Holidays, those lovely restful days when you come back recharged and happy or in my case, most likely divorced. I’m the world’s worst back seat driver and probably the world’s worst passenger when in a car driven on the wrong side of the road. Okay, I know it’s the right side of the road in Italy but it’s the wrong side as far as I’m concerned. Our arrival in Italy was fine until we went to collect the car. I nearly fainted when the woman in her broken English told us the car was new. Great, that was all I needed to hear. She then proceeded to conduct a long conversation with my husband about a deposit. No matter how much we told her we had insurance she still persisted. We finally handed over the credit card. Or should I say, my credit card.
‘I don’t do credit,’ says Andrew, proudly.
I’m thinking it’s a good thing I do.
We find the car, not with any help from the staff, I hasten to add. They dismissed us like we were flies they would swat out of their way. As soon as Andrew started the engine, I started to tremble.
‘Will you be okay driving?’ I ask, in a shaky voice.
I get a cold look. I’m not saying I don’t trust him am I? Not much!
Off we go. Andrew driving and me hitting an imaginary brake every few seconds.
‘There’s a car,’ I say gently and then a bit louder until I’m finally screaming,
‘There’s a car, brake, brake…’ in a slightly hysterical voice.
The sat nav is in my lap and as we begin climbing a steep hill my feet are convulsing so much you’d think I suffered from restless legs syndrome.
‘Bend, bend,’ I yell. ‘Slow down. What gear are you in?’
How Andrew coped I do not know. We climb higher and I can barely look. I get confused and think cars are going to come out of a slip road and grab Andrew’s arm for all I’m worth.
‘Car, car, brake,’ I shout.
Andrew stops the car and instructs me to sit in the back. I refuse. We continue on not speaking. The lovely sat nav voice tells us we are going the wrong way and I groan. Andrew attempts to turn around but we are on a hill. He begins to roll back. I scream. I’m convinced I’m going to die in Italy and not in a romantic Princess Diana way either. I go to grab the handbrake and grab Andrew’s knee instead. The climb continues with me constantly telling him there is a bend coming up. Just in case he doesn’t hear I say it a bit louder to be sure and emphasis the sharpness.
‘Sharp bend coming up, sharp very sharp.’
‘I can see them you know,’ he snaps.
It didn’t help that the Italians drive like lunatics and spend their time with their car practically nudging yours. It’s pretty terrifying when you’re on a hill. I found myself leaning forward in some strange attempt to help the car move forward. I’m not sure how heavy I think I am if I can move the car with my body weight.
We arrived at the villa and my heart was filled with dread when I saw it was on yet another hill. What’s wrong with Italy? Doesn’t it have flat roads like everywhere else? We climb the hill and then get stuck. I scream yet again. Honestly I’ll be screaming for England the whole two weeks at this rate. Three dogs come racing to meet us. Later, of course we came to know them as Jack and Jill and Ugo. I begin telling Andrew there are three dogs. I obviously think my husband is blind as well as deaf. I’m now stating the obvious and yelling it at the same time. By the time we were due to leave, my lovely husband had become very confident with driving the car and would zoom up the hill to the villa pushing the remote button to open the gate so he could glide through without stopping. I, of course, would be screaming,
‘Wait, wait, Andrew wait. Oh God, we’re not going to do it.’
Of course, we always did. We didn’t kill a dog, or drive the car over a cliff. Mind you, through my eyes I felt sure we came very close quite often. Next year a holiday in England I think.
I have a little Satnav, It sits there in my car
A Satnav is a driver’s friend, it tells you where you are.
I have a little Satnav, I’ve had it all my life
It’s better than the normal ones, my Satnav is my wife.
It gives me full instructions, especially how to drive
“It’s sixty k’s an hour”, it says, “You’re doing sixty five”.
It tells me when to stop and start, and when to use the brake
And tells me that it’s never ever, safe to overtake.
It tells me when a light is red, and when it goes to green
It seems to know instinctively, just when to intervene.
It lists the vehicles just in front, and all those to the rear
And taking this into account, it specifies my gear.
I’m sure no other driver, has so helpful a device
For when we leave and lock the car, it still gives its advice.
It fills me up with counselling, each journey’s pretty fraught
So why don’t I exchange it, and get a quieter sort?
Ah well, you see, it cleans the house, makes sure I’m properly fed
It washes all my shirts and things, and keeps me warm in bed!
Despite all these advantages, and my tendency to scoff,
I only wish that now and then, I could turn the bugger off.