I survived a five-hour car trip with The Parental Unit for which I surely deserve some compensation for emotional damages. While I am exceptionally fond of my parents, I am convinced that travelling long distances with the people who created you should be banned. I arrived at Precious Jo'burg Friend's house dangerously close to a nervous breakdown.
It began at the unacceptable hour of 4 a-effing-m, with a temperature so chilly I was exhaling solids. (It must be noted that I am not - especially on my first day of leave - wont to rise before the sun on a Saturday morning and so was in a mood not dissimilar to one with a fevered hangover.)
But I climbed directly into car and lay my head on pillow next to The Daughter who, like her mother, enjoys icy early mornings as much as constipation. But, as with all long distance trips, The Father's boredom with repetitive scenery becomes apparent when he takes it upon himself to single-handedly provide the vocal soundtrack to the trip.
Well, that's not strictly true. He often requires my, or The Daughter's input in terms of providing the descant.
The Father: (sings)Holy Mary, Mother of God. (Speaks) Now, Pant, when I get to the (sings) pray for us sinners (speaks) part, I want you to descant with (sings) pray for us pray for us. (Speaks) K, let's try it.
I don't know why I don't just say no, but I don't, and inevitably I get it wrong.
The Father: Okay, ready?
The Pant: Yup.
TF: One, two, three (sings) Holy Mary-
TP: (cat's choirish) pray for us pray for us, yeaaaaaaaaaah (Mariah Carey style).
TF: (abrupt) What was that?
TP: Descant improvisation.
TF: Descant what? I told you to sing (sings) pray for us pray for us.
TP: And I workshopped in (sings) yeaaaaaaaaaah (Mariah Carey-style).
TF: You what?
TP: I thought we could try something new.
TF: The descant is new. You can't be extra new with Holy Mary.
TF: Because this is my edition of Holy Mary, not yours. Right, let's take it from the top.
TF: (sings) Holy Mary-
TP: (sings) Mother of mother of-
TF: (anger, audible). What was that?
TP: I was descanting.
TF: The wrong words. I told you it was (sings) pray for us pray for us.
TF: Fine. Let's try it again.
I never quite got The Father's descant right. Eventually he ordered me to sing the hymn and he'd provide the descant.
TF: K go.
TP: (sings) Pray for us pray for us.
TF: Bloody hell, Pant. What is wrong with you this morning?
(I couldn't tell him that my idea of fun did not include the singing of hymns in a new-aged descant-style.)
TF: You're supposed to be singing the (sings) Holy Mary, Mother of God (speaks) part. The descant is mine.
TP: Right. Okay go.
TF: You're supposed to start.
TF: What do you mean 'what'?
TP: What am I supposed to start?
TF: (very close to emitting steam from ears.). The hymn.
TP: (taking a huge chance). Which hymn?
TF: Don't make me swear.
TF: Just leave it, Pant. I'll do it on my own.
And he did. A number of songs and hymns. Including:
a) the entire sound track to The Sound of Music including the yodelling bits,
b) the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar,
c) every Beatles song he knows,
d) the songs he used to sing to The Daughter when she was a small baby and,
e) his old school song (majority of words forgotten and improvised with 'aaaaas' and 'uuuuuus')
There's a reason for flying. This trip, a case in point.