Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Unfurling Fingers

It has taken me well over 24 hours to recover from yesterday morning's driving lesson. Only now are my hands beginning to unfurl from their vice-like grip after having been at the steering wheel for the first time in four years. I’m peeling my fingers back, vertebra by vertebra. Not a pretty picture.

My driving instructor does not appear to be the crazy eyed, pantie sniffer who drinks pints of orphan’s tears that I was expecting. From my first lesson I have come to the conclusion that he is, in fact, a very nice gentleman. The kind of gentle giant who spends his free time lovingly wrapping bandages on the paws of injured puppies and who smells of Werther’s Originals. His name is Scott.

I sat in the driver’s seat, a yard away from my own house. Scott said that because it was only an hour long lesson there was no point in driving anywhere further when we could just practice going up and down my own street. I cringed with humiliation. It was bad enough having neighbours twitching their curtains and watching as I got into a Learner car, but displaying my start-stop-start clutch control for all and sundry and accidentally mounting curbs in front of everyone was sheer torture for me. Why? Asks Scott. Because I am the only person in this village over the age of 17 who can't drive.

So up and down Charles Avenue we went, stalling and juttering and turning on the windscreen wipers instead of the indicator. I even tried out a three point turn which turned into a 6 point turn but that's great compared to my record of a 24 point turn. All in all I suppose I did alright for a first go. Scott even had enough confidence in me to allow me onto the high street in our village; that was rather exciting. I drove at 32 mph all the way. I felt like a rebel.

I won’t lie though. It is still horrifying to look around and realise it is me who is in control of an entire vehicle. I had the fear of God in me, which is why I held onto the steering wheel as if I was grasping on for dear life.

My instructor advised me to try out a few practice theory tests online. Signs, rules of the road, speed limits etc. I failed. Several times over. Now, I’m sorry but I’m pretty sure the majority of people who drive and have been driving for years could not tell you what half of these signs are. I mean, in the name of the wee blue man!

So let’s see how road savvy some of you are. Just for the laugh.

What do these signs mean?






T.D. Newton said...

Well, I'm an American, so I have no idea what those signs mean (but at least I have an excuse) except that the last one might mean "windy area."

Driving isn't something inherent, it's something that you need to practice to get better at (just like everything else). Don't feel bad about NEEDING to learn!

Teuchter said...

I didn't learn to drive until I was considerably older than you are now. The main reason for the delay was that I was just too feart.
Then it slowly dawned on me that if all those other eejits could drive, perhaps I could too - and indeed I did. And passed my test at the first attempt. Yaay me.

Mind you, it took several lessons before my arm and leg muscles stopped hurting for days from all the tension.

Being able to drive opens up a whole new world of independence.

Go Princesse!

Jane said...

Ach, you'll be grand princesse, i just know it. I've been driving now for a scarily long time but back in the day I too had steering-wheel claw for the first wee while. I think everyone does.

As for the road signs I'm probably going to prove you're theory right about drivers not knowing their arse from the signposted elbow.

Humiliating admissions of ignorance here we come...
1) Is it a diversion route?
2) Warning of severe humpty road coming up?
3) Railway crossing type thingy?
4) Warning of strong crosswinds?

Obviously "humpty road" is the technical term...

Jane said...

PS Sorry for my sloppy typos...inappropriate use of an apostrophe should never be condoned...


Ghosty said...

Oh, no, this American is driving in your country! Run! He interprets the signs as:

1. There's a manhole ahead! Or, perhaps a full moon is overhead, how romantic.

2. Watch out for the speed bumps that are so big they can jam up a truck!

3. X marks the spot! Dig here for the treasure!

4. Winds will be blowing from the left. Or, watch for people's laundry blowing off the line in this neighborhood.

Ah, don't feel too badly about it all ... I didn't learn to dive until I was 23.

Ghosty said...

DRIVE. I didn't learn to DRIVE until I was 23. I was diving much earlier than that. :S

Jez said...

1. Dunno - but it's a yellow sign so might be something to do with a diversion, or an event.
2. Speed bumps - unsuitable for long vehicles
3. Level crossing (rail)
4. Side winds

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Ha! This was fun! None of you got them all correct but some of you did get pretty close so well done! And kudos go to Ghosty for ... well for being Ghosty! Here are the official answers;

number 1 - special diversion route

number 2 -risk of grounding

number 3 - a level railway crossing without a barrier

Jez it's good to hear from you, how is Despina doing? Send her my love!

number 4 - crosswinds

T.D. Newton said...

What is "grounding"

Princesse Ecossaise said...

I have no idea!!!!!

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I keep failing?

Lis of the North said...

It means articulated lorries carrying big boxes stuck on bumps ahead.

Good luck with your driving lessons m'dear. I love having a driving licence. Having a car makes one fat and lazy, but having a driving licence makes one independent.

And remember, it's a "turn in the road using forward and reverse gears" so you can go back and forward as much as you like!! x

sylvie d said...

et me know when you take The Arc De Triomphe for the first time! That's fun!

Princesse Ecossaise said...

ARRRGH I won't even sit in the passenger seat at l'Arc de Triomphe! I shall be avoiding that area without a doubt! even the thought of it sends a shiver down my spine!