Driving ambition


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!



  1. Louise April 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal
    Welcome to the QVC family. A very welcome and, if I may say, handsome addition to the team.
    As a guest for the chocolates, you did not persuade me to buy anything, not because of your presenting skills, I just don’t eat chocolate or any sweet stuff!
    Like you, I don’t drive. This is not because I don’t want to; being able to drive and to have a car would make life and especially commuting to and from work a lot easier. I am epileptic and have to have at least one seizure – free year before I can apply for a provisional licence. Not being a motorist does limit one’s independence rather. But my mum is great; even though I am 44, she still takes me to work when I can’t get a bus. What would we do without them?
    I suppose the advantage of not being a driver is that I avoid the extreme expense associated with cars.
    One thing, Miceal, try and keep up with your blogs; we do look forward to reading them. Debs Flint is brilliant at it, but some presenters – and they will be the first to admit it – don’t blog as often as they feel they ought!
    We don’t know too much about you, Micael, so maybe you can give us some info? Are you married, do you have any pets, brothers or sisters?
    Take care.

  2. Anna April 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal, great to see a new face on QVC – you seem to be fitting in nicely 🙂
    I was fairly late to the world of driving, having not started lessons until I was nearly 24. I just had to tell you though, that I absolutely, completely empathise with this little passage: “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!” – I too am more often than not off in my own little dream world, distracted by anything and everything, and couldn’t ever imagine how I’d learn to concentrate enough to be a safe driver, and so I never bothered. I discovered though, once I started learning, that as soon as you sit behind the wheel, all thoughts of anything but the road ahead are put squarely out of mind!!
    All my friends learnt the very second they turned 17, and I was frowned upon by some of them for having not done so. But no matter. One day I decided, out of the blue (and boredom) that I was going to learn to drive! It took me a whole year from first lesson to practical test, but I passed my test first time and I haven’t looked back since – it is such a liberating feeling.
    I wish you all the very best with your driving ambitions! It’s great fun, so enjoy yourself – and be sure to keep us updated with your progress!
    My kindest regards,
    Anna 🙂

  3. Sarah Platt April 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm -  Reply

    I am 41 and don’t drive!! I did learn in my early 20s and failed twice and I hated every minute of it!! I too have a short attention span and found it difficlt to concentrate on EVERYTHING you are meant too whilst driving!! My mum at 73 has never driven or even attempted to learn and she has managed perfectly fine!! Given the rising cost of everything but especially petrol etc I am going to stick to using my feet!!! but I wish you all the luck in the world.

  4. Nicola Rippon April 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal,
    I’m in my early forties and I don’t drive and never have. Neither of my parents drive, or ever have. For me it just never ‘happened’ and, in retrospect (after discovering how bad I am at ‘driving’ anything on even a computer game) it’s probably the safer option (for me and the rest of the population)! I’m lucky because I’ve always lived near a great bus route and am more than happy not to have to spend hundreds of pounds a month on fuel! Much cheaper to use the bus and the occasional taxi when necessary! I never have to be the designated driver, and I won’t have to pay for a parking permit when our local authority brings in the much-needed residents-only parking zone in our lane later this year. But this afternoon I really wished I’d had access to a car – because I was stuck in a little Peak District village 25 miles from home (after a pub lunch, I must admit) when the one bus an hour failed to arrive. I was beginning to wonder whether I’d get back in time to receive my online supermarket delivery (see, don’t need a car for a big shop either!) but eventually it turned up (40 minutes late). I’d’ve happily forgone my glass of wine to get out of the stiff breeze!
    Hope your lessons go well. I’m pretty sure you’re still young enough to pick it up quickly enough. And, yes, I may be biased!

  5. jacqui stephenson April 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm -  Reply

    hi miceal
    i cant drive either and i am nearly 50!.like you i lost my dad at a fairly early age and my mum doesnt drive either .
    so i do understand where you are coming from.
    my friend and colleague recently passed his driving test at the age of 49!,so i guess there is hope for all us non drivers!.
    i wish you every success in your lessons .iam sure that you will keep us all posted on your progress.
    with best wishes

  6. Una April 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal
    As an almost 50 year old, I have never driven either. I had lessons, but hated it with a passion. I get bored so easily, and couldnt see the point of having to go up all the gears, just to go back down again. Way too much energy. Im also too nosey, and its amazing the shoes and bags you can spot on a short drive!!!
    Ive always managed to get to where I had to be on public transport! Granted, not always without incident (see Ali Ks recent blogs!!!!!) and dont feel Ive ever missed out.
    My friend runs a driving school and is adamant that one day shes going to get me behind the wheel, Im hoping she takes bets soon!!!
    Hope you have settled into your new job and enjoying it.
    Una x
    PS. good luck with the lessons.

