Driven to distraction


Miceal on his first driving lesson

Finally, I managed to book a driving lesson for myself. After much faffing and procrastinating I took the plunge. I had all kinds of great plans for researching the best driving instructor company and checking their pass rates etc, but in the end so much time had gone by that I just booked the first one that came up in my online search!

So yesterday I got behind the wheel of a car. I assumed that I would be filled with trepidation and nerves but on the day I was so busy and distracted that I just wanted to get on with it so that I could get on with the next thing I had on my very long list of things to do. Distraction is my weak spot, it happens so easily!

Actually, in this instance it probably helped me as I didn't feel nervous at all… until I was actually behind the wheel and the car started moving that is, and I suddenly realised that I was responsible for this big heavy machine with a powerful motor in it.

My driving instructor was called Lee, and quite obviously at least 10 years younger than me. Not that I have a problem with anyone being younger than me, but you know what its like when you are feeling vulnerable, the last thing you want is some young whippersnapper telling you what to do. As it turned out Lee was a really nice bloke and took everything in his stride.

First, we covered the basics. I learned how to prepare the car and do my observations, how to pull away from the kerb, drive off safely, change gears….etc. Hey, I can do this, I thought. All was going well at this point until the instructor casually asked me to pull over.

I had a moment of controlled panic because he hadn't actually explained how to pull over, or maybe he had and I was thinking about my dinner at the time (I hadn't eaten since breakfast, hours before). You see, easily distracted, its always getting me in trouble!

I started to panic about pulling over. I know it seems a ridiculous thing to say because what's really involved in pulling over to the side of the road, I mean I knew where the brake was and how to use it but I think I got a bit distracted (there it is again) thinking how great I was with my driving ability and didn't realise I was going to have safely come to a stop at some point.

I panicked.

All I can say is that it was a good job we were both wearing our seatbelts! The poor kerb on the other hand bore the brunt of my first attempt at parking and the wheel of the car groaned in annoyance as well.

Still, I did it and I am glad I did it. I have been putting it off for weeks. Besides it can't have been that bad, I have asked another two hour lesson for next week! (Assuming I don't get distracted and forget that I've booked it that is.)

Watch this space.


  1. Sharon Gasparutti June 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm -  Reply

    Good luck with the driving lessons Miceal, I know how you felt about the driving as I have the same problem although at the moment I’m not having any lessons as I have a full time job caring for mum who turned 91 last month and she has a multitude of health problems including vascular dementia. But I have promised myself that the times and she’s no longer around here I’ll already know who to call as the driving instructor I know has loads of patience..Mind you she’ll need it for me!

  2. Risa Walker June 6, 2011 at 11:07 am -  Reply

    Hope you are learning to drive in an automatic car Miceal – you will curse constantly having to change gears in heavy London traffic! Two tips for you – at a roundabout don’t ever bother looking at the traffic going around the roundabout until you are in the front of the queue. I have seen a number of fender benders due to drivers watching the cars going around and then putting their foot on it when they see a space – mistakenly assuming the car in front of them has already driven off! Secondly when you are driving along, never worry what the car behind you is doing – my instructor wisely told me to keep my eyes on the road ahead. Keeps me chilled – esp when you get fools driving super close behind you 🙂 Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

  3. Shirley June 9, 2011 at 10:37 pm -  Reply

    On my first lesson I nearly drove into a ditch! As I was turning left I could see a motorbike heading towards us I panicked and oversteered to the left! I did most of my learning in the countryside and still prefer to drive on lanes rather than town roads and hate ringroads. I did pass my test first time though – when I got home from the test my hubby would not let me in as he did not believe me! (He failed his first attempt). I have read that you need a lesson for every year of your age – I had about 21 lessons and was 21! When my younger daughter wanted to learn to drive she was too nervous to get in the drivers seat so she had lessons in a simulator which really helped her get confident to get behind the wheel- she now drives all over the country. Good luck with your lessons and keep reading the highway code. Shirley

  4. Darren Filby October 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm -  Reply

    Best of luck with your training and forthcoming test. Learning to drive isn’t quite as easy as many think it is, especially in London, so plenty of good quality training is vital to success. As a driving instructor and very happy QVC customer myself, if you need any help, information or advice, feel free to drop me a line. Take a look at a driving test marking sheet, as it shows you all the categories you are marked on. Observation, mirrors and forward planning are key. Darren PS I love my Click Free. Best invention ever! (

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