A black Range Rover and a wee white heidie happily teetin’ ower the steering wheel. The scene this week as Her Remarkable Maj drove hersellie to the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
OK, it wasn’t a huge distance from her castle. But the fact she’s 95 and so confident behind the wheel earns her loadsa respect from me.
In recent weeks, I’ve been struck by how many smilie photies I’ve seen of her. Over the decades, oor Lizzie has always struck me as a wee bit severe – rarely showing outright delight; a taddy grumpy even. However, maybe because the anxiety about her man’s ailing health is behind her and the grief less sharp, every outing recently sees her positively beaming with enjoyment.
Most of my female mates are also full of admiration for her driving. Now in their mid-70s, they’re less and less keen to get behind the wheel; nervous about driving at night, long distances, or roads they don’t know – like the infernally complicated Aberdeen bypass. Three or four of my pals have never set tyres on it and vow they never will, while another recently got into a major fankle and ended up in Portlethen instead of Bucksburn.
It’s a national scandal that the over-70s can renew their licences every three years without any test of their driving
After driving for 40 years – and hating it – I hit The Yips simultaneous with retirement at 60. Increasingly panicky and dithery – in short, a rotten driver, So, with stops for my free buses not a stone’s throw from my hoose, I sold my car.
Eeehaa! Fit freedom. No more parking panics (never did master reversing in). No more MOTs, services, breakdoons (the cars and me).
How old is too old to drive?
It’s mostly men who cling on stubbornly to their motors long after they should be pedestrianised. One of my fathers-in-law, in his late 80s, deaf and unable to hear his revving, would rocket doon his street like Marty going back to the future. In his mid-90s, my uncle insisted on giving me lifts, regularly skimming parked cars and – sadly unforgettably – running the red light at the bottom of Watson Street.
It’s a national scandal that the over-70s can renew their licences every three years without any test of their driving. Hence l’il ol’ Mo here can still legally take to the roads, even though… I canna drive.
Her Maj’s coolness in her car reminds me of the morning after the Braemar Gathering a puckly years ago, when I’d stayed overnight with friends in their Linn o’ Dee cottage.
The daft husband suggested we shoot beer cans off a wall with his air rifle. Just as I was going to take a shot, I sensed a vehicle on the road a few yards away.
Like a feel gype, I turned to look, complete with gun, to find it pointing directly at a wifie in a headscarf behind the wheel of a Land Rover. Calmly, she smiled and gave a casual wave to the dazed gunwoman. What nerve!