Friday, 26 March 2010

Road hogs

In the Nota Bene family, we have a good record of passing our driving tests - all of us have managed it first time having spent relatively small amounts of money on lessons. With Grandmother In Cyprus learning to drive was a necessity...and I'm not sure she has ever really enjoyed it, but needs must...especially now that she lives in a country where a car is the only realistic way of getting to a shop. And when I sit in the passenger seat I feel I am in safe hands.

My brother was car-crazy from a very young age, and I suspect he could drive before he could walk. He could certainly drive before he took his 11-plus. I wouldn't like to hazard a guess as to whether he took advantage of this skill at such a young age - I do remember him sitting on our father's lap when he was small enough that his legs couldn't reach the pedals. But he could steer and change gear. Naturally as a very practical lad, he could also fix engines with ease. A very helpful skill. Since then he has raced all sorts of cars.

I was altogether different.

Taking an academic approach, I was a car enthusiast and could tell you every model in every range from every manufacturer any where in the world. I could also tell you which were the good cars and which were rubbish - I knew because I'd read all the test drives and their word was gospel. I didn't understand it when my cousin claimed that you can't really know what a good car is until you've put your foot on the accelerator pedal. Pah! I passed my driving test whilst at University...I learnt in a Mini (as did everyone in those days, before they got posh) and I liked it as the front of the car went up when the clutch reached its biting point. My test was fine even though I did manage to get in a queue for a car park in the middle of it. I also managed to pass my motorcycle test first time some seven or eight years ago.

In the not too distant future it will be the boy's turn to learn. He has a too much of an interest in motorcycles...but I've sternly told him he's not allowed one until he's 35. And at that age he still will not be too big to put over my knee if he defies me. He is now to be found every morning sitting in the driving seat of the car, waiting to leave. He turns on the engine 'to warm it up' he says. Reluctantly, he climbs in the back seat when it is time to go. This morning though, the wait was a little too long, and that left him fiddling. With the gear stick. Just as I was walking in front of it. I jumped a mile. He looked sheepish...but with a big grin on his face. He won't be doing that again. Mind you, as it's a Toyota, I feel a call to the media followed by a call to my lawyers will elicit vast compensation...I'm sure it must have been the accelerator that stuck.