WE’VE covered some miles, the old car and me. It’s debatable who has more miles on the clock, depending on how car miles translate into man miles. Let’s just say the car is heading towards 140,000 miles.
Today will be another of those university journeys. Parents with student-aged offspring will know about these. Ours started when son number one went to university in Preston to study forensics. We trekked over there the first time with a car full of student stuff and parental misgivings. Our worries were not great, but seeing your first one leave at 18 is a pull. On the way back we had a tearful coffee at a soulless motorway service station, a suitable place to feel stranded between one thing and another, while our son went out and got drunk with his new friends.
Three years later, it was time for the last trip, the car groaning under the weight of the years and the beers (boys in our family put on weight in student years, no so the girl). Number one son returned home for a while, and number two boy headed off to Salford University. Hence three more years of loading and unloading the car, complete at times with massive speaker, amp and guitars in an old Volvo estate that once carried most of his band, along with their instruments. Last summer another final trip was made, before the middle boy eventually moved back to Salford to rent a flat with his girlfriend (one more final trip).
Now our youngest needs moving in Newcastle, in readiness for her last year. First the old car had to ferry her to student halls, and later back again, and then to a rented house, shared by a gaggle/giggle of girls. Now she needs moving to a nearby flat for a summer of working in readiness for her final year.
Once these dad tours-cum-chores involved lifts to Scouts, gigs, dance classes, parties at friends’ houses, leavers’ balls and so on. Then the distances grew, but at least ours have all been in the north and within easy enough reach.
I can’t say I’ve ever minded too much: it’s just one of those jobs that have to be done, and there is only one driver in our family.
So this morning we’ll head off early, do the switch-around, eat at the café where our daughter is working for the summer, then point the car towards home again. The university lifts are almost over, and this is a relief in a way. Yet Daddio, as my daughter alone calls me, has enjoyed the responsibility, and the time in the car with each child, heading backwards and forwards to assorted student locations. Often we have seen cars loaded with students and their duvets heading towards York. The drivers glance over, or so I like to imagine, and think, ah yes: we’ll have yours and you can have ours.
Footnote: today at 7pm at Dringhouses Library, in Tadcaster Road, there is a panel entitled the Fascination of Crime, as discussed by four members of York Authors. The quartet comprises Pauline Kirk (writing as PJ Quinn), Tom Harper, Adrian Paul Fayter and me. Tickets costs £5 and include refreshments. Phone 01904 552674, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.