Jessica is right, of course. Referring to the car as ‘mine’ now she’s passed her driving test is ridiculous. And it’s selfish as well. ‘Ours’ would be OK, but… well, that’s just silly isn’t it? Cars are never shared. ‘Jessica’s car’ sounds so much more sensible.
That’s why I was so lucky on Friday. Jessica didn’t need it. I was allowed to borrow my – sorry, my daughter’s – car for the day. “Just make sure you take care of it, that’s all,” she said as I left for work. “And no speeding. No coasting up to traffic lights in neutral either.”
And what a lovely day I had. I could go where I wanted. When I wanted. No having to beg people for a lift…
Those of you who read The Driving Lesson will know that relations between father and daughter had been a tad strained. The only time I took Jessica out it ended in slamming doors and bitter recriminations. But two weeks later she passed her test. And she wasn’t slow to point out what good news that was for me.
“It’s an ideal solution, Dad. Passing my test is great news for your fitness. I can drop you at work. Take the car to school and you walk home.”
As it was mid-February walking home didn’t seem such an attractive option. Then again, Spring was just around the corner. Not long and I’d be reaching for my shorts. And finding – yet again – that they’d mysteriously shrunk while they’d been hibernating in the wardrobe.
“You can walk home every day, Dad. You might even discover your waistline again.”
I ignored the barb. “Go on then. We’ll try it tomorrow.”
“Keep calm, keep quiet,” were my wife’s final words the next morning. “You don’t want it to be like last time.”
No I didn’t. And in fairness, Jessica was much improved. “I’m really good aren’t I, Dad?”
“Yes, darling,” I said hesitantly. “Just mind that bus…”
We came to a roundabout. Jessica hurtled across, narrowly avoiding White Van Man and taking several years off my life expectancy.
“Hell’s bells, Jessica!”
“He wasn’t signalling.”
“I know he wasn’t. But you could tell from his position on the road he was turning right.”
“Well he should have been signalling. He’s an idiot.”
I explained to my daughter that a) people often didn’t signal and b) a large number of road users weren’t even good enough to be filed under ‘idiot.’
“I know it’s a cliché,” I said. “But you’ve passed your test: now you need to learn to drive.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said. “I already know how to drive. And I’m way better than you.”
What is it with teenagers? Like every other 17 year old who’s just passed Jessica is now the self-appointed Best Driver in the World. Years of experience? All they do is turn you into an old man in the wrong lane.
Meanwhile there was another crisis. “The sun’s too bright. And it’s too low at this time in the morning.”
“I’ll have a word with God. I’m sure He’ll sort it out for you.”
“Don’t be facetious, Dad. You’ll have to buy me some new sunglasses for driving.” Of course. Why hadn’t I realised? And that night there was something wrong with the radio. “My iPhone isn’t playing properly through the speakers.”
I nearly suggested that avoiding White Van Man was a higher priority than Lily Allen and McFly. But I didn’t. Because Jane had pointed something out. Tom’s back from university in two weeks. “And he’ll need the car to go to job interviews.”
Oh dear. Tensions could run a little high…
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