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Bigger car or smaller bum?

PUBLISHED: 12:26 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:26 20 August 2018

Okay, it wasn't quite such a squash as this but it wasn't easy... Picture: Getty Images.

Okay, it wasn't quite such a squash as this but it wasn't easy... Picture: Getty Images.


Getting three grandsons, a grandpa and a grandma into a middle-sized family car is turning out to be a bit of a problem.

It wasn’t long after we’d down-sized the car that we found our son and his wife were expecting a third baby.

The logistics of car travel with children have changed since my kids were young. Back then, it was enough to have a booster seat in the back, today you have to have proper car seats which can be used until they are 12-years-old. Yes, that’s 12-years-old. There are children of that age who are taller than me.

Anyway, With George and Wil in the back, there is no way you can get baby Herbie ensconced in his personal safety nest, between them. So when we took them all to the play centre, we decided the best way to get us all in the Ford Focus was to put Herbie in the front (first disabling the passenger air bag, of course) and put grandma in the back, between the other two boys. But we had reckoned without the enormous size of grandma’s backside.

I tried to sit down but Wil’s cup holder was digging into my thigh. I thought that if I lifted my bottom over the holder I might be able to settle into the space. I tried, Wil wailed: “You’re sitting on me, grandma!”

I clambered out of the car, leaving my dignity in the cup holder and we resorted to the only other solution we could think of. I drove the other car, while the boys (grandpa driving) took the one with air conditioning.

It can be a lonely life when your bum’s too big.

Once everyone is packed in, for longer car journeys we have emergency children’s music CDs. They are compilations of songs designed for children to enjoy and some of them are slightly odd choices. For example Benny Hill’s Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) has some suggestive lyrics and ends in a duel to the death; Lily the Pink has questionable sentiments although the boys like to join in with Scaffold’s other hit Thank You Very Much, replacing “Aintree Iron” with “Empty Lion”.

It’s difficult to know what to make of the Rolf Harris hits that are included in several non-Disney compilations, George was very keen on Jake the Peg for a while.

Alternatively, there’s the option of playing games on the journey - spotting cars of particular colours, for example. However, sitting on the nearside puts Wil at a disadvantage because he can only see parked cars.

We have tried offering snacks but you try getting crushed cheesy Wotsits off the child seats. We tend not to supply too much liquid because when small children need to go, they need to go now and when you’re on the A14 in the middle of nowhere (as most of the A14 is) then it can be a race against time.

It’s nice to play a game although I Spy with My Little Eye gives grandma one of her headaches.

This is mainly because, when he was younger, George liked to re-fashion the rules of traditional games to suit his own end... which was winning. This meant you had to spy something beginning with (insert letter of alphabet) and then also provide the answer. When it was George’s turn he flipped the concept. “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with red.” He usually won by default or, rather, befuddle.

Meanwhile, hide and seek (not a car game this one) is just too tense for Wil to endure. The boys rush off to hide, I count to 50 and then Wil runs out to find me... naturally, I am where he left me, which takes the thrill of anticipation out of the game as well as the hide... and the seek.

Meanwhile, I have to address a more important issue. What am I going to do about my massive bum?

• Anne Parker, who lives in a village near Ipswich, has been reflecting on our recent extremes of hot and stormy weather and sent me a couple of wise old saws, this one about the wet weather:
“The rain it raineth every day, upon the just and unjust fella

But mainly on the just because the unjust’s pinched the just’s umbrella.”

I wondered where my brolly had gone...

And then Anne shares this one:

“Man is such a fickle fool: when it’s hot he wants it cool;

When it’s cool he wants it hot - always wants it what it’s not.”

So accurate − and I like to think this is because we are British. Contrariness is one of the things we are best at. I have certainly been enjoying being able to moan about the hot weather and thunder storms and these followed a winter during which I had many occasions to moan about the cold and a spring when it didn’t stop raining. Perhaps it is time to add a moan factor to the weather forecast charts, alongside wind speed and direction, and temperatures − a rating of one to 10, where 10 offers the best opportunity to moan and one is perfect weather conditions.

In fact, in terms of the amount of moaning about the weather it has prompted so far, 2018 is probably the best year in living memory. And it’s only August.

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