Spouse has been teaching me to drive, of late, and I've been trying to learn.
In doing so, I recalled, from days of yore, an old battered, blue toy car that belonged to my cousin- and we of the same age- that I was only ever allowed to watch her operate.
Yes, I watched with a wistful eye as Cousin navigated Billy Bumper, her little legs pumping away.
My young heart hoped I might be deemed equally fit to one day motor so smoothly around the footpaths of her house.
Incidentally, my house didn't have any footpaths, adding to the awe and envy that washed over me each and every time Cousin came tootling around a corner, in a hurry to get somewhere or nowhere, blowing her horn to shoo me off the path and out of her way.
Could I have a turn on Billy Bumper? I'd say. Not to be begging you, but please please please oh please.
No. It was her turn.
It was always her turn, because she was legal possessor of Billy Bumper and in any case, it was her house, and in any case she didn't want to get off him, and in any case, No.
Toot, Toot, and away she'd go around the perfect corners of her brick house, and I vowed that one day I'd have my own toy vehicle, and she'd never, ever get to touch it, but she'd get a pretty good look at me going around in it, I'd make certain sure of that.
I'm all grown up now, you understand.
I practice in a real, honest to goodness motorcar.
If I ever happen to be sailing down a remote, twisted, country road in the wilds of Ireland, and the fates allow me to chance upon Cousin dressed up to the nines, standing in a ditch, under a thundercloud, her elegant thumb stuck out in desperation- well, of course I'd pick her up. What else would I do?
And naturally we'd gossip about old Billy Bumper as we went along, and what might possibly have become of his blue plastic self, and, of course, we'd get into talking about how Cousin came to be stranded in a ditch or whatnot in the first place, because sharing stories is, I'd wager, one of the finer things about owning a car and having a fellow passenger, and it's miles better than daft promises of retaliation made when one was a youngster.