Incident No. 6 - Policewoman stuck in Landrover
 
 Aerial photos of field
  
       
 
Below are 'made up' shots of the concrete road - trying to show approximate positions of her Landrover.
 
Please note - I am sorry that these are pretty rubbish, but I thought they were worth including to give a better idea of what happened. Sorry I could not use the same Landrover picture for each photo, but I needed to try and find a Landrover shown at the right angle to fit the photo. Also, this field has changed a bit in the last 15 years. The dip behind the Landrover in the 1st photo (between the tree and the hedge on the left) was much deeper back then. The fact that it was full of mud probably accounts for the fact that it has been filled in at some point to allow vehicles to access all of the field without getting stuck! Also, the earth/grass on the stream side of the concrete road is now almost level with the top of the road. Back then, there was a definite drop of at least 6 inches, and it was all muddy ,rather than covered in weeds as now. Maybe the concrete road was quite new back then? 
 
 

 

We entered in the far top left corner and she drove around this part and off to the right. The dip behind this Landrover was much deeper then. She drove down to it from the far side and tried to get up the slope towards where I have shown a Landrover. The concrete road is behind the camera.

 

 

The previous shot is off to the left. I was not able to make the Landrover dip down at the front like hers did, but this is how it ended up once the back wheel was off of the road as well

 

 

This is very similar to what she was actually driving. There was mud in front of her front nearside wheel back then, not nice weeds and grass!

 

 

She tired to reverse and make a turn back up onto the road like this shows. Shame she could not make it!

 
 A diagram to try and explain the positions of the Landrover in relation to the concrete road and the main rut that caused her to eventually get completely stuck
  
         
 
A silly representation of how the Landrover ended up over the side of the concrete road!
  
 
And finally!
 
The Incident
 
Luckily I made a full entry in my 'Stuck with Ladies Diary' straight after this event way back in 1994. Its a rather long story, but I hope you like it!
 
Here is the full diary entry:-
 

I was lucky enough to be crewed up with one particular Policewoman on a number of occasions. This was the second incident that she was involved in with me!

 

She was aged about 22 or 23 and was tiny both in build and height. Standing only about 5’ 3” tall, she used to carry a black document folder around with her all the time (containing the forms she needed for the various incidents she attended). The difference with her was that whilst everyone else put his or her folder on the back seat, or in the floor well, she used hers to actually sit on! This made her slightly taller to look at from the outside, but also made it more difficult for her to reach the foot pedals, especially if she was driving anything larger than a car.

 

It came to my notice that not many of my group of officers were authorised to drive the 4x4 Landrover that we had at our Police Station. This was important, because we often had to use this vehicle for any number of reasons, and so it was necessary to have as many officers as possible qualified to drive it. In order to gain an authorisation, officers had to be instructed in its use by a person qualified to do so, and then had to gain experience in driving it whilst under supervision.

 

Needless to say I was a qualified person. I ran a number of sessions to get more officers able to drive this vehicle. I realised that none of my women officers were qualified. I asked if any wanted to learn and the tiny Katie decided she would have a go. She had only joined my Group a couple of weeks before, and I had already had one opportunity to go out with her when she was driving before this time. Needless to say she got stuck! (But that is another story!)

 

The normal procedure was to take a group of three Officers out at a time and let them all drive for an hour each, in various locations, so that they got used to the larger size of the vehicle and its peculiarities with its high and low range gearbox. In particular they had to learn about the differential lock on such vehicles. Also the fact that the handbrake operated on the prop shaft and that if you used the handbrake to try and stop yourself, even if only going slowly, you were very likely to snap the prop shaft! They had to be confident to drive it down narrow city streets and alleys, as well as across rough terrain when out in the countryside.

 

Being as Katie was the only one left who still wanted to learn, I arranged to take her out on her own at some point in the future, when it was nice and quiet, with not too many incidents for us all attend.

 

One Sunday afternoon, I decided that the opportunity was right, and so I told her she could have her lesson then. She had not received any warning and so she was dressed in her normal police uniform of black knee length skirt, jacket, black tights and black shoes. This was before the days of compulsory trousers for the women officers! Most policewomen wore completely flat shoes for work, bearing in mind that they were likely to have to walk quite a bit on foot patrol However, a few had shoes with a bit of a heel. One Sergeant I knew always wore what I would call Court shoes with a heel of about three and a half inches (She was quite short in height as well). It was a shame that I never got to go with her when she was driving!

 

Anyway, Katie wore shoes with a heel of about 2 and a half inches, no doubt to try and increase her height a little, not that I was minding! She was quite happy to be given the opportunity to have a bit of fun driving around the countryside, rather than having to finish her paperwork!

 

I drove to start with and we headed out into the countryside. I stopped a number of times and showed her the low and high gears and when to use them etc. I also explained about using the differential lock that allowed the driver to secure and lock all four wheels to the drive of the engine. This allowed the driver to drive up a steep track, where one side was very muddy and the other was reasonably firm. Without this device, the front and back wheels on the muddy side would both spin and you would not have been able to drive up it. With this device engaged, it locked both offside and nearside wheels together and made the vehicle a ‘real’ four-wheel drive machine. Mind you, you had to remember to take if off after you reached the end of the mud, or else you could do some serious damage if you drove on tarmac or went around a lot of corners with it engaged!

 

I had chosen a field next to a railway line where she could have a drive without doing any harm. It also happened to not be visible from any road, once you had driven into the middle of it. The attached aerial photo shows this. The country lane ran along on side and the railway along the other (on an embankment). The other two sides were adjacent to just more fields! I had worked out that if Katie were to get stuck, only myself and passing train passengers would be able to see her, not that they could stop to help!

 

Even though she was going to drive a bigger vehicle, she insisted that she sit on her document folder as usual. Whilst this did make her appear a bit taller, and therefore allowed her to see out further over the bonnet, it did mean that she could only just reach the foot pedals!

 

For those that do not know, the type of Landrover that we were using had a pretty rubbish set of front seats, in terms of being able to adjust their position. She was not able to move the seat anywhere like enough to accommodate her short legs, made worse by the fact that she was sat on top of a folder as well. She started off by trying to sit further forward, almost perched on the front edge of the seat, but of course as soon as she started driving on the rough ground of the field, with its slopes and bumps all over the place, she was moving about on her folder!

