For reasons, I won’t get into right now both my wife and I find ourselves in the position and necessity to learn to drive. My wife can drive, she learnt in America and basically needs a refresher, to learn the British road rules and pass her test here. Though that sounds more simple than it is I suppose but I wouldn’t really know for sue because I never learnt to drive when I was younger.
That’s not strictly true, I did try to learn to drive when I was seventeen. My dad bought ten lessons for my birthday or Christmas I’m not sure which now. I was never keen on the idea; I didn’t ask for them and I dragged my feet in getting my provisional licence. It takes like three weeks to be processed and arrive – I managed to drag it out for at least six months. Maybe longer. I kept telling my dad it hadn’t arrived yet but I hadn’t even been to the post office to get the form for it. I managed to drag that lie out for months.
When I finally got the licence, once my dad started getting really angry, rather than just regular angry at me, I took the lessons in the summer holidays I was 17 in Coventry. I don’t remember much about the lessons – I’ve an odd long-term memory and couldn’t tell you who taught me to drive or where it was in the city. I do remember that it was on a small estate of houses built in the sixties somewhere. One of the houses had a sign in the window that said ‘Go Away’ and ‘No Driving Lessons”. Definitely some backstory there, my instructor just shrugged it off as if the occupier of the house with the signs was crazy.
It’s didn’t help the anxiety.
That’s the other thing I remember. It was like the blooming of a deadly flower. The anxiety I’d always managed to brush off as shyness, as a weird personality trait came around and hit me full force when I started to learn to drive. I was in a car with a stranger on my own and had to learn a whole lot of stuff at the behest of my father and society with R and L written on my hands because I couldn’t remember which was which very quickly. Or without pretending to write.
It was definite;y the point where it became much more than shyness. I had panic attacks afterwards but I did all ten lessons and I was doing okay I think. Well enough, I do remember managing a large roundabout a few times but not much else.
Just panic, panic, panic.
Once the ten lessons were up I didn’t take anymore.
I told everyone I couldn’t afford it, my dad probably would’ve paid for more lessons if I had asked but the man caused me more anxiety than anything else when I was seventeen and to be honest I didn’t want any more lessons. I didn’t want to drive if it was going to involve so much anxiety. Why put myself through more suffering?
That was 17 years ago more or less, I’ve changed and my anxiety is different and I’m more confident that ever. Whether I actually want to drive is another matter. I had always been happy on the bus, drifting off not having to worry about concentrating on the road or remember which is left or right (I still have to think about it). I’m not sure however that this Bread wants to learn to drive any more than the seventeen-year-old Rhian did.
I worry I’ll be too anxious, worry that I won’t be able to concentrate, worry that I just plain will fail.
I realised though, over the weekend that I won’t know for sure unless I try. I’m not one to have regrets if I don’t do something. If I never learnt to drive I don’t think I would be too bothered in another seventeen or thirty-five years time. I’ve managed quite well on the buses and lifts I’ve had over the years – even living on the edge of nowhere like I do.
So I’ll try, find an instructor I feel comfortable with or take my wife with me every time. Whatever works for me. And if I can’t hack it no harm no foul.
What about you? Did you learn to drive at seventeen or in your thirties or at all?