‘Mum! Malcolm’s on my side of the seat again!’ said Tina.
‘For goodness sake, Tina,’ said Mum. ‘You’re 14 and far too old to be fighting with your brother in the car. And you know what your father’s like if you get him angry.’
‘Yeah, Sis,’ teased Malcolm.
‘Shut up, Malcolm! You’re only doing it to annoy her,’ said Mum.
‘Then don’t get annoyed,’ he sneered at Tina.
‘What did your mother just tell you two!’ bellowed Dad,
‘Yes, quiet the pair of you. Malcolm, you’re the oldest, and should know better,’ said Mum.
‘Right. Oldest by 8 minutes.’
‘That’s as may be. Look, I know it’s a long journey to see Nanna and that you’re bored, but neither of you are too old to feel the back of my hand. Now, shut up like your father says and look out the window for some cows or something.’
Malcolm shifted in his seat. ‘We wouldn’t be bored if Dad let us have our mobiles.’
‘Don’t question your father,’ said Mum. ‘You know he says no mobile phones when we’re together as a family.’
Dad checked the odometer – still over 100 miles to go.
‘That’s pathetic,’ said Malcolm who thought that this was the most senseless of Dad’s ‘rules’.
‘Keep talking like that and you’ll be in big trouble,’ said Mum.
‘But it is though, isn’t it, Mum? If you’d let us have our mobiles, we wouldn’t fight.
‘I’m sure your father knows best. Let’s just enjoy the rest of the journey. Nanna will be so pleased to see you both.’
‘Why did they have to move Nanna so far away? Tina said.
‘To keep her away from YOU!’ teased her brother.
‘From YOU, you mean,’ countered Tina.
‘SHUT UP’ said Dad. ‘She’s my mother and your grandma. Families stick together, right?’
Five minutes later the bickering started again. It appeared that Malcolm was once again encroaching on what his sister perceived to be her own personal space.
‘For god’s sake,’ said Mum, her slap making little contact on Malcolm’s leg due to the confines of her seatbelt.
‘Sod this,’ said Dad, ‘you see that clown trying to hitch a lift? I’m going to get him to sit between the two of you and shut you up.’
‘Dad!’ said Tina. ‘You can’t do that.’
‘Oh, can’t I?’
Malcolm turned from the window, ‘Dad, Dad, you can’t let him in – he looks like our Geography teacher, Mr Welsh…’
The man said he was going to Newbury. Dad told him to get in the back and to sit in the middle.
‘Wow, thank you, Sir,’ said the presentable man, who wore a red checker shirt, robust trousers and walking boots. Shall I put my haversack in the boot?
‘Yeah, it’s open – you’ll find room, but don’t squash our stuff,’ said Dad.
As soon as he was out of earshot, Tina said, ‘I don’t believe it – It is Mr Welsh.’
‘Quick, drive off, Dad – before he recognises us,’ said Malcolm.
‘No way. Serves you two right.’
‘I remember him from Parents Night,’ said Mum. ‘Very nice. He can teach me any day…’
‘Hey Mum, you fancy Mr Welsh nearly as much as Tina does!’
‘I DO NOT FANCY HIM,’ said Tina.
‘DO,’ said Malcolm.
‘Mum! Make him….’
‘Quiet!’ hissed Mum as Mr Welsh went to the back door having loaded the boot.
‘You sit between those two, they’re driving us mad,’ Dad said.
‘Hey! If it isn’t Malcolm and Tina Jenkins – fancy meeting you guys,’ said Mr Welsh. The twins cringed.
‘Hello. It’s Mr Welsh, isn’t it?’ said Mum.
‘That’s right – but please, call me Adam.’
The children sniggered to hear their teacher’s first name.
‘Adam. I remember you from Parents night,’ said Mum. ‘
‘Oh yes, I remember,’ Adam lied.
‘Hello ADAM,’ said Malcolm which made Tina laugh out loud.
‘So, what are you doing on this road – stalking us?’ asked Dad.
‘Ha, no – I’m spending half term walking along the Kennet and Avon canal. I’ll join up with it in Newbury and follow it to London, then hike back home if time allows, or catch the train if it doesn’t.’
‘Hmm, you must be very fit,’ said Mum. ‘Sounds like a long way?
‘It’s about 60 miles give-or-take,’ said Adam.
‘Well then it is a long way. Where will you be sleeping?’ she asked.
‘I’ve got a tent in my bag if I need it, but that’s part of the challenge really – I’ll just see what turns up on the way.’
‘Cool,’ said Tina.
‘My sister fancies you, ADAM.’
‘No I don’t, no I don’t!’ panicked Tina.
‘Malcolm!’ said Mum.
‘The pair of you. Stop it – now!’ said Dad.
Adam thought it was all a little fractious, and thought it best not to say anything, and sit quietly with his hands round his knees.