 

Eventually she had to sit further back in her seat so that her shoulders were against the seat, and then stretch her legs out as far as possible when trying to depress the clutch. This meant that she could only touch the clutch with the top part of the sole of her shoe, and that her foot was extended as far forwards as possible each time she changed gear.

 

I let her have a nice drive around, going up the hills and down into the valley’s, which made up the contours of this filed. I also got her to drive along the side of a quite steep slope so that she got used to the capabilities of the vehicle. Of course she was not required to change gear very often, as we were only driving about at a slow speed, and so the leg reach issue was not too much of a problem.

 

After about half an hour I told her to drive to a dip in the field, which was quite muddy. I told her to stop upon the approach, and continued by asking her to select first gear, and to then drive down into the dip very slowly. She did this but as she started to come out of the dip to climb the other side, her wheels started to spin. Her forward movement stopped almost immediately afterwards and was not able to move forwards any further, even though she carried on trying to. She did not alter her foot position on the accelerator and so her wheels just span slowly round and round. She looked at me with a worried kind of face and said: “What’s happening, I am not going anywhere”.

 

I said: What do you think is happening?”

 

She replied: “I don’t know, I am pressing the accelerator but I’m not moving. Has it jumped out of gear?”

 

I said: “You had better check it. Pretend I am not here, what would you do then?”

 

She said: “I would dip the clutch like this, make sure it is in first, which it is, and then try to pull away again like this”.

 

She let up the clutch quite slowly and immediately her wheels span again.

 

She then said: “It sounds like my wheels are spinning in the mud. I hope not, I don’t want to get stuck on my first drive”

 

I suggested that she stopped and then opened her door to have a look, before trying again.

 

She opened the driver’s door and turned back round to her right to look at her rear offside wheel.

 

She said: “The tyre is all muddy, I think I have been spinning”

 

I said: “Try again and see what happens”

 

I had looked down at her legs as soon as she turned away from me. She had kept the clutch pedal pressed down, which had required her to stretch her left leg out as far as it would go, and also to keep her foot leaning forwards with the sole on the clutch pedal. Her skirt, when sat down, was just above knee length, but was quite tight across her thighs. It had a pleat in it, which made it widen out just above her knees. I saw her slowly lift the clutch up. Whereas most women would have had the luxury of bending their left knee to bring their foot up on the clutch, Katie was only able to bend it a fraction. Her left leg was still almost straight, even when the clutch was up far enough to make the wheels turn. Even with the clutch right up we still did not move! As soon as the wheels started spinning again, she called out “They are spinning round and round in the mud. I think they will start to sink in a minute, its quite muddy. I will then be really stuck”

 

I allowed her to carry on, saying to her “Give it a little more revs”. She pressed the accelerator slightly with her right foot, but continued to watch the rear wheel whilst still sat turned half around in her seat. Needless to say, it did not make any difference.

 

She then stopped and turned to face me saying “What now?”

 

I said: “What do you think?”

 

She said: “I think you are supposed to rock it, but I have never really understood what that meant, because I have never been stuck before”.

 

I said: “How do you know that rocking is what you are meant to do?”

 

She replied: “Because an old boyfriend told me that he had to do it to get his car out of a ditch, but I was not with him, so I did not see what he actually did”

 

I briefly explained what was required in terms of trying to gather some forward momentum with the vehicle, by repeatedly raising and dipping the clutch in conjunction with the forward movement of the vehicle.

 

She said: “I think I see what you mean. I will have a go, but you had better tell me if I am doing it right or not, because I don’t want to dig myself down into a rut, or I will never get out”

 

I assured her that rocking would prevent her from forming such a rut, as she would be continually moving backward and forwards, rather then the tyre sitting still in one place and spinning round and round making a rut where she was.

 

She sounded convinced, if not entirely happy that she would be able to do it (she was not a very confident driver at the best of times!).

 

She let the clutch up and started repeatedly dipping it and raising it as I had suggested. I only had to tell her a couple of times when to dip and when to raise the clutch, and she picked up the idea really quickly.

 

She could obviously feel the Landrover starting to make some progress forwards, as she started saying: “It’s moving a bit, I can feel it. I think I have got the hang of this now. Come on just a bit more, pleaseeeeee”

 

I continually watch her left leg moving from very straight to almost straight! It was not quite as good as when a lady bends her knee up when releasing the clutch, but Katie talking to the Landrover made up for it!

 

Although she was making a tiny amount of progress, she was not actually getting very far. After about 3 or 4 minutes of continually trying, she had only managed about a foot of forward movement!

 

She started to realise that she was not going to get any further and looked at me with a really worried look. She said: “I’m not going to get out doing this am I. I started off all right but I can’t get any further. I bet I am digging a rut now, because I have not moved hardly at all. I am really worried now, can I stop and you drive?”

 

I said: “You are the one who is supposed to be learning. If I drive you will not learn anything. I have to try and build up your confidence so that you are happy to drive this anywhere, but with you knowing its capabilities, such as where you can and can not take it”

 

She replied, “Well into a dip full of mud is obviously one place where I should not have taken it. What shall I do now then to get out, if you won’t drive? What would you try”?

 

I said: “What about reverse. You have managed to get up the slope a fraction. If you really go for it in reverse, you may be able to get up just enough speed at the start to use the momentum to get through the dip and up the other side. I don’t think the slope you came down is as steep as this one you have been trying to go up now”

 

She said: “Why did I not think of that. I am so blonde sometimes. I will give it a go. Shall I rock it to start with or what?”

 

I said: “No, put it in reverse and rev the engine a lot and then let the clutch up like you were doing a Grand Prix start. Do not let up, as you must not loose any speed or momentum that you can build up going down the few feet of the slope that is available. Whatever you do, don’t be frightened of it. If you mess it up, you will stop in the middle of the dip and then you will be stuck completely”. I thought to myself – no pressure put on her there then!

