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!
Love your sharing with us Nicky. I love to drive and always have. Luckily for me it was encouraged by my father (although my mum never drove – didn’t have a licence). I’ve driven minibuses for school/youth centre and a converted camper van when I worked on the urban mobile project. I have been in accidents (not of my making I hasten to add!) but it hasn’t put me off. But my eyesight is OK. I think I would be nervous too! You carry on not driving … in good company 🙂 x
Shaz, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I wish I had your gusto for driving, perhaps then it would be fun! Love your perspective and if I ever need a minibus driver, I know who to call. Rock on! XX And hope you’re feeling much, much better today. 🙂
Interesting subject! Some people tend to think that everyone drives, but I was in my forties before I learned. Even now I only use my car when a distance is too far to walk and public transport either too sporadic or non existent. Folk are often surprised to hear I’d much rather walk the two miles into town, a lovely walk on a riverside path, than struggle through traffic and pay through the nose to park!
I know what you mean! Do you get the surprised raising of eyebrows when you confess to rather walking? 🙂 There’s another upside to this. My boys have to walk with me, everywhere. They walk to school every morning, no matter what the weather. It’s just normal for them, and we don’t have to fight for parking spaces!!! 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting, Alison, it’s lovely to see you again. x
I do drive but haven’t for years, probably because I really got fed up with having a nagging man in the passenger seat! There was never a situation which required me to go out on my own so my driving just lapsed. Like Alison, I love to walk or take the bus into the city – we have four different service options passing through the village so I’m never waiting too long! But if push comes to shove I know I can get behind the wheel – although the new car we currently have on order is an automatic – and I’ve never driven an automatic which means – yes, husband in passenger seat showing me the ropes – think I’ll stay with the buses! xx
Ah, no, an automatic is fun, Jo ~ none of that pesky messing about with gears and stuff, just put your foot down and drive! I like that you prefer the bus on the whole, that makes me feel less alone! We should make a non-driving writer’s club, LOL. Although it’s brilliant that you can get behind the wheel if you need to. On reflection… *scratches head* I guess so could I. I mean, I would be legal, right? *makes note to investigate this* Thanks for your great comment, Jo, and wishing you a great walking weekend! XX
Don’t worry about flunking your driver’s test the first time so did I the first time. Taking the test anywhere in the city of New York [they give the test at numerous locations throughout the city] it’s very hard trying to past it first time around. I don’t why they even call it a driver’s test as the reason most people fail it is you can fail if you don’t PARK the car parallel to the sidewalk in the proper manner. If fact the place I first had to park the car was driving [it came from the auto school I used with the instructor riding with me there and then driving it back since they took back my learner’s permit until they sent it back to me with a the grade of pass/fail] had no sidewalk but trees growing at weird angles to the road. Needless to say not wanting the tree to touch any part of the car I parked “too far” away from the curve I failed for this same reason. You can fail if a tire touches the curb or the car in front or behind you, this is totally insane as almost everyone does this each day to some degree.
Most of the places I drive to today have parking where you merely drive the car into the place and then back it out when leaving.
It all comes down to the impression you give the tester. It depends on how well you’re dressed, your face, the way you smell, as well as he/she feels from last night.
However, I want to get into NY City itself, I rely on buses and/or the subway [the tubes] to get around. I also use them to get to places where one has to be lucky to find a parking spot even a few blocks away from I want to be.
Anyway, since you decided to write about driving your car, you know I can’t resist posting a song about this, and you already know the song I’ve got in mind.
ENJOY !!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
HAHA, perfect song choice ~ I believe that may have inspired Mary’s article!! Actually, it’s not failing the driving test per se that stopped me driving but overall, just lack of opportunity too soon after passing my test. That said, I did drive all the way to France once (twice, actually) and my then boyfriend used to lend me his car for weeks at a time while he was away training. I got over that failure thing but then it all atrophied when I moved to the UK. Thanks for sharing your own anecdotes and I agree, parking can be a major fail-factor. I have my own parking anecdotes but I’ll leave those for another day. Thanks for another song-tastic contribution, Robin!
I’ve driven since I was seventeen. I took drivers’ education at school, got my licence over the summer and my first car that fall. I can’t imagine not driving now after all these (not telling how many) years. I learned to drive on an automatic and boyfriend at the time (now husband) taught me to drive his standard with the shifter on the steering column.
Given a choice, I much prefer driving a manual. I love shifting gears! And I’m not terribly intimidated by roundabouts. In fact, I have an overwhelming urge to navigate the few we have in this area, the British way. So far, I’ve managed to suppress the urge. Somehow, I don’t think the constabulary would be best pleased with me – even if I did it when there were no other vehicles around. 😉
Drivers’ education at school ~ now *that’s* inspired! I quite like manual shift too. In fact, I used to practice right-hand shifting when I was in the passenger side of my boyfriend’s car in Germany. (Takes a while to wrap your brain round that one). Yes, he trusted me THAT much ~ we were a regular racing team. Still, the driving habit itself never ingrained itself for me. But, Mel, when you visit the UK in the summer you can go roundabout crazy, especially around Lincoln. There’s, like, five on the bypass alone!!!