‘Anyway,’ said Dad. ‘It’s my wife that thinks you’re dishy, isn’t it, Denise?
‘Well, you are a very good looking young man,’ she cooed.
Adam was wondering if it had been wise to accept the lift. Newbury was a good hour away.
‘So,’ said Dad, ‘what do you think of my wife then?’
‘I’m sorry?’ choked Adam.
‘She thinks you’re good looking. So I am asking you, Mr Welsh, what you think of her?’
Mum looked smugly at Dad.
He made sure he caught the unsettled man’s eye in the mirror. ‘Well?’ he insisted.
‘Erm,’ the teacher struggled, ‘I think your wife….’
‘…Denise,’ advised Trevor.
‘your wife, Denise,’ confirmed Adam, ‘is very….in fact I’m sure she’s very….’
‘What?’ barked Dad. Mum and the children kept quiet; they knew better than to interrupt him when he was being like this…
‘Nice,’ said Adam, who would have jumped from the speeding car had he been sat by a door.
Denise said nothing, but she looked expectantly at Dad.
‘Nice!?’ said Dad. ‘That doesn’t mean anything. Are you trying to say that you find my wife unattractive, or just covering up how you feel about her? I remember the way you looked at her on Parents evening…’
‘Good god, no!’ said Adam, feeling as though he was being held by his throat over a bottomless pit. ‘Actually, I don’t remember you from Parents evening at all.’
‘First you say you remember us,’ said Dad, ‘and now you don’t. That, Mr Teacher, makes you a liar.’
Adam squirmed on his chair. ‘I’m really not a liar, Mr Jenkins – I was just trying to be polite, that’s all. I see a lot of parent. I really don’t remember you or your wife – Denise. Please believe me.’
‘Hmmm…’ said Dad, leaving him dangling.
‘With a name like Welsh, I bet the kids call you ‘Rarebit,’ Mum said snidely.
‘Rabbit?’ said Tina, who didn’t get it.
‘Rarebit, you div!’ bit back Malcolm, delighting in correcting her.
‘Or maybe your nickname is Sheep-Shagger?’ growled Dad.
‘It’s OK,’ said Adam, definitely wishing he was out of the car, walking. ‘It’s all part of being a teacher – I do get called all sorts, what with having a surname like mine.’
Dad muttered something under his breath to Mum that Adam was glad he couldn’t hear. Dad looked at him in the mirror again, ‘So, Mr Sheep-Shagger, my kids say you teach maths?’
‘Oh yes,’ said Adam, ignoring what he thought was a barbed use of this nickname and hoping to find solid ground again. ‘Years 8 to 10.’
‘I hate maths,’ said Malcolm.
‘I like it,’ said Tina. ‘Especially algebra – it’s like crosswords with numbers.’
‘You’re such a geek,’ said Malcolm.
‘She’s just clever at it,’ said Mum, adding, ‘and you are clever too Malcolm, in other ways,’ so as not to upset him.
‘We just haven’t found any yet,’ smirked Dad, unable to resist the opportunity for a dig at his son. ‘So, Adam, I think that if we are kind enough to give you a lift, then Malcolm here should get an ‘A’ in all of his tests this year, right?’
‘Well, that rather depends on how hard Malcolm works – he’s got the ability. If you can knuckle down this year Malcolm, and try your hardest, I’m sure the grades will come.’
‘Are you calling my son thick?’
‘Of course not, Mr Jenkins.’
‘He called me thick, Dad. No wonder I hate maths.’
‘First you call my wife ugly after spending the night ogling her, and now you’re saying my son is a pleb.’
‘Mr Jenkins. I did not say either of those things. Look, thank you for the lift, but I’d like to get out now please,’ said Adam.
‘Hear that kids? That’s maths teachers for you. Can’t trust ‘em. Couldn’t in my day, can’t now.’
‘And we were getting on so well too. Shame.’ said Mum.
‘There’s a sign for a parking area in half a mile. If you could drop me off there please,’ said Adam.
‘Bottler,’ muttered Dad.
No one said anything for the remainder of the half mile.
‘You tit, Jenkins,’ thought Adam as he was driven to the furthest edge of the wooded parking area. Malcolm got out to allow his teacher to pass. Adam gave a curt goodbye and walked to the back of the car to retrieve his haversack while Malcolm climbed back in. As he went to press the button to release the catch, Dad, having checked there was no other car around, roared the engine and reversed hard. Adam didn’t stand a chance. Dad slammed it back into first and roared off.
In the car, the family were silent, all thinking their own thoughts about what had happened.
After about 10 minutes Dad said, ‘Right. No one speaks a word of this to anyone, or we won’t just be visiting Nanna, we’ll all be sharing her cell with her.’
I hope you enjoyed that story. If you have 2 mins spare, add a comment to let me know what you think, if you have 5 minutes, add that comment then find another story on my site – there’s plenty to try.