It is a common fallacy that all women are bad drivers and can’t read maps. But there’s no smoke without a fire and usually a contravention to every fallacy. Indeed, I am that woman who gives all the competent Sheila’s Wheels drivers and orienteering experts a bad name – I apologise.
The distance from our home to the south coast of Cornwall is just over 270 hellish miles. I know this because we have just traversed precisely that distance to get here. I was delegated the task of driving the second leg, after a pit stop for lunch and a nappy change (for Baby-Bel). Clearly I couldn’t be trusted to drive the first leg which included navigating through the traffic treachery that is Central London. What Mr A also shouldn’t have entrusted me with was the job of searching for a suitable venue for a pit stop in the Good Pub Guide (2003 version no less) whilst tallying it to our route via an AA road map but that’s another story.
Half a dozen attempts to pull out of the pub drive later, my shaky control over clutch control seemed marginally more road-worthy. Thereon began the remainder of the smooth ride south; bar stopping for an interminable pause to allow the crossing of a herd of neverending sheep – like an insomniac’s living nightmare of counting sheep and certainly not helped by half the herd having dodgy limps. Still, ample opportunity to admire the scenic vista.
Luckily we managed the whole journey (274 miles) in six hours – one of which was the lunch reprieve. My leg of driving involved Mr A barking instructions to drive more smoothly (read less erratically) and incessant pleas to move into 5th gear (I prefer to pootle in 4th and would more than happily settle for an automatic – Mr A would rather walk to Cornwall than relinquish the control and manliness that is allegedly inherent in a manual). I resorted to falling into a sullen silence that would have made an angst-ridden teenager proud, and Baby-Bel looked a picture of misery straight from an advert for NSPCC.
I am a very bad driver and I hate driving – I can at best can be described as a nervous driver; at worst, a Sunday driver or quite simply a liability to self and others. Mr A insists I partake in the activity to maintain (read develop) my skills but the undeniable truth is that I am the road equivalent of a novice yachtsman chartering a Sunseeker on his annual summer holiday by the sea.
So it is perhaps with a combination of both luck and relief that Mr A relieves me of my driving duties on the homeward bound trip.