dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Friday, 17 September 2010

BACKSEAT DRIVER by Erika Babbage


Erika Babbage is the wife of Errol Babbage, whose story Hippy Ritual featured in the very first paper edition of DNMF. They live in peace together in Cronton, Widnes, and enjoy walking their dogs around Pex Hill Quarry in the evenings.

My husband couldn’t accept that I’d revised the journey the previous night and had the directions printed out in front of his very eyes on A4 paper. It was like it didn’t count for anything, like I was showing him a couple of pages from Gardeners Weekly Magazine. In his narrow mind, the chances that I wouldn’t get lost were akin to him matching all six numbers on the Saturday lotto. In his extremely annoying, narrow mind, I was a certainty, if left to my own devices, to have us reversing out of a one-way dead-end in the middle of nowhere.

Whistling to himself, he positioned the Sat-Nav in the window, obscuring my view. I could drive the 1st 50 miles blindfolded, so why I needed repetitive verbal instructions from the word go off my own driveway, only he knew. To travel anywhere, no matter how close, without it, was inconceivable.

Watching his big clumsy sausage fingers struggle time and time again to input our destination made me want to grab the gadget from him and toss it out through the sunroof (I often fantasised about flinging it out the window when we were in motion). To set the destination details on our way out of the area we have both lived in for umpteen years, or even perhaps wait until we were on the motorway to set it, was, again, inconceivable.

He finally managed it, and after informing me of how long it would take to get there (emphasising that ETA meant estimated time of arrival), he, for the third consecutive outing, suggested I use headphones with the gadget, so as I didn’t miss anything the Sat-Nav woman said. To think that a headphone jack existed on this hi-tech mod-con was ridiculous, but to actually take advantage of it would be absurd.

Besides, his ulterior motive was to assume total control of the radio station. I preferred smooth, easy listening, whereas he still thought he was young enough to be a headbanger, and listened to what I nicknamed ‘Cutthroat FM. My best friend of late, Radio 4, was, to him, nothing more than ‘old fogies talking’. I let him opt for an over-enthusiastic Jamie Theakston jabbering on about Simon Cowell, just to get us moving, and bit my tongue, as usual, while he put his driving instructor’s cap on, as usual. He simply could not help but commentate on every little aspect of the road, other peoples driving, and, most crucially, my driving.

According to him, I drove too quickly, I drove too close to other cars (emphasising the phrase ‘tailgating’, which means driving too close to other cars), and I took corners with the wrong line. I also – and always – had the heating on too low and the air-conditioning on too high. And, although only he had ever stuck his head out of a moving vehicle to hurl obscene abuse at countless other often-innocent motorists, it was I with the road rage problem.

He forgets the occasion when he launched a blueberry slush puppy at a cyclist, or used his key to scrape the letters K N O B onto someone’s side panel in a car park, after a heated argument. When insisting that I pay due care and attention, over and over like a parrot, he forgets the time when he opened his passenger door into the path of traffic and watched it get taken off by a taxi like a clipped piece of tin. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but of course, my parking was responsible for the accident, not his rotten timing or failure to check his mirror before attempting to get out.

Here’s to another bank holiday excursion then....

After thirty yards, turn left....

© Erika Babbage MMX

Ya what, ha? Productions


Click below for interview with Errol


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