Magpie Anthology

In Which the Husband Almost Kills me in a Plastic Car

You know how they say that you should never work with children or animals? Well, I’d like to extend that to never getting into small plastic vehicles with three wheels and a husband who thinks he’s Mario Andretti.

Some context. We find ourselves on a short break in Porto with friends and we have each been tasked with finding something unusual or interesting to do. So far, we have painted tiles (a nice safe activity) and tasted port (slightly less safe given the quantity drunk and the Douro river but we survived) and then it was the turn of the Husband’s suggestion. Go Cars. For the uninitiated, Go Cars are little yellow vehicles based on a motorbike but with three wheels with a hard-plastic surround and do go at a fair lick. So, suitably helmeted and instructed in the way of the Go Car (the Husband took a very laissez faire attitude to the instructions which should have rung alarm bells) we were off. I should also explain that these Go Cars run on a sat nav and so basically tell you where to go but at certain intervals it cuts out and instead tells you about important places with suitable accompanying music…At this particular juncture, you also need to know that the Husband is pretty deaf (selectively in my opinion) and so the sat nav / loud Portuguese music was turned up to full blast. And off we set.

To begin with, he’d forgotten to take the handbrake off which made for an interesting, heart stopping, experience in a tunnel as we ground to a halt with cars stacked up behind us and the Husband asking me why it wouldn’t go. After what seemed like forever but was probably in reality 30 seconds, he realised his mistake and laughing loftily (him, not me) we were once more on our way. Our friends Iain and Rayn were in the car behind us and we did the usual taking pictures and little videos to send to our friends back home.

Now, I mentioned that the Husband is deaf and that the sat nav cut out from time to time to tell us tales of Porto, much to the amusement of people in the streets and so it was that we found ourselves going round and round in circles along the same roads that we had already traversed with traditional Portuguese music blaring, me yelling instructions and him blithely ignoring me and saying ‘I can’t hear you’. As we went down a large hill bisected by other roads and also the tram line for what seemed like the fiftieth time, the traffic lights turned red. ‘Stop’ I yelled. ‘I can’t hear you’ he yelled back as he went through not one, not two but three sets of red lights as lorries, buses, cars and trams all screeched past in front and behind us. I can’t actually tell you what I said next for the sake of propriety, but it was along the lines of ‘which bit of stop didn’t you understand’ to which he replied, ‘I don’t know what you’re getting so worked up about, calm down’. Had I not been strapped into the car and had he not been wearing a helmet; the consequences of that particular comment could have been very different.

The full horror of the situation came to light when we finally stopped, and I climbed jelly legged from the contraption. The Husband who was obviously protesting that he had done nothing wrong was (literally) stopped in his tracks as video evidence of his red-light running was played in front of his very eyes. He tried laughing it off saying that I hadn’t been giving him instructions properly but as we noted, I was clearly yelling at him and waving my arms round in a distressed manner which, even to the casual onlooker, would suggest some concern on my behalf and it was by some divine intervention that we hadn’t been squashed. We collectively agreed that he was not cut out to be team leader and grudgingly he let Iain lead for the rest of the way as I breathed an epic sigh of relief.

Note to self: avoid small plastic vehicles especially with deaf husbands and loud Portuguese music!

Words: The Longsuffering Amber Beard

Should you wish to hire a Go Car in various different locations, have a look: HERE

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