 

She replied: “Oh my God, I don’t want to do this anymore. I wish you would do it. I am half frightened to death”

 

I said: “There is no need to be. If you don’t make it you don’t. Its not a crime”

 

She said: “But I will hate it if I get stuck in the middle”

 

I said: “Why will you hate it, its just a Landrover in a field”

 

She said: “I have never been completely stuck before. It frightens me. It’s the not knowing what to do. Also, what if we have to get someone to pull me out. That will be so embarrassing. I have managed to get stuck in the one muddy part of the whole massive field. They will think ‘typical for a dull blonde’, and what is worse, you will tell everyone and I will be the only person at the station who did this course and had to be towed out. I will die of embarrassment. All the blokes will take the you know what”

 

I said: “Well you had better get on with it and do a good job so that it does not happen”

 

She said: “Ok, here goes, but look at my hand, it’s shaking”

 

I said: “Never mind that, just go for it with all you have got”

 

She selected reverse and started to rev the engine whilst the clutch was fully depressed (well as depressed as she could manage with her short legs!).

 

I shouted: “Go, go, go”


She let the clutch up in a flash and pressed the accelerator even more. The engine revs went almost round to the red mark, or so it sounded, as I was too busy still looking at her legs!

 

Her wheels started spinning like mad and mud was being hurled up under the wheels arches. However, it was having the desired effect as after a second or two, we started to move down the slope.

 

She felt us move and shouted out “Come on baby you can do it”. It was a really loud shout and I had never heard her so worked up that she yelled so much!

 

We slithered backwards gradually gaining speed, even though it was quite slowly. She kept the power on and had a screwed up face, as though she was very determined.

 

The Landrover reached the bottom of the dip and started to climb back up the other side. The bit of speed that we had made gradually disappeared but we were still moving (just). The engine was really loud and so I shouted: “Start pumping the accelerator now, leave the clutch right out where it is”

 

She immediately did as I said and really started banging the accelerator up and down. It was great watching her other leg do some work for a change and the look of determination on her face was fantastic. So determined, and yet so worried, all at the same time!

 

The wheels were still spinning with her working the accelerator up and down, but she was still moving, even if it was now at a snails crawl. I did not think she had got back far enough and that she was about to slither to a halt. I was therefore really surprised when suddenly her rear wheels must have reached some firmer ground because the Landrover suddenly started to grip and then accelerated away backwards. She carried on reversing for about 50 feet, obviously wanting to get well away from the muddy dip!

 

At the same time she started yelling, “I’ve done it, I got out, I’m not stuck any more, yippee” She was behaving like a little schoolgirl. She was quite red in the face once we stopped. I had not realised this before. It must have been a hot flush!

 

She said: “I did it, I got us out, oh thank God for that”

 

I said: “Well done, that was a great bit of driving. Now you know you can do it, you will have confidence in both the Landrover and in your own driving abilities”

 

She replied: “Or I could just avoid muddy dips in fields”

 

I said: “You could, or you could deliberately drive into one again, so that you can use the four wheeled drive to see what a difference it makes”

 

She said: “You are joking me, you don’t want me to go back into it do you?”

 

I said: “Yep!”

 

Her face was a picture. It went from sheer joy to sheer horror and disbelief in a couple of seconds. She obviously wanted to tell me to ‘poke off’, but as I was her supervisor, she knew that was not on, so she said: “But it has taken me 5 minutes to fight my way out of there. I was really worried. Please don’t make me do it all over again”

 

I said: “How would you like me to give you £50”

 

She replied: “Whatever for?”

 

I said: “I will give you £50 here and now, if you are not able to get out of that dip, once you have engaged four wheel drive”

 

I could see that she was not quite sure of me now! She said: “Lets get this right. I drive into the middle and stop. I put it in the gears like you showed me on the lane earlier. If I drive out I don’t owe you anything, but if I get completely stuck, you will pay me £50”.

 

I said: “That is correct. I am trying to convince you that I have total faith in the ability of the four wheeled drive on this Landrover. It will pull you straight out, without hardly any wheel spin at all. You will be amazed”

 

She said: “Ok, but I hope you are right, as I really don’t want to get stuck again. Once was scary enough for one day”

 

She put it in first and drove back right into the middle. She stopped and said: “Is that right? Now what?”

 

I said: “Try to pull away, just to show yourself that you are stuck”

 

She let up the clutch and her wheels immediately span round and she did not move. She was stopped right in the middle. I told her to try reverse and she span again as she let the clutch up. I persuaded her to have one more go in first, to prove to herself that she really was stuck. I told her to rock it as well to see if she could get out.

 

She looked quite worried again. I think she was convinced that she would be completely stuck again. She tried rocking forwards as soon as her wheels span, dipping the clutch in an attempt to get out. She was not trying very hard and so I encouraged her to really go for it, as though it was her last effort. She tried a bit harder by increasing the revs but her wheels just span round and round and she did not move at all.

 

She said: “I will be making another rut in a minute, then I will never get out. Why are you doing this to me?”

 

I said: “Ok, you can stop”. She turned to look at me and appeared to be quite cross.

 

I said: “Would you agree that you are completely stuck?”

 

She said: “Well I did not try rocking it backwards, but there is no way it would have made any difference. I am right in the bottom of the dip, so yes, I am really stuck”.

 

I said: “Right now engage low range and move the diff lock lever over like I showed you. She struggled for a moment or two but then managed it ok.

 

I said: “Right, put it in first gear and slowly accelerate, but do not rev the engine to much. This is where I keep my £50 quid. This Landrover will walk straight up that slope without any problem”

 

She said: “I would like to see that, because I know that I am completely stuck”

 

I said; “Off you go then”

 

She did exactly as I had asked, and as she let up the clutch she let out a small squeal as the Landrover started to move. It carried on pulling itself out of the mud, without a hint of wheel spin anywhere. She said: “My God, we are moving”

 

I said: “Keep it like that, don’t accelerate any more”

 

The Landrover just drove slowly out of the mud in low gear, and up the slope, right through the ruts that she had made the first time and back onto the grass in the normal field.

