A couple of months ago I wrote a column about the pains of travelling to Wales with my children and husband. Well last week I took my parents and younger brother – in his 20s – to a funeral about three hours away.
I offered to drive. Because I’m nice. And foolish. But once the words are out, there’s going back, is there?
I’d spent a good few minutes deliberating who should sit where, weighing up whether I should let either of my parents in the front with their navigational impatience, or give my brother control of the stereo.
Anyway, it was taken out of my hands when my father announced with authority that he was riding shotgun. Well, what he actually said was ‘I’m in the front’, as I think (love you dad) that the expression ‘riding shotgun’ is probably far too colloquial for him.
Of course it was delivered with such authority that there was no room for me to introduce my simple solution of strapping the three of them in the back where they could entertain each other and leave me in peace. Hmm.
It was literally 400 feet before dad started.
Seriously, what is it about drivers who are older than you? Do they not believe you know how to work the brake? I am 40. I have been driving for 23 years. I have a long and established no claims bonus.
Dad turned a deathly white, clung on to the door handle, and took a massive intake of breath.
I solved this white knuckle ride, worthy of being a contender at Alton Towers, by crawling out of the road in first gear while shrieking ‘hang on for your life’. After three similar bends in the road, I think I’d made my point.
Meanwhile in the back my brother, who travels with the aged parents more often than I do, had come up with his own system of managing their bickering.
‘Round one, ding ding’, he said gleefully as my mother fretted about where to place her flasks of water and milk, plus four plastic mugs and tea/coffee/sugar pots.
When my brother then turned into a Stephen Hawkins-voiced sat nav, with comments such as: ‘You are not within the white lines, try again’ I was ready to throttle him.