My Yorkshire husband may drive like a bat out of hell but Meatloaf isn't allowed in the car – Susan Morrison
We have very different demands when we drive, he and I. Years of late-night, long-distance drives have led me to require certain little comforts.
Audible books are a must. Journeys between Glasgow, Newcastle or Leeds have all been enlightened by blow-by-blow accounts of the origins of the Wars of the Roses, biographies of 16th-century French queens or every episode of the Radio Four comedy Cabin Pressure (do yourself a favour, find it and listen. Benedict Cumberbatch, Roger Allam, Stephanie Cole and John Finnemore, the world’s happiest idiot. Thank me later).
If I find myself wearying, I change the listening to Meatloaf and sing along. Bat out of Hell has always got me safely home. I developed these listening habits when we could only afford bangers. It meant I could ignore whatever mysterious noises were emanating from the knackered engines of battered Fords and Renaults.
For years, my vital question at car purchase time was “never mind the mileage, does the audio work?” And does the heating work? Also very important. We used to drive an ancient blue Citroen with a dodgy heater. We had to dress like First World War fighter aces in the winter. And then the heating would spontaneously kick in, and we’d arrive sweating like sumo wrestlers in a sauna.
There must be sound, there must be warmth and finally, there must be Polo Mints. On the other hand, he prefers to drive in monklike silence. Books, music and Radio Four laughs are not permitted. He likes to concentrate on his driving, he says. Well, I said, I can concentrate on driving whilst navigating the hellscape that is M8 Closure Bingo and Catherine de Medici at the same time.
When we are in the car together, he rarely graces the passenger seat. A colonoscopy forced him into the left-hand side last time. Even then he wouldn’t allow me to drive him to the hospital, despite the fact he hadn’t eaten for the last 24 hours. It was quite safe. Hungry Yorkshiremen aren’t particularly dangerous but they are spectacularly grumpy.
Driving on the return from the Western was a total no-no. Well, remember where they put that camera. How our marriage survived that short trip is anyone's guess. We were one sudden jerk of the steering wheel from oblivion.
That right thigh kept tensing just at the edge of my vision. He makes a funny yelping noise when I overtake, which is rich coming from the guy who takes off from the traffic lights like the spirit of Ayton Senna, which is in itself weird from the guy who knows the speed limit of every section of road between here and Land’s End and sticks to it with the tenacity of Weetabix on an unwashed breakfast bowl.
So he drove when we went to Inverary for a short break. No Audible or Meatloaf permitted. I don't do silence, so I talked about the Wars of the Roses the whole way there and the whole way back. And sooked my way through an entire packet of Polo Mints.
We had to navigate across the Rest and Be Thankful in the teeth of a howling snowstorm. He maintained an admirable level of concentration, despite my chatter.
Mainly because, and I quote, “didn't even realise you were talking, love”.