Do you know what I’ve become in my old age – or rather my not-so-young age? I have become that god-awful, pain-in-the-ass species: the Sunday Driver.
Ah yes, the Sunday Driver, scourge of the highways and byways (but mostly byways).
And I blame Covid. Of course. If there’s one good thing about Covid, it’s this – you can blame it for everything and anything.
Well, almost everything and anything. You’ve put on weight – blame Covid. You’re drinking too much - blame Covid (even though you were drinking too much before Covid). You’re depressed – blame Covid. Your hair’s a mess – blame Covid. Your clothes are shabby – blame Covid (I mean who is there to dress up for?) You’re watching too much TV - blame Covid. You’re sick to the teeth of Covid – blame Covid!
Covid aside, I was well on my way (the byway?) to becoming a Sunday Driver anyway; after all, everything else about me is slowing down. Rapidly!
Covid, however, has speeded up my slow-coach driving if that’s not a paradox? I mean, thanks to Covid what was there to do on a Sunday afternoon? Couldn’t go to the ‘Park’ (i.e. Nowlan Park) Couldn’t go to the shops. Couldn’t go to a café. Couldn’t go to a restaurant. Couldn’t drop into a church. Couldn’t visit friends. Couldn’t go for a sociable, afternoon pint in the pub to watch the match.
What in God’s name could you do? You could go out to your car! Yippee! And you could hop in. Hop in! Clamber in more likely and go for the proverbial drive. The Sunday Drive. The slow, in-no-hurry, take-your-time, take-everything-in drive.
The drive that drives (pun intended) other motorists mad not least the 10 drivers behind you all champing at the bit and cursing the ‘auld lad’ in front.
“But what’s their hurry?” I ask. “Where are they hurrying to when there’s nowhere to hurry to?”
As for the youngster in the souped-up car who thinks he’s in Mondello – he’s furious. He’s livid. He’s practically apoplectic with rage (road-rage, I guess) Plus he’s flashing madly at me to pull in. But I’m no mood to pull into a ditch.
And I’m in no mood to put my foot on the pedal – after all my wife (Ms Katie) and I, are savouring the scenery as we cruise these charming, country roads that we haven’t been on in donkey’s years.
We’re admiring the delightful, dormer bungalows, the intricate masonry of boundary walls and the fascinating, 50 shades of grey of the farm houses. This, after all, is our afternoon out, this is the highlight of our day for God sake; this is our treasured, temporary escape from Covid.
And no one, but no one, is going to interfere with our Sunday jaunt, not least the flashing ‘Lewis Hamilton’ up my rear.
That kid can shove his road-rage up his exhaust! No way is this revved-up, hyped-up, irritating, hormonal, pesky pup going to pass this sedate, serene, senior Sunday Driver.
The problem with masks (apart from fogging my glasses up) is that I haven’t the foggiest who’s greeting me on the street these days. Tom, Dick, Harry – could be any of them. Could be anyone.
Okay, voice-recognition helps but people are usually gone by the time the voice registers. And the reverse is also true – people are now calling me Michael, Jim and Tommy! I note that I have never been called Reginald or Ronald or Roderick.
Obviously I am not possessed of an aristocratic forehead. Which is not to say that there aren’t aristocratic Michaels and Jims and Tommys out there – there are. I just haven’t met them yet! And needless to say not all Reginalds, Ronalds and Rodericks are aristocratic.
And so – a thought. What say we all print our names on our masks! No mistaken identity then. Furthermore we can even greet folks we don’t know by name! ‘How are you Jamesy?’ ‘How are you, Bridie?’ ‘Hello Ivitza.’
Wouldn’t it help create a wonderful sense of community in this god-awful Covid climate?
I’m all for it – but I wouldn’t wear the ‘Gerry Mask’ on my Sunday Drive, don’t wish to come face-to-face, or rather mask-to-mask, with my souped-up Mondeo man!