 

She was amazed, saying: “I can not believe that, it’s incredible. I was completely stuck and yet it has driven out as though I was driving on the tarmac. You were right and you definitely get to keep your £50. I was already thinking what I was going to spend it on when you were telling me to put it in four- wheel drive”

 

I said: “Just to prove that you now have complete confidence in it, I am going to get out and I want you go back into high range and take off the diff lock. Then I want you to drive into the dip by reversing back the way we have come out. Stop in the middle and then get it stuck again, before changing to low range and reversing out the other side. Make sure you are really stuck, both forwards and backwards, including rocking, before you give up and remember to change to 4 by 4 mode and to select the diff lock again”

 

I will walk away across the field and so you will have to do it all on your own.

 

She said “Ok, but are you sure it will work as well in reverse?”

 

I said: “You will see” as I got out.

 

I stood and watched her take it out of low range and then I walked away, as she started to reverse back into the middle of the dip. I was looking by the time she was trying to reverse into the middle of it. I was a bit worried that she might be able to make it without four- wheeled drive, as the far side was not as steep. However, she kindly stopped right in the middle and then tried to reverse. I had a nice side on view of her offside as both her front and rear wheels span round and round in the mud. She allowed them to spin for about 20 seconds and then changed into first gear. She tried forwards and they just span again, without a hint of her moving at all. She was definitely stuck again. This time she carried on for a little longer, but then she must have remembered what I said about rocking. Suddenly she started dipping and releasing the clutch up and down, as I saw the wheels stop spinning and then immediately start again and then stop. This carried on for about 25 seconds. She was obviously determined to make sure she was really stuck, before testing the four-wheeled drive again. I then looked up at her instead of the wheels and guess what, she was actually rocking in her seat. I could not believe it, as she had not done this when I was sat with her. I did not want her to stop as the sight of her arms, head and shoulders rocking forwards and backwards in time with her letting up of the clutch was fabulous to watch. All too soon she stopped and leant over, obviously engaging low range. She then sat up and slowly reversed back up the slope, without a hint of wheels spin.

 

She stopped at the top of the slope and opened her window and called out “What now?”

 

I started to walk back towards her and said: ”Have a bit of fun now that you are confident. Drive into the dip with four-wheeled drive still on and see if you can deliberately get stuck.

 

She called back: “OK, but I bet I can’t, this is fantastic fun, now that I know I can always get out”

 

She drove forwards and I thought to myself, what a difference a few minutes makes! Ten minutes ago she was petrified of driving back into the dip but know she can’t wait to!

 

She went right into the middle and stopped. Her window was still open and so she called “What now?”

 

I said: “Try rocking it in four-wheeled drive and see if you can dig a rut that then makes the wheels spin when you try to drive out”

 

She called: “Ok, but I will get out, you watch”

 

She started off in first. Because she was in low range, she had to give the engine quite a lot of revs to have any hope of wheels spin. I was impressed that she had already worked that out. However, she only managed a few turns of the wheel and then they were gripping again and she was able to drive up the steep slope and out again. She stopped at the top and said: “Can I do whatever I want?”

 

I said: “You can in a minute, but first I want you to try just one more thing”. I walked over to her and she waited patiently, and as I got to her she said; “I hope it is more fun, I am liking this”.

 

I said: “Just to make sure that you are completely at ease, I want you to carry on up the field and turn around, so that you come back facing the other opposite way. Then you can drive down the steeper side of the slope and stop again in the middle. I want you to try and reverse back up the steeper slope and spin your wheels until you are really stuck. You can then take four-wheeled drive and try again. This will make sure that you can reverse up the steepest slope, as well as make it when travelling forwards. Some vehicles are not as good in reverse, and so far you have only reversed up the easier slope. I am sure you will be able to do it, now that you have got the hang of it but I am interested to see if the Landrover is as good doing that as it is the rest”

 

She said: “Oh, it will be fine. I will go and turn around up by the hedge and then come back down so that I am facing the other way”

 

I reminded her to take off the diff lock and go back into high range before making such a turn, so that she did not break anything. She laughed and said: “ Not know that I have got used to it. I love this vehicle. I want to get one!”

 

She bent forward and started to select the higher gear range. I assumed that she also took off the diff lock. I turned my back on her and started to walk back down the steep slope towards the side of the muddy dip. I wanted to make sure that I had a really good view of what was likely to be the last ‘stuck’ before she reversed out with the four-wheeled drive engaged and we had to go back.

 

I was so busy thinking about all that I had seen, especially her ‘rocking in her seat’, that I did not take any notice of her driving away. I carried on walking until I was down in the dip at the side of the muddy section. I had my back to her as I walked and when I reached the bottom of the dip, I turned round expecting to see her coming to the top of the steep slope ready to drive down it.

 

I was amazed when I did not see her there. Instead, she was back at the end of the field by the hedge. She was facing to my right and was stopped parallel to the hedge, which itself was at right angles to the route she had been taking through the dip.

 

I realised that she was stopped but did not understand why.

 

I started to walk up the slope so that I could see more of the Landrover, as when I had been down in the dip, I had not been able to see the wheels.

 

With each step I could see more and then I realised that the Landrover was tilting down towards the front. I still could not work out what was going on. I could then see the offside wheels and was amazed that the rear offside wheel was almost off of the ground! This was because the front nearside was so low down for some reason.

 

For a moment I wondered if she had a puncture in the front nearside tyre, but the angle of the Landrover seemed too severe for that. A completely flat tyre would only drop the front down by about 6 inches. This appeared to be much more as the rear offside wheel was barely touching the ground.

 

Suddenly I saw that wheel start to spin. It went round quite quickly and there did not appear to be any mud being thrown around. I took a few more paces and then realised that she was stopped on a concrete road, which led into the field, from under the railway line. There was obviously a bridge that I had not seen under the embankment giving access into this field, as well as the gate at the far end that we had used.

 

The concrete road ran at right angles to the railway, adjacent to the hedge.

 

I stopped and watched for a moment, as she went into reverse and tried again. Immediately the wheel span round and round but she did not move. It was obvious that due to the angle of the Landrover, with it s front nearside dipping towards the ground so much, that the rear nearside tyre would not have had much pressure pressing down onto the road surface, because it appeared to be hanging down from under the wheel arch. I could clearly see the spring between the top of the tyre and the wheel arch. This is not normally visible when the vehicle is parked normally.

