Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Driving Miss Jayne

A while back I got a car. This is my car:

I first took a driving test in 1993. Yikes! My mum crashed her car (with me in it) the previous day. I should have cancelled my test but didn’t, which, considering I’d spent the previous evening in hospital, was really, really stupid. Needless to say I failed (rather miserably) and then I gave up driving as couldn’t afford any more lessons. There was no need, I told myself, cars were expensive, other people drove, my work was easier to get to by trains and tubes.

But I always wanted to be The Jayne That Drives! I could see myself being the Jayne that drives – she zips around in classic cars with picnic baskets in the boot and goes on day trips to the beach. The Jayne that drives is a confident, go-getter sort of person, someone who makes things happen. The Jayne that doesn’t drive isn’t any of these things.

A conversational door closes when you don’t drive. It is hard to join in with talk on cars – petrol, makes, driving, distances. It depends whether you are someone who notices such things, but I am, and while it didn’t bother me at first, slowly I felt the distance lengthen.

Then I became the Jayne That Drives and the distance disappeared as if it was never there. My first foray was to the supermarket and coffee shop – I swung my car keys and bought my take-out coffee and suddenly felt part of something new. It felt good.

So far I have made only short forays, and have grinned with each new accomplishment. I parked in a car park! I found my windscreen-wipers! I put petrol in! I drove the cats to the vet! I made up a very silly driving song! (‘This is the driving song / You can sing along / But you can’t because you’re a cat / And that’s the end of that!’)

Tonight I’m off to see a friend and it will be the longest car journey yet. (Ten whole miles!) I have no sat-nav (or map) so have printed out large text directions to glance at if stuck. Although all will be fine, today has been spent needlessly worrying along the lines of:

1. Being in the wrong lane and ending up on the M25
2. Not being able to get off the M25 and ending up in a giant circle vortex
3. Getting totally lost
4. Breaking down
5. Not being able to change lanes on the A10
6. Changing lanes badly thus causing an accident
7. Not being able to see due to Sweat of Fear
8. Driving back in the dark
9. Missing the turn for A10 and getting stuck on the roundabout
10. Drivers beeping at me and road raging

That’s about it so far. Give me another hour and I’ll prob be able to write ten more!

When did you start driving? Where did you go on your first journey?

Update: Did the journey! All went very well. Yeay!


Maria Zannini said...

Congratulations on joining the driving race.

I never had any interest in driving growing up in Chicago. It was too crowded, impossible to find parking and there was mass transportation everywhere.

But then I moved to Texas and life changed forever. I had to learn how to drive at 20 years old on hubby's prized MGB. But that's another story of danger and intrigue:

Christine Rains said...

Great post and congratulations! It took me five tries to get my driver's license. Not because I was a bad driver, but because I was so nervous. I always aced the written test, but I don't do well on physical tests in front of people. I love taking road trips. My husband loves to drive too. Unfortunately, my son hates being strapped in the car. Hopefully he'll learn to love taking a drive and we can go on more road trips.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

My father taught me to drive in the car park of a local shopping mall. On Sundays, when no one was around. The absence of other cars didn't seem to alleviate his terror at the sight of me behind the wheel and he never let me go over about 4 miles an hour. My mother, on the other hand, got me out on the freeways, doing 70. Somewhere between the two, I learned to be pretty fearless. Of course, The Songwriter drives whenever we're in Britain, my job being to scream loudly, "Look Right, Look Right" whenever we pull out into the street, a job I perform with exuberance.

Fran said...

I only learned to drive in my late 20s and I never really warmed to it - mind you, living around the edge of London probably had something to do with it. I don't have a car now. Perhaps when I'm old and decrepit I will have to start again ...

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

I had to laugh while reading your post. I came late to driving, too, because I couldn't afford a car while paying off student loans. My husband taught me to drive, and then I was like a teenager getting the car: Do we need anything from the pharmacy? Do you need me to run any errands? (As in drive. . . ) I think I forgot to get milk. . . . I just loved driving. I still do.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie Gates said...

