feet deep.
Even then, I wouldn't recommend it. Been there, done that, so I know what I'm yarning on about.
Patrick and I have known each other since we were about six years old. We must have been about seventeen years old when the car-and-cliff incident took place. At that stage I still lived in India and every January our families used to drive out to the forests and national parks in neighbouring Bihar. They were exhilarating trips in the bracing cold of an Indian winter, down the historic, centuries-old Grand Trunk Road, leaving the city life far behind.
This was tiger country. One of our havens was Hazaribagh, which literally means ``a thousand tigers''. The air smelled different. The outdoors smelled different. And the food ... yes, the food smelled different. The smell of fried eggs and bacon reminds me of the hearty breakfasts we used to have out in the open, in the forest clearing that fringed the jungle cottages, far from civilisation.
We didn't go to there expecting to be at the Hilton. There was no power, so we used hurricane lamps. There was no heating, so we used log fires. There was no gas, so our parents cooked enough food to feed an army - on portable stoves. You want me to describe holiday heaven - that was it.
One morning, Patrick and I were sitting outside one of our cottages, each of us savouring a plate of fried eggs and rashers of bacon. To this day, I cannot tell you who noticed it first, but we suddenly realised my uncle's car, a Fiat 1100 D, was rolling slowly downhill from where it had been parked.
Fright? Naaaah, there was no time for fright. Believe me, mate, there was no time to think.
Because we had our mouths full of breakfast, it was not possible to discuss our next move. This was where instinct had to take over. We were young. We were fit. We were supremely confident. Maybe too confident.
The adults were not in sight. It was just the two of us who had to react immediately if the car was to be saved. We didn't have the keys, so there was no chance of opening the driver's door and hitting the brakes. Instinctively, we both jumped up, sprinted over to the car and positioned ourselves between the sliding car and the edge.
There was loose gravel on the slope and we dug our heels into it. Not the smartest or the safest thing to do, I know. But it worked. To be honest, though, if the tactic hadn't worked we could have still jumped out of the way. We then yelled at the top of our voices to the adults, who quickly opened the car, started it up and drove it forward to safety.
We still laugh about the way we reacted that day, all those years ago. And we still shake our heads about one other thing - all through that drama, we were still clutching our plates in our hands. And we hadn't dropped anything. You never drop fried eggs. Ever.