Saturday, 8 October 2011

stalled (oh yes)

This may not be too inspiring for those about to sit behind a wheel. Also there will be swearing. I would like to say this was an overexaggeration but sadly I am one anxious anna.

My little brother who teases me endlessly for not being a driver. Just so you know bro - I have far more embarrassing photographs of you - check out that bow-tie waistcoat combo.

So I am now safely ensconced in a (hopefully) delicious cottage somewhere in Sussex and I guess I feel brave enough to post about my first driving lesson. 

I stood by our front gate barely able to breathe. The fear, the fear.* My palms were sweaty (I hadn't eaten my Mom's spaghetti*).

I was so happy he was late. I thought he had forgotten. I was relieved.

And then he pootled around the corner. I thought I was going to be sick.

I sat in the passenger seat and "we" drove to Learner's Lane (definitely not as much fun as Lover's Lane). He then made me do something obscene. He made me sit in the driver's seat. I thought I was going to cry.

We talked about the car for about half a hour but I was acutely aware of what this whole rigmarole was leading towards. I fear I heard not a word of his explanation of engine temperature or windscreen wipers. It was like an out of body experience as I floated out of the car and saw myself sitting rigidly upright trying not to touch the steering wheel or pedals.

Then he stopped talking. I wish he would continue but he refused. My stomach disappeared.

I had to turn the key in the ignition.***

Now forgive me if I get things wrong now because I really cannot remember how to drive a car.

I know I stalled a lot. 

I know that I fear the accelerator. I know that I like the brake - when I can stroke it gently enough. I know that my legs hurt from holding my legs up in the air to avoid being anywhere near the pedals. Yes anna it is ok to put your feet on the floor, you idiot!

However I do know that I made around 30 very happy left hand turns and a couple of rather shocking ones. A couple of hill starts and actually probably broke the speed limit at one point. (Well I may not have but it certainly felt like it.)

I learnt that people are rather mean to learner drivers but I guess it will be their fault if they drive into me. Although seriously is the big awful sign on top of the car just an invitation to drive your giant green lorry a metre away from my brake lights? I realise I am going a little more slowly than you would like but for fuck's sake - I am a freakin' learner. Suck it up.

When he let me stop I was overjoyed but then he made me drive again and I almost cried. I say almost. I mean there were tears in my eyes, I was sweating like a beast and my heart felt it were burst into ventricular fibrillation (that's not a good thing!). I just wanted him to say stop. He just wouldn't let me and perhaps more importantly I didn't let myself. So I actually kept driving. Round and round in an ever increasing circle onto the big scary road (in reality a very not big scary road but it had a scary bollards for me to avoid!) and then into third gear. Oh why can we not just stay in second? Second is nice.

And then my 2 hours were up. I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I felt.

I don't think I have ever yearned for alcohol but as I managed to drag my legs out of the car I yearned for vodka. So much vodka. My hands were shaking. The autonomic overload was impressive. A case study in anxiety I believe. I didn't have a drink in the end. I though that 1pm was a little early to drown my sorrows. Perhaps not next time.

However you know what. Despite the nausea, the glowing-ness, the tachycardia and the feelings of dread I actually booked another lesson. I am not looking forward to it but I know I need to do it. I know that I need to try. I may still fail but I'm trying (oh yes, I'm very trying!).

Also I didn't kill anyone. I actually didn't kill anyone. 100% record intact.

See you this time next week? I will be feeling sick again I'm sure!

I would like to say the fear stemmed from me being a grown-up aware of the risks when driving but I most definitely felt the same at 17.
**Yes I'm an idiot.
*** Don't worry I had done all the mirrors and pedals and shit.


  1. Oh Anna! I know how you feel! Strangely enough I loved to drive, had driven for about 5 years till I moved to England about 6 years ago and only driven a hand full of times. I guess you could say London is so well connected who needs a car? Sadly though, I now too dread driving only because of the madness that are London roads. (& Hub's confident driving zipping in and out of traffic doesn't help to calm my nerves!) I have however decided to bite the bullet and take some driving lessons again, ease myself back into the joys of driving. It does make such an live change. Being independent and having the option of going anywhere you like, so it really is a positive and I commend you for trying :)

    My only suggestion is why not be kind to yourself and learn in an automatic sooooooo much easier and less stressful and once you get the hang of it try a manual ?

    All the best with the lessons Anna! & no doubt you will triumph! :)

    Fanni x

  2. Well done!! Honestly, it's not just you - EVERYONE has no clue what they're doing when they start to learn to drive. The dickhead in the big green lorry, your instructor - they will have pootled about in second and stalled and done bunny jumps along the road, then slowly but surely they will have got better and better, until it starts to feel like you've been doing it forever. You will get there, and the most important thing is that you've taken the first step. You should be really proud of yourself! xx


So, I really love all the sweet and/or informative comments that you lovelies leave. Yet if you feel the need to be unnecessarily rude or offensive I will delete your comment and not feel bad about it. So just be constructive alright! Hugs to all you wondrous others.


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