When I first read the comment that you had something in common with several famous ladies, I admit my first thought was how I’d love to have something in common with Blondie. I wish I looked like her.
As for driving, you’re not alone.Many celebrated persons don’t drive, including Katie Fforde. I was frightened of driving and didn’t learn until I was over thirty, after a miscarriage. My husband didn’t drive either, and at the time, planning to get pregnant again, I had visions of a future with a baby. I saw myself struggling on and off buses and trains. Or dragging the shopping home, hooked on the push chair handles. For many years I was the chauffeuse in the family. Husband didn’t learn until he was over 40!
The child I eventually went on to have after I’d passed my test – my son, Tom – doesn’t drive yet and he is 32.
Go you, Gilli! Sisters are doing it for themselves and all that: loveya! I have to say, I have done the buggy-on-bus thing many times and was glad when low-floor busses were introduced throughout. As for the shopping… well, Sainsbury’s delivers, TG!! Thank you so much for your comment and I’m thrilled to hear I have something in common with Katie Fforde, too! #rockon!!!
Great post Nicky, and I am of a similar mind, I’m not that keen on driving, never have been. I’m glad I learned, I wanted to learn, and I can see the benefits but I also see the risks like you. Having moved to a pretty rural area though a couple of years ago I have started driving a little bit more around the local villages and area and trying to build my confidence. I still don’t know if I’ll ever feel at ease driving places I don’t know or on motorways though… I am lucky that my husband loves driving and is always happy to drive. I couldn’t afford a car for years anyway when I was younger and always got trains and buses everywhere so it’s a treat to have a little car I guess now and I do like having it for the independence it gives me. I think if you’ve gotten so used to not driving, why shouldn’t you carry on not driving! x
My OH loves driving too. He gets quite nervous on the odd occasion I do threaten to take the wheel (strictly in jest, of course). I think I could probably manage routes I know terribly well (excepting roundabouts). But you’re an inspiration ~ if you can pick the habit up then maybe, one day, when the need arises, so can I. Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by and for your fab comment, Lindsay! XX
Now I feel like we’re from different planets instead of different countries. WOW. What a difference an upbringing can do. Both my parents are race car drivers. I can’t imagine not driving. My dad forced me to learn to drive a standard even before I had my license. Taught me to change the oil and maintain the car myself. Of course my husband does all that now, but I know how if I’m ever on my own again.
We’re also a family of motorcycle drivers, my sister just last week got her motorcycle license and now we can’t get her off the bike. When I was little, the entire family had dirt bikes and we took weekend trips with the dirt bikes and spent the weekend riding. I don’t ride motorcycles, but I’m the only one in the family who’s afraid of them, but for good reason. If your curious, here’s why: http://www.justromanticsuspense.com/2012/11/i-was-born-on-black-friday.html
I don’t know what to think about all these women saying they don’t drive. I understand the preference to walking, but I feel driving is a major tool of independence for me. Not only must I drive myself, I must have my own car. When my car is in the shop, it literally makes me anxious to the point of tears. How sad is that?? 🙂
Great story, Nicky. I love learning about people who live differently from me. Such a huge world we live in. Yet, we’re all still so similar. Have a great weekend.
Dana, WOW! Well, with that upbringing, how could you NOT be a driver? I think that’s awesome. Incidentally, that boyfriend I mentioned above… well, he taught me a lot about cars. To this day, I am better at diagnosing noises, considering oil changes, finding pollen filters, jump starting and changing batteries. I just don’t do the driving bit, LOL! It is a huge world we live in and, as the British saying says, “it takes all sorts to make the world go round.” Thank you for your lovely, lovely comment! As for your black Friday history… wow. What a story. I’m sorry I missed it when you first published it!
🙂 Thanks for your visit, Dana, and one day you can take me for a drive somewhere…right?
Abolutely! I’d love to take you for a drive, but it will have to be here. I’m not so sure about driving on the wrong side of the road. 🙂
I think you might be my driving soul sister – I don’t drive either for many of the same reasons. A) I failed 2 road tests before passing the 3rd, B) being the baby of my family, my mom and sisters were a nervous wreck each time they got in the car with me to teach me the ropes as a teenager and it gave me a complex and C) I had a fender bender shortly after getting my license – the breaks gave out and pumping them didn’t work. After living in cities where cars were not necessary, I accidentally allowed my license to expire and just haven’t felt the need to take another test. I actually have nightmares about driving…
Ooh hooray! I knew I wasn’t alone in this! Isn’t it fun when people get in your car and shrink and shiver at every bend? NOT!! Haha, I blame the family too. Although my boyfriend was pretty supportive at the time. And trusting. (With his CAR, I mean. For me. To drive.) Still… I’m happier not driving and I’m STILL holding out. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Meredith!! X 🙂
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