After B was first diagnosed and had his driver’s license revoked by the DVLA, I wrote of my horror at becoming the ‘designated driver’ in the household.
Almost a year on, my mild driving phobia has all but disappeared. I’ve become accustomed to driving in London. I’ve driven all over the country on our weekends away and it hasn’t bothered me a bit. I don’t even understand my previous fear of the motorway. I’ll never enjoy navigating central London and the Marble Arch roundabout still has the ability to cause heart palpitations but I think that is fairly normal.
There are a few reasons for my newfound confidence. One is the fact that B never criticises my driving. I could hit a herd of deer and he’d remain unflappable in the passenger seat.
Another is that although I do all the driving, I’m spared all of the hassle related to car ownership. B takes care of the registration, the servicing, the MOT, the insurance, the parking permit. He’s the one who gets out and fills it up with petrol. All I do is get in and drive.
A third factor is our car, which is fast and reliable. German of course. Whenever I marvel to B at my ability to scale hills and overtake lorries, he fails to be impressed. This is because B missed out on one of life’s essential experiences – owning a shit car.
My previous cars have, almost without exception, been shit. Here is a part-catalogue of my former vehicles:
- A Mitsubishi Colt that blew so much smoke from the exhaust that fellow motorists would wave their arms around and have coughing fits when I passed by (this was my first car, affectionately referred to by my family as ‘the lemon’)
- A Renault Clio with an intermittent electrical fault that caused it to completely cut out – anywhere, without warning
- A Seat Leon whose doors filled up with water when it rained, causing it to slosh like a bathtub in motion
B’s previous car was a BMW convertible and when he lived in Germany he didn’t own a car. He has never had to do a ‘run up’ to get over a hill. He has never phoned his dad from the side of the road and blubbed ‘I need <hic> HELP!’
My dad fulfilled that enviable role for me and my sisters for many years. It’s probably one of the reasons he’s ok with the fact that I live in London and he lives in Adelaide, although I did replace him with official roadside assistance a long time ago. He also never gets to harass me about not checking the water/oil/tyre pressure these days. I don’t check them – that’s what the Volkswagen garage is for.