Learning to Drive…

I am on tenterhooks. My youngest daughter is about to take her driving test and much future happiness depends upon a positive outcome. We live in rural Shropshire where public transport is a fleeting, ethereal concept. To desire a bus’ arrival seems to instantly negate its existence.


I suspect that Schrodinger’s black cat in a box was an error in translation. What he really meant, as an explanation for the paradox of quantum mechanics as applied to everyday life, was the easily understood phenomena of a blue Arriva bus approaching from Shrewsbury, that seems to arrive but only in a different universe (the one where my daughter isn’t waiting at the stop sign).

catI am, therefore, obliged to provide that which the council doesn’t: a robust, surprisingly cheap and (generally) uncomplaining taxi service. But a few months ago, as a mark of our faith in her abilities and my desperation, we purchased a small, eco-friendly car, which would be hers when she finally passed. Delighted, she immediately named it Stuart.

“A boy car!” I asked, surprised.

“No,” replied my daughter, darkly. “Stuart’s a girl. She has gender identity issues.”

I said nothing. I merely neutralised any expression that may have crept onto my face and nodded.

The whole ‘learning to drive’ experience has been a bit of an eye-opener. I took my test in 1980 and remember it as a casual, understated experience. I borrowed my boyfriend’s thirty-year-old Hillman van (which came with a starting handle and two bald tyres), drove around with him for a couple of weeks and then took and passed my test.

hillman van

I doubt I’d pass now. I have discovered that I can understand, or at least guess the meaning of approximately 40% of all road signs, a score I consider reasonably encouraging. I can also re-tune the radio and search for chewing gum in the glove compartment, while tackling roundabouts and feeder lanes. This is a skill acquired over many years and the mark of a seasoned driver.

road signs

Not according to my daughter, or the seemingly endless video lessons available on ‘You Tube’, which she watches with religious absorption. These ‘lessons’ generally star a hapless teenage learner driver, maneuvering with geriatric caution through a generic town centre, turning the steering wheel as if opening a safe. Their progress is accompanied by a steady, incomprehensible list of failures and ‘minors’ delivered by smug, Old Testament types, leaving me to wonder how anyone ever passes their driving test.

hands on wheel

But more cogently, how the hell I ever did…

3 thoughts on “Learning to Drive…

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