 

I suddenly realised that she was actually completely stuck, because she had not been able to move forwards nor backwards! I turned away, so that she would not see me looking at her. Up until know, when I had been looking to see what was going on, she had been looking straight ahead, or to her left towards the front nearside of the Landrover and the hedge.

 

I stood so that I appeared to be looking at the railway line, but was able to just see her out of the corner of my eye. She tried forward gear, and then reverse gear, five times each, one after the other, spinning for about 10 to 15 seconds each time. I was both over the moon that she had somehow got herself ‘really’ stuck, but was also quite worried that she had broken an axle or something disastrous!  The temptation was to start walking towards her, but I also wanted to watch her struggle for as long as possible!

 

Eventually she gave up and stopped. I then turned around and started to walk towards her. Her window was still down. She turned to face me and I saw that her face was bright red with embarrassment. I called out “What’s up, making me walk all over here. I thought you were coming back to have one last go”.

 

She said: “I was, but when I went to turn round I found that the steering wheel does not turn as far as it does on a car. I thought I was ok, and that I had enough room to get round. I was trying to turn using the concrete road, because it was quite muddy in the field just before it. The trouble is I think my front wheel has dropped off of the far side of the concrete into a hole, and now I am stuck”

 

I said, “Stuck, surely not?”

 

She said: “Yes, you have a go”

 

I said: “No I need to see what is happening first. You had better show me.”

 

She put it in gear and pressed the accelerator. Her rear offside wheel immediately span round and round on the muddy concrete road. The tyre was in contact with the road, but it was obvious that it was not being pressed down with the full weight of the vehicle, as it would have been if she had been stopped normally.

 

I walked around to the front and immediately saw the problem, and boy what a problem!

 

The concrete road had been laid flat with the field. This meant that you could drive straight from the grass onto the concrete without having to go up a step. However, between the road and the hedge there was a ditch or a small stream. The earth at the side of the concrete on this side did not come up to the top edge of the road. This was because the road was laid at the top of the bank down into the ditch. There was therefore a drop of about 6 inches or more from the top of the concrete to the start of the earth beside it.

 

She had managed to drive too close to this edge and her front nearside wheel had dropped off of the concrete road onto the earth. That would not have been a problem, had the earth been firm and dry. It wasn’t! It probably had to absorb all the rainwater that fell onto the road. This meant that it was really quite wet and boggy. Obviously nothing normally ever drove on this small strip of land to compact it down and so it was not able to support the weight of the front wheel. The mud was up to the rim of the wheel, where it had sunken in so much. There was also a pile of mud both in front of and behind this tyre, which she had churned up by spinning her wheel when trying to get out.

 

I looked underneath and saw that the differential box on the front axle was only about six inches above the concrete road. This mean that if she carried on spinning too much, she could sink that amount and then the axle would be resting on the road surface!

 

The front wheel was turned to its right, where she had been trying to carry on with her turn. It was obvious that the wheel was too low down in relation to the height of the concrete road to be able to climb back up it. Her rear nearside wheel was still on the concrete road, as she had not quite got round far enough to be exactly parallel to its edge and the hedge.

 

All the time I was looking, she was continuing to try to drive out but was just sat there spinning her front wheel in the mud and her rear offside wheel on the concrete road.

 

I told her to stop and suggested that the only way that she was going to get out, was to drive in a straight line keeping the front wheel on the mud alongside the edge of the road, in the hope that she could get up out of the rut she had made, and then crawl forward until the earth at the side of the road raised up further along until it was almost level. She said that she did not quite understand.

 

I said: “You are currently trying to turn back up onto the road, but you wheel has sunk too much and it can not climb up the side of the concrete. Instead of trying that, and making the rut you have made much worse. I want you to straighten out the wheels and to drive along in line with the road, with your left wheel still on the mud. Don’t turn to the right until you get much further along where the mud at the side comes up almost to the top of the road. You should then be able to gently turn to the right and drive up the small step back onto the road. Do you see what I mean?”

 

She replied “Oh right, yes that makes sense. I just hope I can get out of the rut. It feels really strange sat in here, with the whole vehicle tipping so far over towards the front corner. Its quite difficult to sit up right”

 

I said: “I will stand in front of you and indicate which way to turn the wheels and when. Start off with them straight and I will beckon you forwards until I think you have reached a point where you can make the turn to your right to get up onto the road. Watch me carefully because you must not turn too soon, or you will get stuck again”

 

She said: “I wish you would drive, I am worried about this”

 

I said: “You will be fine, just drive straight and only turn when I show you”

 

I walked so that I was about 20 feet in front of her. I turned to face her and stood by the edge of the road, so that I could see that her nearside wheel was parallel with the road and no longer turning towards it. I waved for her to move towards me.

 

She engaged first and started to drive. Immediately her wheel started to spin in the rut and she did not move. I called out to her to give it more revs. She accelerated a bit and slowly the vehicle started to crawl forwards towards me. She was looking straight at me and concentrating so hard. Her face was a picture of worry. The fun and laughter of a few minutes ago had disappeared completely!

 

She managed to move a short distance and I thought she was doing ok. She was only crawling forwards at a very slow speed, but at least she was moving. Suddenly the back of the Landrover jolted and toppled slightly towards the hedge. She panicked, and immediately stopped, just as she was starting to get to the less bogey bit! I went back to speak to her.

 

She said: “What has happened now? The whole of the Landrover is leaning over towards the hedge. I don’t like it”

 

I said: “I bet I can guess”, as I walked around the back to look. Sure enough the rear nearside wheel was now off of the concrete road and was also down on the mud immediately beside the edge of the road. To make matters worse, it was now in the rut that she had previously made with her front wheel. She had moved forwards enough to have travelled one vehicle length, just the right distance for the rear wheel to drop off of the road into her original rut!

 

I was now rather worried myself. I was not sure if she would be able to drive out of this, but was then reassured by the fact that this vehicle had a differential lock, for use in exactly these conditions.

