I was a late starter with my driving lessons. Although I had my first when I was 18 years old in England. A mate of my dad would take me for a driving lesson on Sunday morning. I remember he had a car with the gear lever behind the steering wheel, probably to have the bench seat at the front. Anyhow it was something and nothing. Changing gears and breaking - any fool can do that, but steering. Now that is something to be practiced.
Many years later, after being married for some time and having a growing family we once had a problem. We were on holiday in the Bernese overland and Mr. Swiss had to go into hospital. I was stranded somewhere between the cows and a village with one little supermarket, and Mr. Swiss was in a hospital a half hour away by mountain bus, which only went about once an hour. Eventually Mr. Swiss was let out of the hospital, but I realised that if I had been able to drive a car, life would have been much easier at that time. I was really stranded with children, my english parents and had to make a go of things on foot.
I decided that it was now or never, so after we arrived home I reported for driving lessons. I was actually more at home with a car with lefthand drive as in Switzerland as I preferred changing gears with the right hand. The driving instructor soon discovered that although I was quick to understand the workings of a car, the steering wheel was a weak point. Anyhow to cut a long dismal story short, after about ninety driving lessons I was entered for the driving test. It was the week before we were off on holiday to the alps in the Valais part of Switzerland, around Crans Montana.
On the day of my test, my instructor said not to throw hope away, but the person who was testing me was the driving tester who had the record for being the worst in the area (living in a small place, everyone knows everyone else). I decided to keep my mouth shut and just drive. It seemed to pay off as I passed the first time (did I see my driving instructor make a cross in the air behind the examiner's back when I nodded yes, I did it?).
That was many years ago - 22.07.1982.
I even managed to drive up the mountain roads to untold heights on our holiday. I think it was the euphorie of passing the test, that gave me my daredevil talent. I drove everywhere. Motorways were no problem, my first big journey was with my oldest son to the Basel Zoo. I only look at the zoo now on photos. Of course I had to have my own car. Mr. Swiss drove a Simca at that time, and so I bought a second hand Fiat Top 127. A caramel coloured sweet little car, that would fit in any little space, even if you couldn't steer the car properly (yes, I still had problems).
In the meanwhile Mr. Swiss was working for Volvo (the people that make giant Swedish cars) but I still had my little Fiat, although had then progressed to a Panda and afterwards a Uno. I was then driving about 12 kilometers a day, to and from work and to the supermarket at lunch time to shop and eat lunch.
Mr. Swiss being a few years older than me, was soon retired so we had to make a decision keep the Volvo S90 or my sweet little Fiat that fitted in any little parking space. The answer was obvious and my fate was sealed. I now drove to work in an automatic Volvo S90 and my sweet little Fiat was no longer wanted.
The funny thing is that over the many years I was driving this monster car, I got used to it, to the extent that changing gears was a thing of the past. I was now a fully automatic driver. Even had power steering, so that problem was out of the way. I still couldn't steer, but it was less energy needed.
Today we are both golden oldies and still have a Volvo. So who drives. I never really enjoyed driving, so most of the time I leave it to my other half, the problem being that when you don't drive for a few months you tend to forget how to. We had a arrangement that I would drive home from our shopping trip, but I sort of got out of it when I could. I just do not enjoy driving.
Now I have had to face the fact, that this is not so good. Situtations can arise where I really should drive, so I am slowly but surely getting into the routine again. I have noticed that all the road directions have changed over the years. Roundabouts have been built everywhere, new motorways have been devloped and things are just not like they used to be. I now go to Tai Chi lessons once a week and discovered that the place where I go takes an hour to get there by local train and bus, but just 5 minutes by car, so now I have had to pull myself together and do the thing that has to be done. I have to park on a local supermarket place where places are few and far between. My favourite places are the ones where you have three empty next to each other. Then I can take the middle one. Unfortunately this is not the case, and I have to manoevre my Volvo (I think a V50) into a place where my little Fiat would have had space to spare at the two sides. I also have space to spare with my V50, but I have to fit the car exactly in the middle.
So life goes on, on four wheels. Tomorrow morning I am off to an early morning appointment at the docs, all on my own - but I can do it - I hope.