Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Driving myself mad

This week, in between wheelie bin management, scouting for work and scouring property websites for a home, I am re-learning to drive.

I say re-learning because I passed my test about 13 years ago, when I originally lived in Manchester. But then, I landed a job in London pretty soon after and quickly discovered that a car in London is a stupid idea. No driveways unless you are a multi-millionaire, no space on the roads to park, congestion charges, permits...it's just a hassle. Plus, there's a tube station every 10 metres so you don't really need to drive.

But of course, in the north and in real life, things are very different. There's a tram system, but it only goes to about three places. My mate lives a 15 minute drive away, but if I tried to get there by public transport it would take about 3 days.

So. I have to get back in the driving seat. Problem is I'm not a natural driver. Usually, my own personal trick to get over being nervous of anything is to think "sod it, what's the worst that can happen??" and that always helps me to stop being a big dithering jessie and get on with things. But this is different.

What's the worst thing that can happen if I cock up driving a car? Well, quite a lot actually. I could end up mangled in a pile of metal and wheels in a ditch. Or worse I could end up leaving someone else a mangled pile of metal and wheels in a ditch. Which I know is quite pessimistic, and a little bit sinister, but I blame my over active imagination. Every time I get behind the wheel I just see an episode of Casualty playing out in front of me. (Maybe I should channel this dark side, write a gory book, get it out of my system?)

And with the nerves, it means driving doesn't seem to come naturally to me. It took three attempts to pass my test. The first failure was me going over speed hump to fast - the bloke taking the test hit his head on the roof of the car and all his change rolled out of his pockets. That's never gonna gain a pass is it?

Then as I say, when I eventually did pass, I didn't get on and do any driving. So here I am. I had a few refreshers in London, which helped, but I need to stop being a big girls blouse and properly get on with it now. My hubby's taken me out a few times, but I'm not sure that's conducive to a happy relationship. One of us may end up seriously injuring the other - and that's after we've got out of the car.

Luckily a family friend is a driving instructor and she took me out yesterday. I warned her I was nervous. And at the end of the lesson she told me I was "bright red and hot looking" at the start, but as I calmed down and relaxed, my colour went "a bit more normal."

She must have thought I was insane. Perhaps I should take some valium pre-drive? Or snort some cammomile. Now then, let me crack on with my gory road accident novel....

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