(NOTE: Ma. If you're reading this, may I suggest you look away now. The below material may have a seriously detrimental effect on our currently good relationship. I did consider not publishing it, but as you would vigorously, repeatedly and emphatically agree with me, good judgement has never been my strong point. You have been warned.)
Firstly, I should say, that I've just had a superb 24 hours. My generous mother paid for a box at Harrogate Theatre and took my daughter and I to the pantomime - which this year is Beauty and the Beast. If you live near and haven't already seen it, I thoroughly recommend it.
It was wonderful to see her (she lives in France mostly) and a most enjoyable time was had by all.
Jesus H Christ, her driving.
It is only fair to inform you that I don't drive. I'm not banned, or legally blind, I just don't drive. I Don't like it. Can't do it. In fact, I was on a programme in the late 90's called 'Drivers From Hell'. I'll deal briefly with the usual questions about that below:
1. Yes really.
2. Yes once, I failed for speeding.
3. No I still haven't.
4. No, I'm not bothered as I shall win the lottery this Saturday (insert appropriate date) and shall employ a buff chauffeur who will also act as my gardener, 'manny' and yoga instructor.
I realise that it is somewhat unfair to be a backseat driver when you don't even have a license, but as the only fingernail I still have left remains embedded in my knee (I bit the others off as she negotiated a roundabout) I feel I must share.
(Around a mile and a half down a dual carriageway entering Bradford.)
Me: Erm. Are you in second gear?
Ma: (Sounding astonished at such a stupid question.) Yes. I thought I might have to turn at some point.
I press my lips together so firmly that my mouth puckers like a cat's anus.
(Later - after around ten minutes on a national speed limit A-Road.)
Ma: (Sotto voce and with a hint of daring-do) Hmm. I might go up into fourth gear now.
Ma: (Still to herself) Or even, (dramatic pause) fifth.
Steam begins to seep from my ears and eyeballs, yet still I say nothing.
(Later - after forty-minutes of open road ahead of us and a tail-back behind us that I estimate through the passenger side-mirror, to be around thirty strong.)
Ma: I do wish that bully-boy would get off my tail.
Me: (Glancing in the passenger side mirror and immediately registering that the driver behind us is an elderly woman, in a Nissan Micra, wearing a hat) Hmmm.
My teeth clamp together, the enamel that once coated my molars crumbling under the force.
And finally, ladies and gentlemen:
(On entering the thirty-mile an hour lane, that runs through her village.)
Ma: Oh why do they insist on driving up one's backside?
Me: (For I can take no more, reader. The throbbing in my neck suggests an aneurysm and the descending red mist is not a weather phenomenon of the Yorkshire Dales.)
"Perhaps," (high pitched) "it's because you are driving at TWELVE MILES AN HOUR."
Ma: Am I?
Me: (Voice glissando's up another octave. I'm not known for self-control. This experience is on a parallel with not sneezing from under the bed when a convention of serial-killers are holding their annual 'show-and-tell' in, what turns out is, your double-booked hotel bedroom.) Yes. You are.
Ma: Oh well. I'm turning right now...
AS SHE TURNS LEFT.
I'll leave it at that. Reliving the experience has brought me out in hives and I suspect I may need an osteopath to dissipate the knots at the base of my neck.
Perhaps I'll look into getting that driver's licence after all.
(NB. The woman in the photo is not my mother. My mother is far younger and is immeasurably more beautiful. I on the other hand, do have a passing resemblance to the dog.)