One of this year's Not Really Resolutions was to get behind the wheel of a car again. I passed my test when I was 17 and have never driven again so lessons were a must. This was a not really resolution that I thought would be nice, but upon moving to my current home has become a must. I've been able to get away without driving for so long because I have been living in cities with public transport links. Now I live in what to me is the middle of nowhere and I cannot get anywhere without my sister giving me a lift.
So I plucked up the courage, got my license renewed, asked around and found a local instructor. As the day drew near, the fear began to grow. There's a reason you learn to drive when you're 17. You are fearless and excited to be a grown-up and you can sense freedom isn't far away. When you're learning to drive when you're 30 you are all too aware you're in a machine of death and that the streets and roads are paved with lunatics hellbent on getting in your way.
"Oh it's just like riding a bike" people would say. Really? Tell me this then - would you rather I hit you with a bike I hadn't pedalled on in 12 years or a car I haven't driven in for 12 years? Exactly. Metal death traps.
Funnily enough it is like riding a bike and after a quick re-familiarisation I was off, actually driving in an actual car on the actual road! I remembered how to change gear! I remembered to check my mirrors! I remembered everything, apart from the art of gentle braking.
You see, I just don't trust the car to actually stop. I start off ok, I gently press down and the car responds and begins to slow. It goes slower and slower and slower and then I am overcome with panic that this car, which is now travelling at 3mph is somehow going to career out of control and destroy everything, so I slam my foot down on the already overly sensitive brake, bringing the car to an almighty standstill. Did you know you can do an emergency stop when the car is going that slowly? Well you can.
I was euphoric after my first lesson though. I could do this! I was a whizz! I'd be on the motorway in no time! I vainly reckoned it would be about 5 lessons and I'd be road ready. This week I will have my first lesson and we will be practicing, in my instructor's own words, "stopping and starting." So yeah...probably more than five lessons.
This appears to be my major problem at the moment. I'm Mrs Cool when I'm driving, as in literally driving on the roads - the second I have to stop at a junction, or some traffic lights, or my arch nemesis, the roundabout, and all hell breaks loose in my head. I can't remember if I'm lifting my foot off the brake or the clutch first, what direction I'm supposed to be going in or what I'm supposed to be doing with that stick in my left hand.
I shouldn't be so harsh on myself, I am basically learning to drive and obviously that takes more than five lessons, but still...there's a long road to travel just yet.