Yesterday we drove home. We took it easy, but still made it home in four hours not counting a half an hour stop at the Chieveley service station where Mr B demolished a Cornish pasty and I chomped my way through a sausage
roll. The West Cornwall Pasty Company always attracts Mr B especially as we can sit outside where he is allowed to smoke. It was a bit chilly but the sausage roll warmed me up...
Mr B has finally relented
and agreed that we should share the driving in future whenever we are undertaking a long journey. He will, I am sure, still insist on driving to choir, to cribbage, to Tescos, to the sea-front, to the bowls club and to the Sea Lane Cafe. These are short journeys,
after all, and it would offend his sense of propriety not to act the Gentleman and drive his Lady wherever she wishes to go. But for journeys to visit our Foursome and their families, for trips to far parts of the country - even, possibly, for Questers' visits
if they involve Serious Mileage, I am now counted as Proficient to Drive. This despite the fact that I earned my full driving licence over forty years ago. Mr B, you can tell, took rather more persuading than the Driving Examiner.
I do remember that learning to drive, all those years ago, was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I suppose it was all that hand-eye coordination, never my strong point. Plus there's my dismal lack of spatial awareness. My father
did try to teach me, when I was sweet seventeen, but gave up after a single lesson, returning home wild-eyed and white of cheek. Several years were to pass before I signed up for a course of lessons. With three young children and another on the way, it seemed
sensible to try to learn how to get from A to B rather more swiftly than was possible by Shanks's Pony.
It took me three attempts to pass my test. I still recall Test Number 2 when I drove off from the test
centre, full of confidence. "Pull over here," my examiner intoned - I am sure you remember that particular voice, if you've taken a driving test yourself. I did as I was told, bringing the car to a halt, perfectly aligned with the kerb. "Now close your door
properly..." said the examiner. I don't know why we carried on with the test, given that I was Doomed to Fail - but we did.
The other driving test I remember was that of the Eldest of the Darling Daughters.
Have I told you this story before? Ah, well, it's probably worth repeating. I'd pulled up in my car behind my daughter, still sitting in her driving instructor's car at the end of her test. In a bid to attract her attention and ascertain if she had passed,
I sounded my horn, waving frantically and making thumbs up signs. At this point, her driving instructor appeared at my car window to tell me that my daughter's test was still underway...
Oh, yes, she passed.
First time, too, despite her Dreadful Mother.
My trusty Volvo did all four of my kids a good turn as they were learning to drive. Mr B, it must be said, refused to allow them to drive his car, nor would he
sit beside them in the passenger seat while they were still learning but in need of practice. Oh, dear me, no - that was a Mother's Job, if ever there was one. I told each aspiring driver in turn that I was not there to teach them to drive, believing that
to be strictly the province of their driving instructor. Once they were reasonably competent, I promised tham, I would sit next to them in the passenger seat so that they were "legal" and enable them to perfect their driving. I thought I did a pretty good
job of keeping quiet - but the Middle of the Darling Daughters told me, quite recently, that she still recalls that I had what she termed "a fiercesome foot" on an imaginary brake pedal.
My Boy took me at
my word. He would insist on driving along the narrowest of roads as I shrunk in terror at his side. Did we have to take such hazardous routes, I asked him, tremulously, couldn't we just stick to the wider roads? "It's good practice!" he assured me, nonchalantly,
negotiating the Volvo between cars parked on either side of a street which was hardly wide enough for our safe passage through. He passed first time, too.
In fact, all four of my off-spring passed their driving
tests first time around, which was just as well, given the cost of lessons. All that driving practice, all those nervy journeys in the passenger seat, all that virtual braking with my fiercesome foot clearly paid off. I always said that there were three things
I wanted for my children. These were to put them through university, to see that they learnt to drive - and to make sure that they always wore "proper" shoes. Obviously there were lots of other things I wished for them too. Like happiness and all. But it wasn't
a bad set of Aims and Objectives for a Happy and Fulfilled Adulthood.
Now on long journeys Mr B will sit beside me in the passenger seat. He will wince if I brake too sharply pulling up to traffic lights and
shake his head sorrowfully when I play it cautious at every roundabout.
I, for my part, will be watching out for his fiercesome foot on that imaginary brake pedal...