Being a fugitive from justice is a stressful experience. I know, because I experienced this. I experienced it briefly, just for a nano-second, in the REM dream state that most of us experience just before we wake up. My crime? I was caught on camera driving down a North American highway. I was over the speed limit by one mile an hour and caught without a licence. For this, I now faced extradition and a life in a penal colony. On the up side, it was not likely to be a long life under these circumstances. While I waited for my good fortune, in having woken up, to sink in, there was tea.
I confess to having a bit of a green eye when it comes to driving. It used to be, that as my peers got wheels, I got more and more frustrated at the limits that not being able to drive apparently placed on me. What I know now, but I didn’t know then, was that we all exercise our freedoms differently and pay for our freedoms in different ways.
Sometimes you have to ask for what you need. Sometimes you have to queue for it, sometimes, you get rained on while you wait and sometimes everything goes wonderfully well. What you will never have to do is worry about losing your no claims bonus, scratching your paintwork or remembering to have a blanket and a shovel in your boot in case you are forced to spend the night in your car buried under a snow drift.
Now all of this does not mean I have not been tempted to speed down the wide open roads of South Dakota. I did once judder down the narrow lanes of #Danbury Ring in a #mini maxi. It was a short lived stint behind the wheel and culminated in close contact with a hedge.
The Son gave me an off road driving experience. It turns out that this is a popular gift from Mothers to their teenage sons. Despite the Son’s advance phone call, there was still some incredulity that it was me, not him, here to loop my way around a disused aerodrome.
After a safety briefing, the teenage boys and me made our way to our cars. It’s wasn’t a formula one start. No running permitted and rather more anoraks than could fit into a high performance model. Then came the explanation of steering wheels, brakes and so forth, all delivered in a tone of total tedium by the instructor. He did not appear to share my excitement at the prospect of driving round in circles with someone who couldn’t see the road ahead.
I think I was a natural. “ewww. Speedy Gonzalez……slow down” the instructor said. I did but speed is relative. Of course, I didn’t have the advantage of his view. Pot holes, it transpires, are more exciting if tackled head on than avoided. There is something exhilarating about notching it up a gear. Power steering is a must. The chicane is thrilling if all you have is voice commands to go on. When being driven by someone who can’t see where they are going, have a safe word like “Stop”. Duel controls are a must.
Next time I’m getting an automatic. All that notching it up a gear made my left leg ache for days afterwards.
Meantime, day to day freedoms are exercised on foot, on buses, on trains and taxis. The joy of this approach is that I’m not sitting in my car on my own, but enjoying snippets of other people’s lives and lots of fabulous conversations with strangers that I might not otherwise have had. I’m the richer for it.