“Are we nearly there yet, Daddy?”
“For goodness sake, we only set off 20 minutes ago.”
Four hours on the motorway is a great way to check if she still has the hots for you after 22 years and three children.
“Well I’m bored.”
There’s a yelp. I look in the rear-view mirror.
“You might be bored, but punching your brother isn’t the way to make the journey go faster. Read your book.”
“Read it at school.”
“Well, listen to your tape.”
“The battery’s run out.”
“Well, in that case it’ll have to be a quiz. Who plays at Gigg Lane? They’re nicknamed the Shakers if that’s a clue.”
My wife rolls her eyes. “For God’s sake,” she hisses. “If you must bore us all to death with a quiz choose something other than football.”
Ha! Just because she doesn’t know the answer. “Alright then,” I say, “Harry Potter.”
And off we go with the Harry Potter quiz.
Not so much a family quiz as me asking the questions and Jessica answering them.
The miles fly by. Even Jane joins in eventually. She can’t help herself. “Argus,” she mutters through clenched teeth as Jessica stumbles over Filch’s first name.
My Dad is to blame.
We’d always had a quiz as we trundled off to visit Gran.
Not that there was anything else to do in the days before car radios and Walkmen were invented.
“And don’t forget motorways, Dad. They weren’t invented either. We all love that story about how it took you all day to get to Bournemouth. Please tell us it again.”
Teenage sarcasm. How I shall miss it.
Ben was the star of our family quizzes. No question. He was absolutely unbeatable at I-Spy.
“Something beginning with T!” he’d cheerfully shout from the back seat.
“Tree? No, that’s too easy…”
“Turnips?” Four of us would be staring out of the car window desperately trying to find something else beginning with T.
Truck? Train? “Have we just run over a tortoise?”
“No. No. No.”
“We give in. What is it?”
Well, he was only three at the time…
These days it’s all changed.
I pick Tom up at the end of term and he falls asleep for 200 miles.
If we have a serious conversation it’s all too evident that he’s more intelligent than me.
Occasionally I spark back into life: “Come on, Tom. Football quiz. See who pays for the coffees at the next service station. Who plays at Gigg Lane?”
He sighs. “You’re paying, Dad. That’s your job. And I don’t care who plays at Gigg Lane. Football grounds change their name every year. Twelve months from now it’ll be the Hernia Support Stadium.”
Increasingly, though, it’s just Jane and me in the car. And four hours on the motorway is a great way to check if she still has the hots for you after 22 years and three children. Try this, gentlemen…
“What are you doing?”
“Putting the radio on, obviously. Test Match Special.”
“If you think I’m listening to some middle-aged men talk about cricket for four hours ...”
“But Joe Root’s batting - ”
“I don’t give a £$%! if God himself is batting. Turn it off.”
We drive along in silence for 20 minutes before – inevitably – I say, “Fancy a quiz? Who plays at Gigg Lane?”
“Don’t you want to know who plays at Gigg Lane?”
“No, I want to go to sleep. Which I could do if you’d stop asking me stupid questions.”
So of course I let her go to sleep. After 22 years I’ve learnt a thing or two. And once she’s dropped off I can turn the cricket on. If only I hadn’t cheered so loudly when Rooty got his hundred...