My dad had the right idea.
When I finally managed to attain dizzy heights of social whirlness during my Sixth Form Years (still the Best in my Life – and I knew it even at the time) I would invariably need a lift somewhere. Actually, make that EVERYWHERE.
But asking for this favour was heart-palpitatingly uncomfortable and always met with shockingly terrible umbrage. Like I was going to starve the other occupants of the car from their allotment of oxygen or something equally tragic.
There were sighs. Rolling of the eyes, tapping of watches; Jeez anyone would have thought I’d asked them to inject their eyeballs with Catnip so I could write a poem about my findings thereon.
Prior to these years I hadn’t any reason to be driven anywhere much since the park was only a twenty minute roller-skate away and my best friend (of which I had probably one at a time, depending on wind-direction it felt) lived within spitting and earshot distance. Any party I was invited to was up the road, round the corner and I walked. There and back. With no mobile phone.
Remember, there were no paedophiles in the seventies.
And then once the 6th Form EBBO party invites started rolling in, Dad decided to start charging for the use of his time and transport – perhaps in a bid to put me off ever asking for another lift for as long as I lived.
But I HAD parties to attend. My presence had been REQUESTED. You know what it’s like, right? So I agreed to the charges. So he upped the ante and introduced a new rule. Not just me – he’d charge EACH FRIEND I’d invited along fifty pee each way regardless of how far the journey was. (In hindsight and had I known of, I’d have displayed a greater interest in the Edinburgh Fringe that IS for sure).
I was mortified and believed my life would be well and truly over.
But instead of the whole thing becoming the most cringe-worthily embarrassing thing to have happened to my newly-discovered social vista, it actually turned out to be amongst one of the best memories OF the Best Years. Because not only did Dad have an Ex Army Land Rover (one of those green ones with no central heating and a windscreen that folds down for some reasons – Shooting the enemy perhaps?) but he had the driest sense of humour and the cheekiest character my friends had ever discovered in a parent and journeys to and from became even more fun than the party we were going to/returning from.
I could have sold tickets for a lift with Dad.
And if I’d had any business acumen about me I’m sure I could have charged my mates double per journey and they still would have given me a tip.
‘Oh Mr Cooper, you’re so funny!’ girl friends would howl with laughter as he drove us back from a disco at one in the morning. And he loved it. The adulation, the audience, the half-drunken party girls rolling around in the back of his land rover as he took a corner too sharply on purpose. (Pre-seat belt law).
He’d never admit to it, of course. He still made out it was all a huge effort on his part and I was ruining every evening he had to come out to pick me and my seven mates up from wherever we’d spent our evening.
And now I’m the Taxi to my little teenaged Angel.
But I don’t mind.
Not even when we get halfway there and she realises she’s forgotten her purse/mobile/lipstick. Because I didn’t give birth to her to grumble at her and bemoan the fact she’s interrupting my evening/weekend. She’s the most important thing in the world to me and if she needs a lift even twice the way round it, then I’m the Mum to proudly *do the driving.
*Of course Step-fathers are equally amazing and don’t moan very much hardly either – especially if there’s football/fishing/DIY/cookery programmes on the telly.
(but you didn’t hear me say that)