I am really good at driving men mad. In fact, I think I could have driven quite a few to the brink.
My claim to fame arises due to my lack of skill behind a wheel. There are times when I am really sorry I didn’t grow up in Australia, that I didn’t have a chance to ride a tractor or a paddock bomb. All I would have scared then would have been cows or sheep dogs. Instead I grew up in the country, but we had nothing remarkable with an engine, just an old car that Dad drove and I had no chance to drive.
I had boyfriends with motorbikes and rode on the back, rather precariously. I rode a push bike and was even dangerous on that, but it got me out and gave me mobility. I had no opportunity to get behind a wheel, and not many reasons to even want to. Then, I was 19 and married and living in New Zealand. For many years we had no car and I walked miles, quite happy to do so as I was fit. The children came and the only wheels I knew were on a twin pushchair.
Back in the United Kingdom after five years, we were living in the rural area near Bradford on Avon, in a beautiful but isolated little village called Westwood. I decided to take driving lessons. I was about 30 and had school-aged children. My first driving instructor I knew from my work, I hoped he might be okay, but it did not go well. He could not get through to me I think. I have no sense of direction and hated trying to remember the road rules. I actually pass written exams with flying colours but practical… I’m not so bright.
He became very anxious and suggested I try another instructor. I was driving our station wagon now and then and not doing too badly. I would drive back from the local hotel so my husband could have a drink or two. Then my next driving instructor was a bit lecherous, so as he had ideas about what I should be doing with the gear stick, I gave him up. Then I had a nervous little man who was very patient, except I got him very worried when I went down a one way street the wrong way and then got jammed in a driveway. Poor man, he had to give the job away and had a bit of therapy for a while before going into a gardening job.
My most spectacular event was on a shopping trip with my husband and three children. I was negotiating a sudden turn left and totally misjudged the distance. I turned the car towards a line of parked vehicles and with amazing skill I put the nose of our car between two parked cars. It just fit. My husband, with a face the colour of chalk, said very quietly and carefully, “Right now back out very slowly”. I did that and was amazed as I had less than half an inch between me and both cars. My husband later said I showed skill in that respect. We got home, but I reconsidered driving and although my next instructor said I could pass the test I was petrified. I gave it up for a few years.
When we arrived in Australia, I had another try. Perhaps not wise as I hadn’t been here long and the roads were slightly challenging for me. The driving instructor turned up for my first lesson and I drove out with my stomach in a knot. Travelling at snail’s pace, he let me have a few more tries and then by mutual agreement he elected to actually drive me home. We decided four wheels and I did not go together. The instructor was shaking as he left and am sure I saw him at the doctor’s later.
Aside from one mad foray into driving when I had a moped, and was so dangerous I reckon they re-routed the buses on my usual route, I have no confidence behind the wheel. Yes two wheels or four, I can drive you mad, believe me.