Melissa Todd: In the driving seat

Behind the wheel

Currently I’m the only household member that drives, which is pretty infuriating, as I’m also the only member that drinks.

Pray loud and long to the great Gods of motoring that this is about to change, however, for son is about to take his driving test.  He should easily pass, for verily he knows everything there is to know about driving, particularly how badly I do it.

I have chosen to find this hilarious rather than exasperating, for the sake of my blood pressure. In contrast, the fine Mr Todd, who’s yet to drive anything feistier than a bicycle, is generous enough to ignore my defects in driving and parking both, despite my frequent insistence we walk the final mile to our destination rather than face the confusing indignity of reverse gear. Son scowls and tuts and aches to grab the wheel to show me how it’s done, while I ache for the day I can let him.

I am bad at parking, it’s true. I have to be bad at something, or I’d be too sickeningly perfect for words, and parking seems a fairly innocuous thing at which to fail. I’m also exceedingly bad at geography. There’s Broadstairs, where I live, and then there’s everywhere else, where conveniently the rest of the world live, a huge amorphous mass of foreign and other and not-Broadstairs that I’ve never been able to organise in my head.

That wouldn’t much matter, were I not booking a UK-wide tour for our theatre company, Hags Ahoy, through 2019. I’ve got 15 dates for our new production, Right of Entitlement, all of them in places that are not Broadstairs, yet despite this appear to be stubbornly far away from each other.

For instance, I’ve allotted us eight hours to get from Norwich to Cardigan, and five hours to move from Huddersfield to Glasgow, which Google maps suggests won’t afford much opportunity for peeing. Nor, indeed, will it give me a great deal of rest from the demanding squawks of actors, who are a noisy emotional bunch, and in a confined space over eight hours are quite likely to unleash my inner homicidal maniac.

I may need to gag them with their own cravats, if only for their own safety. Even so, there must be rules. We take it in turns to choose the music, and no one is allowed to criticise anyone’s taste, nor inflict bagpipes. There are limits to human endurance, and yet mysteriously God gave us bagpipes, and Mr Todd a passion for them.

Rocking and moaning myself to sleep at the prospect of this forthcoming year-long horror, I  indulge in a brief, hopeless fantasy that when son passes the dreaded test I could bully, bribe or blackmail him into bombing my actor pals round all of not-Broadstairs, parking them up perfectly, listening to their endless chatter, vocal warm ups, emotional outbursts, demands for green tea and attention, while I sit boozing quietly in Broadstairs, at which, no one disputes, I am champion.

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