The Back Seat Driving Panel

As Mrs M and I approach our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary I feel it time for some reflection. Early on in our marriage we agreed to share responsibility for the various tasks involved in raising a family.

I was assigned the role of chief driver whenever we travelled even though, to be fair, my bride is a better driver than I am (although I would appreciate it if you didn't tell her I said so).

My responsibilities as family chauffer, however, don't come without their share of challenges.

It seems, and the female members of my family are in agreement on this, that I don't drive in a way that meets with their approval.

I either drive too slowly or I travel to fast. I either park too near or I park too far away.

And so it is that I have developed a thick skin when it comes to car related comments. I normally reply with 'when you are driving you can park wherever you want' or something similar.

Still our trips are accompanied by a set of regular encouraging remarks; 'watch that car', 'the lights are turning red', 'I am sure the other way would be quicker'.

In recent months a new phrase has been added largely due the fact that my advancing years seems to have brought a small amount of hearing loss. The phrase is in fact just a single word; 'indicator'.

My problem is not helped by the fact that the steering wheel seems to be inconveniently positioned to obscure the indicator light from view.

Last week we have had some of our dearest friends over for a few days. It was good to catch up and we spent many happy hours putting the world to rights safe in the knowledge that we had no responsibility for having to put our ideas into operation.

During our trips out I reverted to type and took up my usual position behind the wheel. Mrs M offered her help by reminding me that the colour red meant stop. Daughter number two considerately added some advice about the correct use of bus lanes.

Eventually, encouraged by my wife and daughters wise words, our female friend joined the panel of driving experts. She seemed to think that I might have forgotten how to use round-a-bouts.

I looked across at her husband for support and he raised his eyes in acknowledgement of my dilemma. We said nothing but I was comforted by the fact that he understood.

When we arrived at our destination he offered me the greatest sign of solidarity by turning up the volume on the CD player in order to drown out the help offered by the back seat panel.