 

I went back round to her and re-assured her about what had happened. I did not tell her about the rear wheel now being in the earlier rut! I explained that she would probably be ok now, as the rear offside wheel was now firmly back on the concrete road, rather than being partially lifted into the air! She seemed relieved and actually asked if she could now hurry up and drive on out. I agreed and went back to the front. I waved her forwards and she tried to move. Her front wheel started to spin again and she did not move. She increased the revs herself and gradually moved about a foot or so towards me, but then that was it. She could not get any further forwards. She sat there spinning. I called out “Try rocking like before”.

 

I saw her head and shoulders start to move forwards and backwards as she pumped the accelerator and clutch pedals up and down. It was no use. Obviously the back wheel was still in the rut and was stopping her move. I went back to her and said: “You will have to reverse out. Just keep the wheels straight as they are now and go backwards. When you are back far enough I will wave to you to turn away from the hedge and back onto the road”.

 

She still looked worried and said: “I wish you would do it. I know you need to decide where I should turn, and so I have to carry on driving, but I wish it was you”

 

I said; “You are the one who is meant to be learning. It will be good experience, because when you get yourself out, you will understand exactly how good this vehicle is the mud, and it will give you confidence should you have to drive in it again”

 

She replied: “I don’t feel very confident right now, and I don’t ever intend driving in mud again. I don’t like how I am feeling. I am embarrassed in case I can’t get it out and you will tell everyone, and I will have to face a farmer or someone and you will tell them it was my fault”.

 

I said: “Well it was, but lets not worry about that now. All you have to do is reverse in a straight line until I tell you to turn, and then you will be back up on the concrete road”

 

She said: “But I don’t like reversing very much normally, never mind in a field next to a ditch”.

 

I walked to the back and stood so that I could see both her nearside wheels. The back one was down in the rut made by her originally spinning her front wheel. There was mud piled up both in front of and behind the tyre, which in itself was down to the rim in mud.

 

I called to her to start. She did so very gingerly, only giving the engine low revs and obviously letting the clutch up very slowly. The wheel tried to get a grip and it started to climb up out of the rut, but then just as it was about half way out, it suddenly lost its grip and started to spin round. However, due to the low revs it only turned very slowly and so it was not able too get any further. She allowed it to continue to spin at the slow speed for about 20 seconds. I wondered why she did not try speeding up. She then stopped and then did nothing. I called out “Try that again and give it more revs, and if you don’t make it, start rocking like I showed you”

 

She called back: “Ok, sorry, I forgot you told me to do that. I thought I would just be able to slowly reverse back like you wanted”

 

She selected reverse again and gave the engine more revs, as she then let the clutch up with more vigour. Her wheel immediately span and she did not move to start with. She increased the revs and managed to get back a few inches, but all she was doing was extending the rut that she was already in, not climbing out of it. Once she had stopped moving backwards she continued to let the wheel spin, but still did not rock it.

 

I walked along beside the nearside as she continued to sit there spinning away making the rut deeper.

 

I opened the passenger door and said: “Why are you not rocking it like I taught you. You know it works because you did it just now”

 

She replied: “Oh sorry. I keep forgetting, I just want to reverse straight back and get out”

 

I said: “But all the time you spend just spinning and not going anywhere, you are making a rut, that is getting deeper and deeper. In a minute it will be too deep for you to rock out of and then you will be stuck”

 

She said: “Oh my God, no, I didn’t think of that. I am so desperate not to get completely stuck, I will do it now”

 

I stood by the open door and watched as she selected reverse. She looked at me and said: “Can you stand there and tell me what to do. I want to make sure I am going it right, please will you?”

 

I said “Yes, just go back until the wheel spins, then dip the clutch and let it roll back into the rut and then let it up again and keep on repeating that”

 

She let the clutch up and after a movement of a few inches, the wheels started spinning again on my side, so she dipped the clutch pedal and let it roll back into the rut. I called “And again” and she quickly let it up. This made her wheels spin again and so she repeated the clutch dipping and raising a couple more times. I told her to press the accelerator more as well, and then she really got the hand of it. I think she could feel the Landrover starting to inch backwards with each rocking motion. I said: “Keep going, don’t stop now whatever you do, I will push on the door pillar. You need to rock in your seat as well. We need to get a bit more momentum, you are nearly up and out of the rut, but you really have to go for it now”

 

Over the next two minutes she gave me one of the best ‘seat rocking’ displays I have ever seen. She held the steering wheel really tightly and rocked the whole of her upper body backwards and forwards in time with her clutch movements. She was an absolute natural, even though this was only her second attempt at it! She was obviously very determined to make this work. I think she had a real fear of being stuck completely in the rut, and that she knew that this was her last chance to avoid it.

 

For once I really did push, as I knew this was her last chance! She carried on rocking and slowly, inch by inch the Landrover made it a bit further back each time. She obviously felt it as she said: “Its working, I can feel it moving”

 

I said: “Try rocking it a bit faster and really pushing back in your seat. You can do this”

 

She said: “I know, but my leg is killing me, pressing this clutch in and out so much. I will need to stop in a moment, it’s hurting so much”

 

I said: “If you do you will need a tow, you must keep going, you are nearly there now”

 

She said: “Ooooh, come on, pleaseeeeee get me out. I don’t want to be stuck, but I cant keep this up” as she repeatedly rocked in her seat and continued to press the clutch in and out”

 

After about a dozen more goes, the Landrover started to move a bit more with each rocking movement. She called to me “It’s moving more. I am doing it”

 

I said: “Don’t stop now, keep doing exactly the same and get ready to turn when I call”

 

She suddenly started to pick up more speed and I suddenly realised that there was now another problem. She had moved backwards about three quarters of the length of the Landrover, with her rear nearside wheel having finally got up out of the rut that she had been digging. However, the front nearside wheel was now approaching the start of that same rut. What to do? Should I get her to carry straight on as planned, in the hope that the small amount of momentum that she had now got would get her front wheel through it? I doubted if she was moving fast enough, and in any case both her nearside wheels were still spinning in the mud, so dropping the front one into a deeper rut was not probably a good idea!

 

However, there were only two other alternatives. I could get her to stop straight away and then try going forwards. I would have to hope that she would then be able to build up enough forward momentum in three quarters of the length of the Landrover to get the rear wheel down into the deep rut and up the other side. I doubted if that would work, being as it would be from a standing start.

