Yesterday I went to Hereford. Ironic, really, that for the five years I lived in Herefordshire I never drove to Hereford. I drove back once, after a party when I was designated driver, but never drove there. Until after we moved. That’s the problem with moving house when you have a four year old who needs to go to the hospital for regular eye checks. I am now hoping we get registered with a new doctor, get an appointment and a referral to a local hospital before his next appointment in four weeks. It could happen.
The thing is, I really hate driving, and avoid it whenever possible. I am lucky to be married to a man who likes driving and is quite happy even if the destination is Provence. Particularly if the destination is Provence. I don’t know quite why I dislike driving so much. Possibly it’s a combination of things.
I never wanted to learn. I always though that the proliferation of the motor vehicle has led to many of the ills of our society. From burning fossil fuels to the death of the high street, from traffic chaos on the school run to the loss of local bus routes, but when I lived in Fleet and worked in Camberley I had to learn to drive. I realised that I either drove for half an hour to get to work, or got the first bus at 6.15, two trains (with a walk between Farnborough Main and Farnborough North) then a 20 minute walk down the edge of the A331 (which has no footpath) getting to work 20 minutes late. I started lessons but my natural contrariness made me start them resentfully.
Then the other problem appeared. I hate being watched doing anything I’m not good at. This is not good during a driving lesson! Feeling observed made me much more likely to stall, grind the gears or just be generally rubbish. It’s amazing I passed my test, given that I was almost more focused on the fact of the examiner ticking boxes (or not) than which lane I was supposed to be in. Still, I did pass, but the feeling of unpleasantness never left.
So I drive as little as possible. It’s silly really, and I have frequently thought that I should do something about it. Make myself go on long drives, or go on an advanced driving course, or practice reversing into increasingly small spaces, just so I know I can. Whether I would still be able to if I thought someone was watching, I don’t know!
At least when my kids ask for demonstrations of my love I can say, ‘I love you enough to drive you to Hereford!’ and it actually means something.