The drive to the hospital was not an unmitigated success- principally because the satnav did not follow the same route as my brother-in-law whom from now on shall be known as ‘the practically perfect one.’ Nor did it help that HWIOO was feeling pretty ropey so it was me who was driving the car. Neither of these two factors on their own should have been a problem but unfortunately Mam had a bit of a bee in her bonnet about it. “It’s an awfully big car for you dear. Can you manage it?”
“Yes.” I wasn’t aware that women could only drive little cars.
“Well if you’re sure.”
Were you talking to me – no you weren’t you were addressing HWIOO.
“The seats are very low down. You should get cushions. The Practically Perfect One brings a cushion for me to sit on. Can you see the end of the bonnet? I can’t.”
It probably wasn’t destined to be the best journey on the planet after that. After fifty-five or so miles we reached the outskirts of a large and complicated outer ring road and the satnav told me to go left which I did. “But the Practically Perfect One goes a different way,” Mam objected.
“The satnav calculates the best route for us to take and will even tell us to go a different way if there’s a traffic problem.” I answered through gritted teeth. HWIOO was asleep in the back of the car – or more accurately had his eyes shut and was hoping that his mother had forgotten he was there.
“We’re going the wrong way!”
“No we’re not! But can I listen to the instructions please. There’re lots of cars and different lanes.” By this time i was gripping the steering wheel very tightly indeed and had just missed the well modulated tones of the satnav telling me to keep left in four hundred metres.
“We’re going the wrong way. I told you that we should have gone straight over that first round about. This is a housing estate.”
“Look at the map. We’re going the right way.”
“But the Practically Perfect One doesn’t come this way.”
“Well we are.”
And so it continued. By the time I actually arrived at my destination I was wondering how many women have slaughtered their mothers-in-law in lay-bys on the way to hospital having narrowly avoided hitting a jaguar because their aforementioned mother-in-law and the sat nag were in some kind of competition for directional power.
I, being female and undoubtedly having more caring genes than HWIOO despite my apparent inability to drive anything larger than a Nisan Micra , was nominated to accompany Mam in to see the Doctor which is odd because she can’t hear me half the time and the only reason she wanted someone to go with her was to explain everything clearly. It wasn’t as if she was going to discuss anything that might embarrass her. I’d been hoping to find a darkened room in which to recover and perhaps beg some valium from someone, anyone, for the return journey.
“Hello,” said a friendly young nurse when we were finally ushered in. “I’ve just got to check some details.”
“What did she say? Why is she mumbling?”
“She said she needs to check your details.” I yelled smiling apologetically at the nurse.
“There’s no mention of a hearing aid,” The nurse scanned her notes.
“I’m not deaf.” It’s odd how some pitches are perfectly audible and others aren’t. Or perhaps she was lip reading.
“Right. Is it alright for me to call you Millicent, Millicent?” The nurse smiled a hundred watt smile in Mam’s direction.
“No it is not. You may call me Mrs Harrison.” Mam folded her hands across the front of her coat.
The nurse stopped smiling. “Can you confirm your date of birth Mrs Harrison?”
After five minutes my mind started to shift gently in the direction of the cottage. It still looks like a building site but the plasterboard is now up on the ceilings and I’ve found a firm who will deliver a skip, wait half an hour and then take it away again. I sighed. At the time it sounded like hard work – but after this perhaps it really wasn’t that difficult at all.