Oh my, how things have changed

News Headlines. Father in India charged with leaving his young son to drive his Ferrari. Quick, call the police, the Department of Children’s Services and everybody else who has an opinion on child-rearing.

I would like to say that my own father should be charged and imprisoned. He allowed, no, make that encouraged, my younger sister to drive his 12-cylinder Jag around his friend’s service station in Sydney’s west, and she was not even ten years old.

For that matter, please arrest and charge my grandparents as well. None of these people are alive, but hey, that is a small technicality I plan to address later. My grandmother had a driver’s licence. In those days, it did not mean that she could actually drive. It simply meant that whoever was responsible for awarding driver’s licences owed my grandfather a favour. To say that to be in a moving vehicle with my grandmother was a fairly scary experience is the understatement of the century. I recall once being driven to school by her. On a deserted back road, a car wheel overtook us. I remember thinking how fast it was moving. My grandmother looked at me, and in sheer disgust, uttered these famous words: “Will you look at that! Some fool has lost his wheel.” Boy, was she right, and you guessed it, it was hers. I never did get to school that day. No injuries. She never drove above 50 km per hour anyway. Just a very bemused tow truck driver and a very red-faced grandmother. God bless her. Reversing was beyond her. Whenever she drove to her own mother’s place in a beautiful picturesque town, she would drive round and round the town square until parking suitable for an ocean liner became available, and then just simply drive in. When she was in her early thirties, and my father was available, she would take him with her and make him park or reverse for her. He was 12 years old. I can still picture her, immaculately dressed, always in high heels, her hair perfect, a fabulous cook and her baking was legendary. Just cars and she were not a good combination. I suspect that the driver’s licence was a fashion accessory.