Wednesday 11 January 2023

Family Ties.

When he was six, Jack’s mum learnt to drive. At the time not many women did but Jack’s dad was tired of sitting behind the wheel of the car and wanted to watch the country-side pass more than he wanted to watch the oncoming road. Jack’s mum, Elsie, was happy; she had always dreamed of the freedom of the open road.


In those days, back before the moon landings, no one wore a seat belt in the car; no one wore a helmet on a motorbike or drank skimmed milk either and since Jack’s parents never had a car accident or died of cancer he grew up thinking that much of the future as it turned out to be, was unnecessary.


When he was sixty, Jack started to think about many of these developments from the perspective of his younger self and decided, as an experiment, to drive again without a seat belt; little trips at first but soon it became a habit and with it came a feeling of freedom he hadn’t experienced for a while.


One day, just after The New Year celebrations he drove down the hill to his local supermarket where the police had decided to run a series of random checks. 


At the last moment Jack remembered that he wasn’t wearing his seat belt and swerved and drove on past.


Looking in his mirror he saw the policeman react, and further up the road when he stopped to consider his options, saw the policeman cross the road waiting for him to come back.


He should have driven on; there aren’t many things on sale in the supermarket that he couldn’t have lived without, but he needed petrol. And at the side of the supermarket there was a petrol station. So he turned the car round and headed back. 


As he turned into the petrol station the policeman scrambled across the ditch and practically ran to intercept him. He then excitedly pointed out that Jack had turned the wrong way into a one-way access road, even though Jack was by now following another car, and docked him three points from his licence. Unfortunately Jack had previously lost three jumping a changing traffic light in the city and the odd one or two here and there for being inattentive over his speed.


Which left him with ‘about’ four.


From then on, he was pretty careful, he couldn’t afford the weekend ‘get-some-of-your-lost-points-back’ weekend workshops run by the local authority and he couldn’t afford to lose any more points. Sometimes his sudden stops at changing traffic lights made him unpopular with the drivers behind but he had no choice.


Several years later, one evening about fifteen minutes before ten, Jack received a phone call from his son, old enough to know better, telling him that the son had fallen asleep on the train and was now stranded in a distant town over two hours away and could Jack come and rescue him.


Jack had almost finished a bottle of dark red wine; bottle of wine that claimed to be perfect for a celebration.


And Jack was celebrating.


That morning he had received a letter from the Interior Ministry congratulating him for having driven within the rules for over three years, and enthusiastically restoring the full 12 points on his licence.


And now he had to get in the car in an unfit state and rescue family.


Family comes first in Jack’s book.








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