Yesterday, somewhat unusually, we went off to a club to enjoy a few slices of Egyptian belly dancing. A friend of my partners is in some group which has practised this for about ten years and she was now part of a concert or whatever you call it. We went off to support her. There was me, my partner and a friend of hers from her work. Her cousin, who is lovely, was to meet us there, which she duly did. Everything going well, nice Lebanese grub and a glass of wine. Can life get any better?
Finally the evening draws to a close and I am to drive everyone home, including the cousin, who lives in the same direction as us.
As you may know, I am a bit of a dab hand with technical products and was soon producing my Sat Nav machine so that “Jane”, which is what I call it, could direct us safely to our various ports of call before returning us home. I love my Sat Nav machine. It has guided me calmly all over the country and never seems to get irritated if I make a mistake. I have always thought there is room with these machines for a bit of moral boosting chatter between turnings. Jane could utter various comments on your route building your moral . “I love the way you hold the steering wheel” and “Nice gear change” would add a little fillip to the journey making a pleasant change from the normal comments about your driving and routemanship.
Normally when my darling is guiding us to some destination utterances are more like, “Left LEEEFT I said, you blithering idiot” suggesting I may have missed the turning or misunderstood her directions. This is fine, and always brings a smile to my lips. On one occasion she became so engrossed in the details of our journey that she suddenly leaned over and switched the indicator on. I was surprised but not alarmed. Her enthusiasm, though possibly misplaced, is always infectious.
Over time she has been worn down by my placid forbearance and largely accepts the presence of Jane. Somehow today was going to be different. Lovely Cousin soon piped up, “I don’t trust Sat Nav’s. You can end up driving into a ditch”. This may be true, though I have always found looking through the windscreen a useful tool in preventing this catastrophe. I decided to let that pass. All the girls started chipping in on the subject and issuing a cacophony of instructions so that poor Jane, who only as one volume level, failed to make herself heard. Finally she managed to butt in to the exciting debate..
“At the next junction turn left” said Jane. For a computer her voice seemed more hesitant than normal, and I feared the questioning of her abilities was undermining her normal quiet confidence. “Straight On” said Lovely Cousin, and as a guest in our car I decided to humour her. Plenty of fuel so it didn’t really matter. Now everyone was chatting about routes and how well they knew this part of town. “Nice gear change” I whispered to myself trying to hang onto my sense of control. I could almost feel Jane smile. All roads lead to Rome, or in this case 147 Marlborough Street” so in due course we arrived. Almost hoarse with anxiety Jane whispered, “You have arrived at your Destination”. No one paid her any attention . Apart from me, that is, the silent witness to her patient brilliance.