I took my first steps into a strange and terrifying new world yesterday. Although, "steps" is, in fact, entirely the wrong word to use. For, you see, at the tender age of thirty three years old, I took my first driving lesson.
Actually, that's not strictly true. I did take several driving lessons just as I turned seventeen but, for various reasons, I stopped and somehow never got back round to them. Living generally within swift commuting distance of London, there didn't seem to be a huge amount of need for it and I've got by for the last sixteen years without it. Of course, situations change and the time has come to put aside thy pedestrian ways and get thee behind the wheel.
First impressions? Fear, mainly. Having told the instructor that I'd had a few lessons many years back, I was pretty much plunged straight into driving the car, although we swiftly moved to a new location once he realised that the road was very narrow and my steering was atrocious.
So why fear, then? Well, not so much for myself and my own abilities (my steering improved throughout the two hours) but for something which all you drivers probably mostly take for granted - the sheer number of external factors that you need to concentrate on at every single moment. Oncoming traffic, following traffic, mind that bus, look out, pedestrian danger, cyclist, cyclist, etc., etc. All while doing things inside the vehicle to make it go, go faster, slow down or stop.
One advantage is that I have had a few lessons way back in the day and the instructor said that some of that knowledge is still locked away in there, ready to leap to the fore again. And he was confident enough in my improvement to let me drive all the way back. Let's just hope I don't forget it all in the intervening week...