I have a secret. I have had it for some time and it's starting to get a little bit embarrassing. Now, I may be making a bigger deal of it than necessary but at my age, almost 40, most people are a little surprised when they find out about it. I really don't know why, because it seems perfectly normal and reasonable to me!
My secret is out though, all because of something that arrived in the post recently in a plain brown envelope with no distinctive markings. I thought it would be safe and no one would know, but as I tore open the envelope, curious to see what was inside, the contents spilled out on the floor in front of one of my friends and my secret was out. You see, what was inside my envelope was… my Provisional Driving Licence!
There it is: I can't drive. It's not that I don't drive because of some incident involving reckless behaviour and a subsequent driving ban. No, it's simply that I have never learned. Sound familiar to any of you?
My teenage years passed by without my ever learning. My mother didn't drive either because that was my dad's job, and because he died when I was only 5, any hope of having a parent to show me how to drive died with him unfortunately.
Growing up, all of my friends could drive and either had regular acccess to their parents' cars or were fortunate enough to have been given a car by their parents, not something that was ever going to happen for me.
Driving lessons weren't really an option because my part-time job spent collecting glasses in the bar of my local football club paid me the king's ransom of £2.50 per hour and that wasn't really going to cover the costs of the dozens of lessons I believed I would need.
Which brings me to my next reason I didn't learn to drive…
I just didn't see myself as a driver. I don't know if this makes any sense to anyone other than me, but I just couldn't ever visualise myself owning a car and sitting behind the wheel, being responsible and observant, doing my 'mirror, signal, manoeuvre' routines without being distracted by the world at large. You see I am very easily distracted. I am like a Jackdaw - put something shiny in my eyeline and I'm immediately looking at that instead of the road ahead of me, which is fine as a passenger, but not so great when you are meant to be a responsible driver!
All that and I haven't even gotten to my feelings regarding the impact to the environment of having another car on the road, polluting the atmosphere and clogging up the road networks and how that fills me with horror.
That said, the time has come to bite the bullet.
As I'm turning 40 this June, I have started to think about the future - not before time, I hear you and my mother shouting. I live in London at the moment so there is great public transport, but I don't always want to live in the middle of a noisy, crowded, busy city so I have started to see myself living in the country or by the sea and as such needing to have a car.
I have gone from not being able to visualise myself owning a car to my not being able to visualise a future without one. It does feel quite strange to have had such a u-turn in my thinking, but actually liberating as well. The idea of days out, tootling along country roads in my, hopefully, electric or environmentally friendly car fills me with such joy. It's opening up the possibilities of a whole new world as yet unexplored. I know this is a wholly idealised view of the world. Yes, you will find me wearing my rose-tinted glasses when I am driving!
What interests me though is whether or not I am alone in this late conversion to driving? Surely I can't be unique in this. If you have taken up the driving habit later than the rest of the world, I would love to hear from you. And if you have any tips for the late learning then by all means forward them on.
In the meantime, I still have to book my first lesson! Well it only took me almost 40 years to get my Provisional Licence, so it shouldn't take too long to get my first lesson booked, should it?
Watch this space!