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I'm really pleased that people seem to like the new collection of seasonal stories 'A Christmas Cracker ' .  This latest 5 sta...

Sunday, 8 September 2013

It's not what you know....

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




It seemed to me that everyone I knew was passing their Driving Test and getting out on the road, so I just had to try my luck.  My friends, Kevin and Peter, who now shared a flat above The Compasses in Wellington Road, had jointly invested in a Mark II Cortina of many different shades of green and Kevin was pursuing driving lessons with a charming lady instructor (he would) and was getting on like a house on fire.  Logic should have told me to go with Kevin's choice of instructor, given how well he was doing, but instead I asked my dad for advice.  This was always a mistake.  Whereas anyone else might consult the Yellow Pages or ask around for recommendations, dad always 'knew' someone.    My dad 'knew' people in the same way that hedgehogs have fleas, it was just in his DNA.

The person that dad 'knew' was a fellow imbiber at our local club.  I don't think we knew whether he was any good as a Driving Instructor (although he had been in the game for quite a while), the important thing, from dad's point of view, was that he was someone he 'knew'.  We approached him and he agreed to take me on, and so a first lesson was booked for the following Saturday afternoon.

I remember that I was in a state of high anticipation all week.  When Saturday finally arrived, it was a beautiful sunny early summer's day, with not a cloud in the sky.  Geoff (as we'll call him, to protect the guilty) drove me out to a point just beyond The Acorn at the top of Henhurst Hill (sorry, it's a Burtonian thing to couch all directions in terms of the nearby pubs!)  We changed places and I was behind the wheel for the first time in my life.

Geoff talked me through the controls of the car with particular reference to the action of the clutch and the importance of the 'biting point'.  Then it was time to set off.  Peering cautiously in all directions to make sure there was nothing coming in any direction, I over-revved the engine, brought the clutch up with great timidity, and we were off.  To my surprise, I didn't make a bad job of it.  Starting to drive is a bit like being thrown into a juggling act, there are so many things to keep doing that you don't have time to think.  Despite this, I managed to steer ok and Geoff actually congratulated me on my road positioning.  Perhaps I had finally found something I was good at?

I think I've mentioned before my theory about 'beginner's luck'?  It goes like this; when you try something new, your subconscious mind goes in search of similar experiences to inform your actions.  If this is something you've never done before, then it inevitably comes up empty.  So, all it can draw on are any memories it has of other people doing the same thing, and these are pretty likely to be good examples.  For golf, your mind might refer to what it's seen Tiger Woods do in the past and therefore help you to mimic that(ish).  With driving, it would probably draw on the many professional drivers (bus, taxi etc.) it had seen (whilst hopefully discounting my dad's somewhat troubled approach).  Therefore, unburdened by any previous experience, our efforts are guided by the best practice picked up unconsciously by our minds.  It doesn't last.

We sailed around the country roads and I was beginning to enjoy myself.  Coming back into Burton along Henhurst Hill and Shobnall Road, I weaved cautiously around the parked cars and frequently stopped to let the approaching traffic through.  "Windy" Geoff muttered, which I thought was a bit gung-ho considering this was my first time behind a wheel.  As we neared The Albion pub, Geoff said "Can you just pull in here, I need to see a chap about something", so we did.  I parked up and he disappeared into the pub for ten minutes.  I thought this was a bit odd, but decided that it was just a one-off. 

It wasn't, as I'll tell you next time.

Continued in It's The Waiting That's The Worst

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