Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Unlike most people my age, I cannot drive a car...but recently I have been toying with rectifying this. I flit between thinking this is the most independent thing I could do and gut wrenching anxiety at the thought of controlling a tonne of speeding metal, mixed with a splash of embarrassment that something others find so easy is beyond me.

I was heartened by the recent Guardian article by Hannah Pool describing her attempts to learn to drive aged 35. Older, cooler people with proper jobs also haven't grasped this seemingly basic skill and are willing to take to the crazed streets of London to learn. Surely I could do the same?

Serendipitously a driving licence renewal form dropped through my letter box the other week for a former tenant of my flat, saving me the opportunity to procrastinate about phoning the DVLA myself. It seemed meant to be until I looked at the price for a new provisional licence. £50 seems like a lot to me, until I remind myself it would be useful to have a second form of photo ID in Big Brother Britain.

I then checked a few driving schools to get an idea of the cost of lessons and nearly fainted. The going rate is about £25 an hour. Things have changed a lot since I was 17 when I seem to recall they were about £12. Kicking myself that I hadn't just learned when I was younger and had a parent's car to practise in, I estimated it was going to cost me at least £500 to get on the road. Money well spent you'd think except I'm still not going to be on the road...

I certainly can't afford to buy and run a car. I have to wait a year to be allowed to hire a car and the various car sharing schemes in London are insanely expensive. Plus, based on previous experience, driving is about the most stressful thing I have ever willingly done. I'll have spent a small fortune and still be taking the bus everywhere. Is it really worth it? Should I give myself the chance to increase my carbon footprint four-fold just for the sake of being able to write 'full driving licence' on my future CV?

I have never learned to drive for 2 reasons. First and foremost, I have never really needed to. I could count on the fingers of both hands how often I have thought having a car would be useful (this closely correlates to the number of times I have been to Ikea.) Generally any time I think fondly about cars is when I'm waiting for a seemingly invisible nightbus in the rain in February, and chances are I've had a drink and wouldn't be getting into a car anyway...I grew up in a city, I still live in a city, driving was never as vital to having a social life as if I lived in the wilds . I'm perfectly happy to take public transport and the odd taxi and never spend my time looking for a parking space. At least, I can have a cigarette and people watch at the bus stop...

The other reason I have never learned to drive is that it fills with me with equal amounts of fear and dread. I find incredibly difficult to co-ordinate my hands and feet at the same time (yes, I am terrible at using a sewing machine and dancing since you ask.) My spatial awareness is sorely lacking and I am terrified of the other drivers on the road. I went through 3 driving instructors previously (and one hedge if you're counting) and had the most memorable fights of my life with my mother behind the wheels of a Citroen Saxo...although in defense of my mother, teaching a stroppy teenager to drive in the car belonging to the man you are currently divorcing probably isn't the most enjoyable afternoon going...

I think I'll wait until the days are longer again before I make a decision about getting behind the wheel. Nerves and dark nights definitely don't mix, plus it gives you all the chance to check out which roads I'll be using and be able to avoid them!


  1. Keep the faith!


    Another Non-Driver xx

  2. Oops! Link = Fail.

    Just google "Cha Sa-soon".