Sunday, 8 March 2015

Driving Her Crazy

My daughter has started driving lessons.  By the time most kids have their first professional lesson, a fair proportion of them have had a bit of tuition with a parent.  At this point, I would like to congratulate such parents who clearly don’t have a faint heart – although such parental tuition can be fraught, I’m sure.  Like the time when my daughter’s boyfriend drove his mother’s car into the garage.  And didn’t stop until it hit the wall.  Or when I was passenger to my son’s early attempts in our field and screamed, ‘THERE’S A FENCE,’ as we bounced towards our boggle-eyed pony trembling behind its post-and-rail.  I just didn’t have the required nerves of steel to repeat all this with my daughter.  She’s booked a week’s intensive course of driving lessons starting next month, so I thought it might be prudent to get some basic acquaintance with clutch control etc in order to be a little more prepared.  So last Wednesday Eleanor had her first independent lesson.  By the time cabin controls and basic safety stuff had been covered, she only had ten minutes of actual driving time.  Nine minutes of this was spent bunny hopping forward and stalling the vehicle.
          ‘I see,’ I listened to her account afterwards and nodded encouragingly.  ‘So how did the remaining minute go?’
          ‘Well I didn’t manage to get out of first gear, but I was very proud of myself, Mum,’ Eleanor beamed.  ‘I overtook a car.’
          ‘You overtook a car?’ my eyebrows nearly shot off my forehead.  ‘What, in first gear?’
          ‘Well, it was a parked car, but I still overtook it.’
          ‘And I drove at twenty miles per hour too!’
          ‘Still in first gear?’
          ‘Yes.  The engine note was a bit loud, but my driving instructor didn’t say anything.  He was too busy leaning across and grabbing the steering wheel.’
          I felt a tad queasy listening to that bit.  ‘Why was he grabbing the wheel?’
          Eleanor regarded me with wide eyes.  ‘Because it’s so hard to steer a car, isn’t it?  I mean, I was busy looking at the speedometer and thinking how amazing it was that I was driving at twenty miles per hour.’
          ‘Mmm, quite.’  I take my hat off to her driving instructor.  ‘But you are actually meant to keep your eyes trained on the road ahead.’
          ‘Oh I did glance at it now and again,’ Eleanor assured, perfectly serious.
          Glance at it?’
          ‘Well I had to see where my feet were on the pedals, and then find the gear stick, and then peer in the rear-view mirror, then look for the lever to signal and then somehow look over my shoulder.  I mean, I can’t look everywhere can I?  There’s just soooooo much to think about.’
          ‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘but it’s quite important you check there’s nothing in front of you too.  Difficult I know,’ I assured, ‘but you know…somewhat essential.’
          The next driving lesson is Tuesday.  Let’s hope progress is made into second gear and more attention given to what’s on the other side of the windscreen.  Which reminds me.
          A man saw an advertisement for a driving school that claimed it could teach anyone to drive a car in ten minutes. He telephoned the school and asked, ‘How can you possibly teach anyone to drive in just ten minutes?’  ‘Easy,’ replied the driving school’s telephonist, ‘it’s a crash course…’

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