  7. sylvia April 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal
    Please learn to drive Miceal,you will never regret it.Infact you will wonder how you ever got by without a car.I learned to drive when I was about nineteen and I will be turning 50 this year so I am very used to driving and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I ever did.Go on Miceal and let us all know when you pass as I think you are more than capable.You have made a very good presenter so far.So keep smiling and Take Care.x

  8. Angela Riley April 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal, no problem with not driving I am in my 50’s and never learned. I just don’t have enough interest to push me to learn unlike my sister who couldn’t wait to drive. I only think it would be a good idea when I am waiting for a bus in the freezing cold and it doesn’t turn up on time. Not being able to drive hasn’t stopped me doing anything it just takes a little more thought and planning.
    It does frustrate my friend sometimes though as not only don’t I drive I don’t drink either so she still has to be the designated driver.
    Good luck with the lessons and good luck at QVC

  9. Debz April 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal
    I am 40 something and have never learned to drive. I applied for my provisional licence at 17 but then never had lessons. My then boyfriend took me out in his car and I used to practise driving on industrial estates and carparks but never had the confidence to drive on the open road as I had quite enough hair-raising moments on industrial estates thank you!! Once I nearly hit a skip – I honestly didn’t see it!! Also I almost drove into a canal, again, I didn’t see it!!
    Now I often wished I’d learned to drive as I don’t get out much as since moving house, we aren’t really on a main bus route so I am quite isolated.
    My partners dad is a driving instructor and a few years ago he took me on a lesson on a quite road that he starts his nervous pupils on. Well, it was a disaster!! I do swear a bit when I’m scared and my partner’s dad is a Christian so I had the double worry of: 1) not killing us both and 2) not swearing and offending him for life!! Funnily enough he never has suggested another lesson!!
    Seriously Miceal, good luck with learning to drive. I’m sure you will be fine.
    By the way, you are a lovely addition to the QVC family!
    Debz. XXXX

  10. Ruth April 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm -  Reply

    Hey Miceal! I learned to drive when I was 39, eight years ago, and I can’t believe I left it so late – I just can’t imagine life without my car now! I can assure you, you will NEVER regret learning to drive – go for it! Get these lessons booked. Best wishes, Ruth

  11. Ms Janet Porter April 18, 2011 at 11:53 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal and welcome to QVC UK.
    I learned to drive at the age of 40. I did have lessons when I was teenager however after failing 3 tests I abandoned the idea and to be truthful I was only learning to drive in the first place due to peer pressure. It is a long story which I won’t go into detail how I came about driving again, however, I never looked back once I passed my test. It gave me so much freedom and I absolutely adore driving, it has never lost it’s thril l for me. My Son has just passed his test at the age of 22 and as he is physically disabled it is wonderful for him to be more mobile and independant….only trouble is we have to toss a coin to see who gets to drive…hahaha.
    Anyway, good luck with your lessons and I wish you well as a QVC presenter.
    Janet Porter

  12. VeeM April 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal, welcome to QVC, lovely to meet you on our screens. Just reading about your secret… and thought it must be fact you are nearly 40! You certainly don’t look it – are you using Gatineau?! You should be presenting the beauty products for skincare shows x

  13. Miceal April 28, 2011 at 10:45 am -  Reply

    Thank you all for your stories and comments. I have found many of them really inspiring. More than anything else, its just reassuring to know that I am not the only one out there who has left it a little bit late in life to get started.
    But, you know what they say, ‘its never too late’.
    To be honest I still haven’t booked my first lesson. I am heading off to New york for a week with my mum and my sister to visit my nephew next week (see my blog, Plane Stressful) and I figured what with that and work I should leave it until I got back.
    I have toyed with the idea of doing, please excuse the term, a ‘crash course’. Thinking I should just go away and learn really intensively over the course of a week. I am not sure that is the best option for me though, but it does appeal to the impatient side of me!
    If any of you have tried the ‘crash course’ method or know anyone who has I would love to hear any feedback as i am still uncertain.
    In the meantime I am planning to at least make a start with my first lesson when I get back, who knows where it could lead me.
    I will keep you posted.

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