While I was idly flicking through Tatler Magazine yesterday, I came across an article that made me really happy. In fact, it made me feel totally and one hundred percent vindicated in the matter of a long-standing family debate. It turns out that I’m not driving in great company!
Huh? I hear you say. Well, to understand my jokey statement, you have to know that I don’t drive. It’s a matter of choice, not ability. I do have a licence. I’ve had my licence since 1991, in fact. It’s probably the cleanest license in the country because I haven’t used it for the best part of twenty years!
But why, you ask, no doubt aghast. Don’t worry, you can be aghast. I’m used to that reaction!
Let’s see. There are numerous reasons why I don’t drive.
Failing my driving test first time round didn’t help. I’d never failed anything before in my entire life, and this rather spectacular (and costly!) failure deeply undermined my self-confidence (in shreds anyway at the tender age of nineteen!).
My father’s unerring ice-age attitude towards woman drivers certainly didn’t improve matters. His view was quite plainly that women didn’t belong behind the wheel. I kid you not ~ he was of that generation. I remember him well, standing by the kitchen window, watching as my Mum would try to park her car. He’d be muttering under his breath, “She’s gonna hit it, she’s gonna hit it” (except, of course, he’d say that in German), and he’d be rubbing his hands gleefully. Upon gaining my licence, he categorically forbid me to ever, ever drive his car. It is somewhat ironic that it was him, shortly afterwards, who reversed out of the garage with the passenger door open. And, another few weeks later, he misjudged the distance to the bin shed rather dramatically. But I digress!
Being caught in a traffic accident during my very fist weekend in England left me somewhat traumatised, I have to confess. To this day, I have a dangerous tendency to close my eyes in roundabouts ~ not a healthy habit, were I driving, you will agree! You see, what happened was this. I was in a friend’s car and we were motoring through an infamous Northampton roundabout. My friend was going round, as one should. The other driver decided to go through, as she was in a hurry. The two cars connected in the most unfortunate, metal-crunching manner. And the impact happened on my side, because the car was German and I was sitting on the right. Nobody got hurt, thankfully, but the cars were rather damaged and me… well, I still close my eyes.
I should probably also mention that am sadly lacking spatial vision. It’s an eye thing. I don’t see distance. I don’t see three-D, for that matter. Parking is a nightmare, as is judging distances in…you guessed it, roundabouts.
Last but no least, there’s not been the need for me to drive. Whilst living in Egham (3 years), Oxford (2 years), London (6 years) and later Bristol (8 years), I could get anywhere by bus, bike or on foot. And in most places, it was actually easier not to have to worry about parking and some such. It’s only since we’ve moved to rural(ish) Lincoln that there is a greater potential for the need to resurrect my driving skills. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if parts of my family had some kind of sweepstake going on how long I resist the lure of the car.
But you see, I won’t need to, now.
For I am in GREAT company on the not-driving front. And I know this courtesy of Mary Killen over at Tatler Magazine and her article, “Baby, You Can Drive My Car” (thank you, Mary!). Turns out that Einstein probably wouldn’t drive, were he alive now. Manolo Blahnik doesn’t drive, nor does David Starkey — and the list goes on, go and check it out! The image on the next page of the magazine (this isn’t reproduced in the online article) suggested strongly that Adele and Lady Gaga don’t, or won’t, drive, either. (Yet! A quick Google Search indicates that they may be working on this!) See: I’m in excellent company not driving. (In fact, let’s be clear about this: at this time I may have something quite special in common with Adele and Lady Gaga!!) Therefore, I shall stick to my guns (or feet, as it were) for as long as I possibly can. I shall be green. I shall have a smaller carbon footprint than any other adult I know. *smiles smugly* Sorted!