Such an interesting topic to explore! I learned to drive in Virginia, where I grew up, and I got my license and access to the family car at 16. But I moved to NYC for college and the 11 years that followed, so my driving was limited during those years. When I first moved to L.A., I used to get a queasy stomach as I'd approach freeway ramps. I was so intimidated! Now, 21 years later, it's old news. BTW, about 7-8 years ago, I either learned or came up with a wonderful tactic to use when you're on a freeway/interstate and someone's tailing you a bit too close and/or you see traffic slowing ahead: Put on your hazard lights! The person or people behind you will slow down immediately.

mise said...

Well done! I came to driving Late In Life and am still proud of my ground-covering accomplishments, although roundabouts still put the fear of God into me. You will shoot past me like all the others any day now; I know it. I shall smile bravely and wave.

Old Kitty said...

Enjoy your driving and GOOD LUCK!! Of course you will do this and do this with style too!! Yay!!

I for one don't know how to drive or have the inclination to as I make for a very nervous passenger when in a car so I know I'd make for an easily panicked driver!! Most definitely Sweat of Fear contender! :-)

Take care

Happy Frog and I said...

Congratulations Jayne and great post also. I passed my car driving test on the 2nd attempt when I was 17. Myself and an aunt remember a paricularly terrifying trip to Milton Keynes Bowl from London to see ZZ Top play. Aged 25 I passed my motorbike test on the 3rd attempt. I'm not good at tests but I've so far not had any points or any problems when out. Just goes to show :-)

Melody said...

Ah, I've been there! :) Haha, actually I am there. Twenty years old and license-less. But we're working toward it...ish... :)

penandpaints said...

Well done Jayne, glad your journey was a success!
I have been driving for 12 years and I still get nervous especially of motorways that I'm not used to. I only ever go up and down two different motorways for about five miles either way. So, would you believe, I actually took a left instead of a right at a motorway roundabout when I was visiting my mum, who only lives 10 miles away?! I have been there a zillion times! (hubby always drove me though). I was so embarrassed, my youngest was in the car with me and said..'err is this the right way?'. The journey ended up taking about an hour instead of ten minutes.
Never mind, it's great to have the freedom to go the wrong way!
I really hate practical tests though, passed second time, but had an 8 year gap in between them to recover from the failure.
I've got my motorbike licence too (hubby's idea) but I'm glad I did! :)

Misha said...

Congrats on becoming Jayne that drives!

The first journey I took after getting my license was 180 km back to university. :-)

Kittie Howard said...

What a zippy, fun post, Jayne! You made my morning. Seriously!

Congrats on getting your car. I hope you have lots of interesting trips and little traffic. My mother taught me to drive years ago on a country road. But I still don't have a sense of direction and still get lost, lol!

Dolly said...

I picture you in a roadster, travelling down to Cornwall Miss Jayne. It seems the sort of thing a Novice Novelist would do. Wearing driving gloves. I can't drive, never had the urge, never felt the need. Though I dream of owning a camper van one day and toodling off to live in Amalfi in it. Guess I would need to drive for this particular dream :)

Maria Mercer Adams said...

I was 16, but in the states cars are more of a necessity due to our terrible public transportation (it is slowly getting better, but only in some cities). The best part was being able to drive my best friend and I up to the Appalachian Mountains of northern Georgia. So beautiful. We got lost, but made it home eventually. It was brilliant.

L.A Speedwing said...

Interesting post. I laughed at number 7.
I wouldn't be to comfortable at driving in the dark either. And in the rain.

TirzahLaughs said...

I come from the land of no public transportation. If you don't drive, you wait until your mother, brother or friend can drive or you stay home.

My mother used to cry and grab the steering wheel when I was trying to learn to drive. I believe she was screaming that I'd get killed.

So when I was 19, my brother got me to baby sit all summer and taught me to drive in trade.

Thank God.

snafu said...

I first drove around age nine or so, when I could reach the pedals and see out. My father ran a small village garage so I was not on the road. He was also a driving instructor and when I was old enough to get a licence,I was his first failure. I took three tests and then was on the road all day and everyday, working for a TV repair company.