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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Keeping Death Off The Roads!

Continuing the story that began with An 'L' of a Time

Learner_driver : L Plate on Vehicle Rear Stock Photo

At the end of my driving lesson, I booked the next for the following weekend and then spent the week undoing all of the good work I had achieved.  You may remember that last time I was expounding my theory of 'beginner's luck', in which the subconscious hunts around for examples of good practice in the absence of any previous experience to go on?  I don't know about you, but I always find that the price to be paid for a session of 'beginner's luck' is an instalment of 'follow-up failure'. 

I spent the week between my first and second driving lessons carefully going over and over again, in my mind, what happened.  Common sense would say that, in doing this, you should focus on the positive aspects of the lesson and try to build on these, but I just don't seem to work like that.  My mind always homes in on any negative remarks and dwells on these to the exclusion of everything else.  You may recall that my driving instructor has praised my road positioning but had described me as 'windy' for hanging back behind parked vehicles when other traffic was coming in the opposite direction.   Therefore, I spent the week going over and over in my mind how I could be more assertive in my driving, which led me to think deeply about biting points and clutch use, steering and indicators and the whole panoply of driving related actions.  Not unsurprisingly, after a week of this, I was like a coiled spring and, by the following Saturday, would have been hard pushed to put one foot in front of the other without serious injury, let alone control something as complex as a car.

Once again, I was waiting by our front room window, getting increasingly anxious as the hour approached.  As it turned out, I really need not have worried.  Not because the lesson went well, but because it didn't happen at all. 

As the appointed hour came and went, I peered this way and that in the hope of seeing the car arrive.  It didn't.  Half an hour passed, and then an hour, and still no sign.  In this modern age of instant connectivity, this sort of situation would be incomprehensible but then, in the absence of mobile telephones, or any phone at all in our case, it was by no means unusual.  Dad, took it upon himself to go and telephone from the call box, although the cynic in me suggested that this was a heaven-sent opportunity for him to escape to the pub.  Much later, he returned with the story of some sort of mistake having been made in the diary, with apologies all round.  The lesson would now be the same time, the following week.

Driving a car is not like riding a bicycle or swimming.  This is not the first in a series of statements of the blindingly obvious, just an observation that in those two cases, once you've 'got it', you've 'got it'.  That's not the case with driving; you need to keep practicing to etch the actions into your subconscious so that it all becomes automatic.   As we didn't have a car at the time, practicing was out of the question, so all I could do was wait anxiously for the next lesson.

I was delighted when Geoff, my driving instructor, actually put in an appearance the following Saturday.  Ok, he was a quarter of an hour late, but at least he had shown up.  If I was delighted, that certainly did not describe Geoff's mood after a couple of minutes.  Clearly he had been led into a false sense of security by my previous efforts and had expected a simple, smooth path to test success.  As we kangarooed our way to the nearest test route, it was clear that he was going to have an uphill struggle with me.  Therefore, it was no surprise to be asked to stop at a pub on the way home as he just had to "see someone about something".


You can find all Philip's books at either his UK Amazon Author Page or at the Author Page