GHT, please may I find your wife's situation amusing? I would just post a whole line of "ROFPMSL" emoticons but don't want to be thought cruel.
Red Head? Isn't that also known as strawberry blond? I was very blond when I had hair, this most probably explains my having forgotten that, prior to going into the cinema with the five friends who'd travelled with me in my utterly dependable Morris Oxford VI, 4388DG, I unclipped the distributor cap, removed the rotor arm and locked said ignition component in the handy wooden cabinet the car had in its boot, fitted by its original owner to carry his spare parts and tools for use on the regular trips he made to far off European parts in the car.
Coming out of the film, we all piled back into the car and I put the key in its slot and turned it to the start position. This was always a "first piston over the top" starter, wet or dry, winter chilly or summer scorching, but not this time. So I went back into the foyer of the cinema and called for the AA (no mobile phones were around then, unless the user owned a Porsche, a set of braces and a Platinum AMEX card). The AA chap arrived in under half an hour, so far so good right? Er, no. Not exactly, the guy managed to remove the distributor cap but failed to notice the fact that the arm was missing, so he spent an hour scratching his head and then gave up and called out a recovery truck.
Half way home, some eighty miles into our journey to drop off one of the couples who had been travelling in the Oxford, I remembered that I'd removed the arm. Now, the decent thing to do would have been to 'fess up immediately and ask the recovery driver to drop us, and DG, at the next passing place where I would then refit the arm and start the car on the handle as the AA guy had flattened the car's enormous battery in his futile attempts to get the engine going.
Though it was my remarkable ability to forget things that had caused the non-breakdown in the first place, I figured that not only ought I to have remembered sooner, the AA patrol should have spotted the absence of the arm straight off, and as we would potentially have used a further £7 (around four gallons at the time) of petrol to get us the rest of the way, the devil on my shoulder came into play and said "stuff this, the recovery fella can take us home and save me some fuel!"
We arrived at the couple's home and I was offered a dry steading for the car for the night, where I managed - after a further five minutes - to "fix" the car and the remaining four of us then set away for home with the car's usual behaviour returning and the journey being completed in comfort, albeit with no lights on for the first twenty miles, to give the poor battery a better chance of getting enough juice from the dynamo.
I neglected to mention the facts of the situation to my travelling companions and they remain blissfully unaware to this day.
I found the Oxford's original petrol and maintenance book recently, which the original keeper had kept up from 1964 when the car was new, to 1987, when I bought it from his grandson, here are a few pages, note that the Oxford travelled to places as far off as Rome, Zurich and even Wales, which I still hold responsible for the very small amount of rust that had to be repaired in the Summer of 1987
33.3mpg average wasn't too shabby for a 1622cc B series car, the original owner always drove gently and I remember being disappointed that, despite my best efforts to beat his average, the car only ever managed 32.9 in my ownership!