 

The only other alternative was to try and miss the rut altogether. This could be attempted by getting her to turn to the left almost immediately. The front nearside wheel would then turn away from the concrete road and from the rut, and at the same time, it would direct the rear of the vehicle towards the concrete road as planned. The problem with this was that we had not gone back as far as I had planned, to where the grass beside the road was almost up to the level of the road. This would mean that her rear nearside wheel would still have to climb up the step of a few inches, being the difference between the level of the grass/mud and the top of the road at this point.

 

I only had a split second to decide as she was approaching the rut with her spinning front nearside wheel. I decided on making the turn, even though it was earlier than planned. At least she would avoid the deep rut.

 

I shouted to her to turn hard to the right. She was reasonably quick with her movements, but she had obviously not expected me to ask her to do this quite this early!

 

She just about got enough lock on with me shouting at her to “Turn more, turn more” and then “Accelerate, go on give it more, you have to try and get up onto the road”.

 

She was not as quick with the accelerator as she had been with the turning and so the Landrover immediately started to slow, as the rear nearside wheel was still spinning in the mud, but was now trying to climb up the step at the side of the concrete road. The problem was that it was such a shallow angle. If the wheel had been at 45 degrees or more to the edge, I am sure it would have easily made the step up. But it was only just a few degrees off being parallel from the edge and so as soon as it came into contact with it, the wheel just carried on in the mud, with the inner part of the tyre sliding along the edge of the concrete road.

 

The other problem that caused her to slow down was the fact that she had had to turn the steering wheel so sharply. Had she been able to carry on in a straight line for a bit further, she would then have been able to make a gentle turn, which would not have lost her any momentum. However, having to turn so sharply, on mud that was really wet and right next to a deep rut was certain to slow her down. Not only that, but the grass was probably even wetter a bit further over towards the stream and worst of all, it sloped slightly down towards the water. This meant that as soon as she had made the turn, when she started to straighten up, her front nearside wheel had to climb the slight slope of the grass bank up towards the side of the concrete road.

 

The increase in friction from these factors caused her to gradually slow. Her wheels were still spinning but her movement backwards gradually dwindled to nothing and she was then left with her front nearside wheel starting to make a rut pretty much alongside the one she had been trying to avoid. At the same time, her rear nearside wheel was starting to make a new rut right next to the concrete road, even though the inner tyre was rubbing on the concrete.

 

I had managed to still remain alongside the open passenger door. I was therefore able to look at her face as she was driving. It went from a big smile when she had started to move backwards to a look of panic as I suddenly told her to turn, to then one of real worry as she span to a halt. She was very determined to not stop at this point and she continued to rock in her seat and dip her clutch repeatedly in a desperate attempt to get up onto the road.

 

Eventually she gave up. She looked to be almost in tears. Her face was very red and she had a go at me saying: “Why did you make me suddenly turn. Now I am stuck again. I was doing all right on my own, with my rocking. I bet I am completely stuck now and it’s your fault”

 

I spent a moment or two trying to explain why I had been forced to tell her to turn. I even made her get out and walk around to the front to see the original rut, as I was sure that she had no idea how bad it was when she was sat high up in her drivers seat.

 

She took one look at burst into tears, saying: “Oh my God, its so muddy. Look how deep the ruts are, no wonder I am stuck. I will never be able to get out of there. What have I done?”

 

I spent some time reassuring her that she could still get out if she followed my instructions. I explained that I wanted her to drive forwards, and to carry on beside the concrete road as originally planned. I told her that she would be able to move forwards because she was only in a small rut compared to the one that the front nearside wheel had been in when she had tried this the first time. I reminded her that her rocking was really good and how it had got her out of the deep rut the first time.

 

She asked yet again for me to drive but I explained why she had to do it!

 

I spent at east 5 minutes trying to build up her confidence until she seemed much happier to have another go.

 

She got back in and really went for it as I had asked her to. She started off by spinning as expected, but she was pretty soon up and out of the second rut and was straightening up to drive alongside the concrete road. Her wheels were spinning all the way and she was continually rocking in her seat as she made a few inches progress with each rocking movement. The inches of movements soon became more like feet and I could see that she was starting to believe that she could get out of this. I heard her call out “Come on, come on” at one point.

 

Suddenly all forward movement came abruptly to a stop. Her wheels just span and span and she did not move forwards at all. I had been busy watching her legs pump the clutch pedal up and down whilst slowly moving alongside her open passenger door. I too wondered what had caused her to stop moving when she had asked, “What’s happening, I am getting stuck again”

 

I looked at the front wheel and it was just spinning in a small amount of mud. I turned and looked at the rear wheel and immediately saw the problem. It had gone right back down into the original deep rut! By telling her to drive forwards, I had forgotten that the rear wheel would have to go into and get out of this rut. Although she had been moving forwards, she obviously did not have enough momentum to get up and out of it. In fact by the time she had stopped trying, I looked underneath, as I was worried that the rear differential unit would be resting on the concrete road, the rut was that deep! Luckily it was not, but there were only a few inches between them!

 

I told her what had happened. I told her to try reverse and to really go for it at top speed. She started off quite slowly, but then really went for it, slamming the accelerator down. The wheels just span round and round in the mud. Obviously the deep rut was stopping any kind of movement either way.

 

It suddenly occurred to me that she should not be stuck at all! If the differential lock was doing it job properly, then even though the two nearside wheels were spinning in the mud, the Landrover should be able to drive along, as the two offside wheels were on a concrete road.

 

I said to her: “You have got the diff lock on haven’t you?”

