Ahead of schedule, I had my first driving lesson in a wind-swept and sea-spray-soaked car park at Freshwater Bay on Sunday. C. and S. popped round to visit at lunchtime bearing carrot cake for a recovering J., who is home for just a few days, and C. took me out in the Honda, introducing me to Mr Accelerator, Miss Brake, and Master Clutch. C. kept full control of Mrs Handbrake… and described the feel of the rest of the controls as depressingly agricultural. Perhaps that’s fitting for an island of tractor drivers.
I don’t know how drivers deal with so many controls and with looking all around them in mirrors and such, and as a cyclist I have newfound caution for cars because clearly many of the elderly drivers of the area can’t cope and have sight issues too.
Still, I managed several circuits of the car park without hitting anything, and with only a few slightly abrupt stops caused by unfamiliarity with the brake. I’m used to a simple brake-clutch and throttle (which I hold up with one knee) on the ride-on mower and that’s it. And I reckon that for now I go faster on the mower.
Based on the assumption that drivers need one lesson for every year of their life, I still have 47 to go. Which depressingly means a test probably won’t loom until well into next year.
One curiosity of car insurance that this episode has thrown up is that adding my name to J.’s insurance policy ended up reducing our premium by 25 quid a year, rather than increasing it. I guess that age has some advantages.