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Monday, 16 September 2013

It's the waiting that's the worst

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

I would dearly love to take a group of youngsters back to the 1970s and see how they would cope.  I realise I would probably get arrested, but that isn't really my point.  It's just so difficult, from today's perspective, to understand how totally disconnected we were then.  No internet, no mobile phones, no computers and only the wealthy and aspiring had a telephone at home - and even that might be a party line (which was not as much fun as it sounds). 

Just think about how difficult it used to be to find anything out.  If you were really keen you could take yourself off to the Reference Library, or consult your copy of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, if you had been badgered into buying a set.  Now you can find out pretty much anything at any time.  Admittedly the answer might have been made up by some precocious child in a back room in Alabama, but at least you can get an answer of sorts.

The rationale for this outburst is that it would be very difficult for today's youngsters to believe the amount of futile waiting around that I did, simply in the hope of actually getting a driving lesson.  I must have spent hours peering out of our front room window, in the vain hope of seeing my driving instructor arrive.  To be fair, part of the reason that my lessons were so sporadic was because I couldn't afford to have a lesson every week, but the principal problem was that, even when a lesson had been organised, there was absolutely no guarantee that my driving instructor would turn up, either on time, or at all.

There were phone calls, of course, and chats when I caught up with him at our local hostelry, but there were always mitigating circumstances for his not turning up, and it's always so difficult to take a strong line about something when you knew the person before they started working for you. 

The end result of all of this was that, after twelve months of allegedly 'learning to drive', I had taken part in precisely six lessons, with huge gaps in between, and was not really much further advanced in my skills than I had been at the start.  Meanwhile, in the same period, my mate Kevin had completed a course of lessons with his attractive female instructor and had passed his Driving Test first time.  Not that I was jealous, of course, but it was rather embarrassing to have to admit that I had been 'learning to drive' for over a year and was nowhere near ready to take a test.

In the end, my driving instructor and I just drifted apart (I don't mean that the car split down the middle).  He didn't turn up for a lesson, again, and this time I didn't pursue it.  Nothing was ever said, although our paths crossed on many occasions afterwards.  I just couldn't see the point in investing any more money to wait around in my front room, or spend part of my lesson sitting in a pub car park.

What confidence I might have had at the start of my driving tuition had, by now, long since deserted me and I really wasn't sure if I wanted to carry on at all.  However, after some months of watching Kevin enjoy the freedom of the open road, whilst I endured the poverty of the pavement, I decided to take my courage in my hands and have another go. 

This time, I was going to sort out my own driving instructor.  I approached the driving school that Kevin had used, in the hope of getting the same attractive female.  Unfortunately, not having much in the way of self-confidence, I couldn't actually bring myself to ask for her and just hoped that luck would be on my side. 

The bad news was, I didn't get the attractive driving instructor.  The good news was that I got her husband, who was a larger than life character and great fun to be with, as I'll tell you next time.


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