WE were off to see our favourite artist, Mackenzie Thorpe, deservedly receive the freedom of his home town of Middlesbrough, and we’d left it a bit late.

When I say "we", I mean my wife. She has many qualities but getting ready on time isn’t one of them.

“You’re going to have to drive carefully – I need to do my make-up in the car,” she announced, ominously.

I’ve experienced something similar before. We were heading up to Northumberland for a posh dinner a few years back and, late as usual, she was painting her toe-nails with her feet up on the dashboard.

We’d barely gone ten yards, up to the junction at the end of our cul-de-sac, when she got into a huff because I turned a sharp right and caused her to slip with her nail-polish brush.

This time, the challenge was guaranteed to be even tougher because she’d be working on her face. Foundation, powder, blusher, lipstick and mascara – you name it, she had it all laid out in her lap, next to me on the passenger seat.

I was already sweating and having flashbacks as I approached what I now refer to as “toenail junction”. Never before in the history of motoring has a car negotiated a turn quite so slowly. In fact, it took all my experience not to stall.

Thankfully, there were no slips or complaints during the foundation or powder stages, and we were on the A66, heading out of Darlington, as she started on her lipstick. I breathed another sigh of relief as she completed that part of the operation and checked herself in the mirror. 

So far so good but then came the real knee-trembler: “You’ll have to keep straight now – I need to do my lashes,” she said.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever driven down the A66 towards Teesside but there’s this roundabout just before Sadberge. I could have kept straight but we’d have ended up in a field with some cows for company.

“What are you doing?” she shouted as I turned right – in the direction of Middlesbrough which, after all, was our destination.

“It’s a bloody roundabout!” I pointed out.

“Well, you’ve made me smudge,” she sighed.

The next ten miles was driven in agonisingly slow silence as I resisted the temptation to overtake a man doing 32 miles an hour on a moped.

“I’ll just have to do my lower lashes when we get there – I don’t want to poke my eye out,” she said, just before the bend at Thornaby. Apparently, the lower lashes are finer and, therefore, pose more danger.

Anyway, her face was a masterpiece when we arrived for the Freedom of the Borough ceremony – but no one knew what I’d gone through in the name of art.


CAROL Sanderson, president of Coxhoe Ladies Group, remembered the time she had her niece’s little boy, Lewis, in the car and they were playing “I Spy”.

“I spy with my little eye, something beginning with LW,” said seven-year-old Lewis.

Several miles passed and Carol was still struggling.

“Is it inside the car or outside?” she asked.

“Outside,” replied Lewis.

“Oh, I give up,” sighed Carol.

“Lectric wires,” declared Lewis with a satisfied smile.

CAROL also recalled the time her cousin’s five-year-old daughter, Clair, was in the Christmas nativity play.

“Do you know what they bring the Baby Jesus?” asked Clair ahead of the performance. “Gold, Frankenstein and Smurfs.”