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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Driving Offences

From yesterday's Day and Night magazine in the Irish Independent

I haven't sat behind the wheel of a car since I was 18-years-old. I had received a gift of paid driving lessons for the birthday that marked my entry into manhood, and what better signifier of manhood could there have been than revving through town in a suped-up boy racer sexmobile with head-thumping, 'untz untz' music blaring out the windows? I was going to be so frickin' cool.

The first lesson went well – mainly because it involved just being stationary in the driving seat, getting used to the clutch and accelerator, and, you know, not driving. Lesson two, we practiced stop-starts, and then it was out to an undulating road to master uphill ignition.

It was all going fine until the instructor made me drive through the city centre. I freaked out, forgot everything he taught me, conked out several times and idiotically took my eyes off the road on more than one occasion.

The final straw came when I took the training car – which might as well have had stabilisers –up on a path and a young mother and her offspring had to literally jump into some bushes for safety. The instructor pulled me over and took the keys out of the ignition. My teenage boy racer fantasy was over.

Ever since then, I've deployed an exhaustive catalogue of reasons (PR-speak for 'excuses') as to why I've never gone back to get my licence: I was too busy with college, I had no money, no family member was willing to risk their life by getting in a car with me, and so on.

But now that I'm in my late twenties (that still doesn't sound right), my reasons are beginning to wear thin. Up until now, I wittily deflected the topic of not being able to drive with my cutesy line, 'I don't drive, dear, I'm driven', which was a variation on my, 'I don't queue, I'm queued for' bon mot that I wheel out whenever I have to wait in line for anything.

For me, learning to drive was filed away in the 'Things to Do By The Time I'm 30' folder, along with writing a book, taking up pilates, learning Spanish, living abroad, and finally getting round to playing a Wii.

I figured that when I finally made up my mind to get this driving thing done, I would buy a car, and the very sight of it sitting there, unused, wasting my money, would propel me into action. But that plan doesn't seem any closer to fruition either, even though I have various people telling me that I have to learn now before I get 'the fear' and lose my nerve.

The funny thing is, it would make a lot of sense for me to get my licence, seeing as I am Ireland's – nay, Europe's – number one critic of public transport, upon which I'm tragically dependent. I'm going to give myself an ulcer one of these days ranting and raving about buses and trains, and pursuing my one-man campaign for an EU-wide harmonisation of public bus timetables so ours can be more like the punctual Germans.

In that regard, it would be logical for me to take my transportation destiny into my own hands, but the other illogical, lazy side of me asks why bother, when I can just harness and exploit the enthusiasm of recently-licensed friends, who are so ready and willing to drive you anywhere for any reason just so they can get behind the wheel. It makes them happy and it gets me where I need to be, so we all win. I'm such a giver.

Maybe I'll just leave getting a car for another 20 years, when I can use the inevitable mid-life-crisis as my cover for trying to be a boy racer in a flashy, over-compensatory vehicle one more time.

1 comment:

Gav said...

At least you didn't almost kill Henry Shefflin like a certain youngest Brennan. The Ormonde School of Motoring didn't know what had hit it!