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Driving you crazy. Wednesday April 16, 2014

I did a lot of driving last weekend; down to the coast, back home to meet a couple of Sunday commitments, back down to the coast and then home again.

Normally my husband is in the driving seat; not because I am a bad driver, but because he is a terrible passenger. Last Wednesday however, he made the painful discovery that, whereas washing detergent is great at cleaning clothes, it is not recommended as an eye bath. We spent an amusing three hours in A&E where he adequately demonstrated his command of basic Anglo Saxon to the pretty nurses, and he emerged with a raffish eye-patch and instructions not to drive for a week.

Before I agreed to drive the hundred miles to the coast with him beside me a full and frank discussion was required and the results were illuminating.

We have been married for fifteen years but I had never before realised that his annoying habit of informing me that the road is clear or that two cars are coming or "watch out for that pothole", all of which I have seen clearly for myself thank you very much; stem from his upbringing. Apparently, in his family, it is required for the passenger to provide extra eyes and to be on the lookout for hazards. In my family, it is the height of bad manners to comment or offer advice unless specifically asked.

But you give a little to get a little, and in return for his promise to keep quiet and not keep putting his foot on an imaginary brake, I agreed to slow down and drive at a sedate 65 mph.

It proved to be a much more pleasant way of travelling; just tootling along, allowing all the Ford Mondeos to whizz past doing eighty and more, occasionally pulling out to pass a lorry doing fifty-five.

Surprisingly, it didn't seem to take any longer to get there. Maybe five minutes or so and the whole thing was much more relaxing. In fact, my passenger even leaned back and closed his good eye a couple of times.

Given that I'm at the scratchy, irritable stage of my bi-polar cycle at the moment, anything that reduces stress is good. What's more, it saves on petrol too. So if you were on the A14 over the weekend, cursing the elderly Volvo in front of you resolutely doing five miles per hour less than the limit: I can only apologise. But, hey, relax; chill: your stress levels will thank you.

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Lex McKee Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 7:14am

Ah Mary, that's such good story-telling, it was as if I was there... you have a gift with language. I find it funny that as I get older, the need for speed diminishes. I'd rather have enough time to enjoy the sight of hedgerows bursting with Spring's green (as well as keeping my eyes on the road, of course!) Sounds to me like you are enjoying the journey and not just the destination - and when that is wrapped in the gift of low stress, that's a beautiful way to travel.

Idiosyncratic Eye Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 10:16am

Great story. I fear too that I may be one of those 'annoying' and 'bad mannered' passengers whose childhood also influences me to sing out. (In our defence, we're quite useful to take when driving overseas). I am planning to try to relax a little bit more too. Thank you for sharing. :)

Anonymous Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 11:14am

What a lot to say in one piece! We all bring our own experiences into relationships and assume others see things just like us.....until we actually talk about it!..; the need for give and take... and how little changes in habits can add up to a significant difference in stress levels. The slower driving thing is so true, a friend took this on because it is actually MUCH better for the environment (and cheaper due to less fuel use), meaning journeys with him are now pleasant and relaxing, rather than being 2 hours of tension and anxiety and irritation like they used to be!

Suzy Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 1:27pm

Such a witty and wise piece Mary. Chuckling away I was. Thank you!

Richard Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 4:15pm

Thankyou, Mary. Another thoughtful, well-written blog.
I drive for a living. You're exactly right about the environment and stress levels at lower speeds. I have recently discovered the benefits of listening to classical music whilst driving. I have to be careful when Ride of the Valkyries comes on, though...
Peace and Love, Rich x

Anonymous Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 6:43pm

I've just reread your post to my mum who approves very much. She, like your husband, is glad if any help is proffered by passengers. I've just thought though, your husband's eyes must have been in dashed sore straits to begin with if he mistook washing detergent for eye wash!!! Arrgghhh!! How painful!! We wish him a speedy recovery.

Anonymous Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 6:59pm

Fascinating when somebody's annoying habit turns out to be developed as a way of showing they love you and care for you. Actually as I write it this way I think it happens a lot. But how often do we discover that it actually has the exact opposite effect? Probably not that often. Congratulations to you both on this discovery enabling you both to change behaviour. Family patterns. Fascinating stuff. Very amusing too - from a distance and even from within. Thank you for a great blogg Mary.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 7:46pm

Thank you Richard; your comment made me chortle: I had visions of your vehicle (an HGV?) sprouting helicopter blades and hovering over the countryside spraying bullets in all directions.... That might be good for our stress levels too! I sometimes listen to audio-books: 1930s classic detective fiction is nicely relaxing; Lee Child less so!

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 7:49pm

Thank you Lex. Yes, the fresh green of Spring is lovely at the moment - and yo have time to spot the bluebells too; always a bonus.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 7:50pm

Bless you Suzy, you and Lex are such an encouragement.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Apr 16th 2014 @ 7:52pm

Thank you. He is much better and actually drove up to the DIY store this afternoon! He has agreed to wear safety goggles when attempting to load the washing machine in future!

Richard Thu, Apr 17th 2014 @ 6:14pm

I think you're a fine writer, Mary. I will seek out some 1930's detective fiction. And maybe buy a hat. Have a great Easter.

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