 

She replied: “Yes, I put it on like you showed me the minute I got stuck, when you were still down in the field waiting for me. I remembered what you told me it was for, so I used it”

 

I said: “I can’t understand why you have got stuck then as your offside wheels are on a concrete road”

 

I asked her to show me the lever. Guess what, it was ‘off’. I said: “No wonder you are stuck, it is off. I thought you said you put it on”

 

She replied: “Well I moved it as soon as I was stuck. I assumed it was off and that I was putting it on”

 

I said: “But I thought you had it on when you got stuck in the field and that was how you managed to get out”

 

She said: “Oh did I. I don’t remember, I just moved it when I was stuck up here”

 

I said: “Well, the bad news is that you have been stuck her for nothing because you turned it off in stead of putting it on, but the good news is that you should now be able to drive straight out of here, if you actually put the diff lock into the ‘on’ position. I bet that makes you feel better”

 

She replied: “Oh God, yes. I thought that was it. My left leg is actually killing me. This clutch is so heavy and I can hardly reach it. I will drive it out now, because I know that you will want me to do it for the experience, like you keep telling me, but could you then drive it home. I am not sure I will be safe, if I can’t press it down when I have to stop at traffic lights or something”

 

I said: “OK we will worry about that in a minute. You have to get out first. I am slightly worried because the concrete road is itself covered in mud where the cattle walk on it every day, and also your offside tyres are still muddy from where you were stuck in the field and driving thought the mud to get onto the concrete road. I expect that they will still spin a bit, but you will be able to get out. Just bear it in mind when you start off”

 

She was obviously now very confident as she said: “There is no need to worry now. I will get it out, you watch me”

 

She put the diff lock lever into the on position, and she had a laugh when I walked round to the drivers door and looked in and checked to make sure she had done it right! Her mood was now completely different and full of confidence! I reminded her to stop as soon as she was out and not to make any sharp turns with it still on.

 

She left her drivers door open as she selected first gear. I am not sure why. I can only assume that she felt that she would only have to drive forwards a few yards and then she would be able to turn up onto the concrete road and then she could stop and I would drive!

 

I watched as she let up the clutch, and I was about to start to walk off to have one more look at her nearside wheels, in case they did spin as she moved forwards.

 

However, I was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw both of her offside wheels spinning round and round without ANY forward movement. Her face changed from a happy smile to one of real concerned. She stopped and said: “ Are you sure the diff lock is on, as I am still spinning and not moving anywhere?”

 

I said: “It’s definitely on, as your wheels are spinning on the concrete and they were not before. It must be the mud the cows have left. It must be more slippery than we thought. Try rocking like before, that should do it easily”

 

I stood and watch as she let up the clutch and tried again. Her wheels span on the concrete and then she started to rock in her seat. I had a much better view of her in ‘action’ from the driver’s side, as I could see both her legs moving and pumping the pedals, as well as the whole of her body rocking backwards and forwards. What a sight, especially since still the Landrover did not move!

 

I was amazed that she could not get any forward movement at all. After a while I called out “Try reverse”. She stopped and immediately changed into reverse and started rocking again. Still the vehicle stayed still. As she carried on trying I ran around to the back and stepped onto the mud beside the stream. Both her nearside wheels were spinning round and round in deep ruts. The rear wheel was pretty much as before, with the differential unit still just above the road, but I was amazed at the front wheel. It had sunk into a muddy rut that was almost as deep as the rear one, and yet she had only been spinning with the wheel on this bit of mud for a relatively short space of time. I moved forwards to it as she continued to rock in her seat and let the clutch up and down. I stood right by it and realised that unluckily for her, this wheel had stopped right on a really muddy patch of grass. Just in front of it the grass looked much drier as it continued to climb up towards the top of the concrete road. She had been really unfortunate to have it stop right at this point, just as the rear wheel went down into the original, and rather deep rut. It was obvious that the two deep ruts were causing so much resistance that not even the two offside wheels on the concrete road could get enough grip to overcome it. If the concrete road had been clean and her tyres on those wheels free of mud, she may have made it, but I knew the game was up.

 

I walked back around to the driver’s door. I watched her slam it into first and really rev the engine, before easing off and trying the same in reverse. All four wheels just span round and round at high speed with mud being flung everywhere along the nearside, as she tried this one last desperate effort to get out.

 

She stopped and leant forwards over the steering wheel. I walked over to her. She had tears in her eyes again and looked like she was about to burst into a flood of tears. I was about to speak when she said: “That was so cruel. I was worried all the way through that I was not going to be able to get out, and then suddenly I thought I would be ok with using the diff lock. Now I am completely stuck again and not even rocking will get me out. I am really upset with myself for crying just because I am stuck, but I can’t help it, and now we have to get a tow. Everyone is going to know that I was the only one on the group that did not pass, and that I had to be pulled out of the mud”

 

I said: “Well a couple of things I can help you with. Firstly, I promise not to tell anyone if you don’t. Provided I can find the farmer, he will get you out and no one from the station will ever know. Secondly, who says you have not passed? You have had more experience of driving in mud than all of the others put together. You made one slight misjudgement on the steering circle. If you had done that anywhere but near the edge of this concrete road, nothing would have happened as a result. You did all the other driving really well. Provided you can show that you can handle the Landrover when we are back on the normal roads, you will still pass. Finally, look on the bright side, you have had twice as long away from your paperwork that we intended and up until the end, we had some fun”

 

She moved towards me and stood up on tiptoe and gave me a kiss on the side of the face. She said: “Thank you”

 

I said: “What for?”

 

She said: “Not wanting to humiliate me by telling everyone, nor for failing me”

 

I said: “If I walk and find the farmer do I get another kiss?”

 

She said: “Nope, that’s you lot”

 

I left her sat in the vehicle whilst I walked about half a mile to find the farmer, who was busy in a field on the other side of the railway embankment. He was quite understanding when I told him what I had been trying to achieve and what had happened. I asked him to ‘go easy’ with her as he gave me a lift back to the field.

 

He was really kind to her, explaining why the Landrover has such a poor turning circle (due to the front wheel drive) and telling her he would soon pull her out. I offered to drive whilst he did so if she wanted me to. Needless to say she did!”

 

I made her drive the rest of the way back into town and around the normal test locations that I used. She managed to pass all the parking and reversing tests without any problems.

 

I did tell her that she would have to wash the Landrover on her own, as I had made all the other candidates do this and it would have looked strange if I had then suddenly helped her clean it. In any case, rank has to have some privileges!

 

I kept my side of the bargain and as far as I know, no one got to hear about it.

 

Little did she know then, that this was to be the second of about half a dozen ‘stuck experiences’ that she was to have with me!