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"Here in my car", said 80s pop hero Gary Numan, "I feel safest of all". He obviously never shared the same stretch of road as me, then. Automotive tales of mirth and woe, please.

(, Thu 22 Apr 2010, 12:34)
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I am far too old to not drive.
I am also far too skint to drive, far too irresponsible to drive (in my more lucid moments the idea of some lunatic from the Ministry of Transport granting me the right to mow down pedestrians with a ton and a half of metal frankly terrifies me; if I ever do get a driving license I may just frame it), it is quite possible I have a residual base alcohol level that would cause a breathalyser to commit suicide, and most importantly I am literally too much of a spastic to drive.
Epilepsy removes you from motoring society until you've spent two years without ever once bouncing around on the floor like a tasered, vomiting, angry octopus; although given the considerations above I am in no rush to meet their conditions anyway.
I am fortunate enough to reside in an attractive city with excellent public transport and everything within walking distance (well...actually I live in Glasgow; I was only born in the aforesaid burgh).

As a result of all this, I have been behind the wheel of a car exactly three times. The first time was in our old white Ford Escort estate, when my mother, in an uncharacteristic bout of drunkenness, decided she was going to teach me how to drive. I politely (read; in mortal terror for everyone in a 50 yard radius, not least myself) declined to even turn the key in the ignition.

The third time was out on a drive with my girlfriend-at-the-time. Our drives are in fact my fondest memories of driving-related activities; where family drives down south to meet the relatives had stress, deadlines and arguments, my drives with her had meandering routes and pleasant scenery; where family drives had luggage poking you in the side of the head and bad cafe food, driving with the girflriend had smoking, music and illicit activities in laybys at night.

On one occasion out in the Borders, she persuaded me to slide into the front seat, take the wheel and showed me the arcane mysteries of the clutch and gearstick. Then when that was finished, she tried to persuade me to drive the car (a massive Volvo tank) along a deserted stretch of road. There was nothing but hills in every direction, but I was understandably nervous because of attempt two. I have to say...I don't know how people do it.
The feeling of turning the wheel ever so slightly and feeling the mass of metal you're used to as a non driver just rolling along in the same way as a bus or train obey your commands, speeding up or slowing down as you move your feet gently is quite frankly bloody unnerving. The fact that she was rather younger than me and was completely at home with all this also made me feel like a complete n00b. I gave it up shortly after I got a rabbit stuck in the tyres. Did you know small furry animals make an audible 'pop' when you flatten them? Usually you're travelling too fast to hear it.

The second time I was put in control was easily the best, though. And by 'best' I mean 'worst', which is why I saved it till last. Family holiday, campsite, a few years after the first attempt, my mum decided to try and teach me to drive again. We were parked in a kind of grassy enclosure, near the tent, and surrounded on three sides with trees. I'm fairly sure she was inebriated again. I just about mastered getting the engine in gear*, letting out the clutch and getting the car into reverse...oh no, wait, that's not reverse. How am I supposed to tell the difference between the gears?
The car leapt forward much, much faster than I was comfortable with...for about six feet, and bent the front bonnet into a neat V about a third of the way from one edge. I can't remember exactly what happened, because as the vehicle so elegantly nutted the tree in front of us, I did the same with the steering wheel. I was quickly ushered into the tent before any of the other hippies campers could see what had happened. I don't know if there's any specific charges that could have been brought against my mum...drunk in charge of someone in charge of a motor vehicle? Anyway, driving home for 400 miles at a maximum speed of fifty lest the engine go bang, with the massively deformed bonnet lashed down with rope to stop it trying to be the windscreen was fun. I started playing 'count how many cars pass us' with my brothers, but we got bored around the 600 mark.

Also, probably as a result of my mother's sheer embarrassment, I completely escaped being reprimanded for completely buggering the engine, bonnet, wings and headlights. God knows how much it cost them to repair.

So that's my driving experience. I own a bike (the pedal kind). I never use that either.

*I know I was using car terms as sexual references a moment before. I'm not here. That was your mum.
(, Mon 26 Apr 2010, 0:37, 2 replies)
tasered, vomiting angry octopus
(, Mon 26 Apr 2010, 0:43, closed)
Oh thank god
I thought I was the only one who never learned how to drive.
I can drive white-knuckled at a snail's pace down a street when I really have to, but other than that I'm useless.
(, Mon 26 Apr 2010, 2:00, closed)

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