Monday 29 March 2021

Thinking about Driving

Driving is expensive. It burns fossil fuel. It is not strictly necessary in a Scottish urban environment. My husband is anti-car, and I would probably be just as anti-car if I didn't grow up with a car, and then two cars, in the driveway. But I did, and now I am very sorry I didn't take driving lessons at 16, when I was too young to think about how scary driving was. I thought about organising my lessons myself, but I had a phobia about talking to strangers on the phone. 

The fact is, I would like to learn to drive because I'm frightened of driving, and I'm tried of being frightened of driving. (I overcame the fear of speaking to strangers on the phone some decades ago.) As I can read papal encyclicals in Polish (with a dictionary), surely I can learn to drive. 

The problem is that I don't want to drive in the UK. I want to drive in Europe, when the time comes. My tentative retirement plans involve driving throughout Poland, to see "real Poland" (as eastern Poles call it) and small-town Italy. 

Driving to Europe would mean driving down to Newcastle, taking the ferry to Holland and then driving to Poland or Italy, which B.A. points out is not very cost effective. It would also entail switching from driving on the wrong left side of the road to the right, and this really burns me up, for if I had learned to drive in Canada, driving in Italy or Poland would be a relative doddle. 

That said, train travel in the UK is hella expensive, and it would be a joy just to drive where we want to go.  Perhaps B.A. would enjoy working out the mathematics to prove that insurance + car club membership + petrol is in fact more expensive than train travel. 

Any decision about learning to drive has to be put off, however, as commercial driving lessons are currently prohibited in Scotland. If I were Queen of the World, and would not be immediately forced into an expensive hotel quarantine upon arrival in Canada, and then again upon return to Scotland, I would go to Toronto, get a learner's license, do an immersive driving course and practise with my parents' smaller car. Maybe that is what I will, in fact, do one day--unless someone convinces me that this is a ridiculous thing to do, given that I live in a country where everyone drives on the wrong left side of the road.    

Update: Another factor is that the European continent has a widespread--and cheaper--network of trains. After retirement, it might be much cheaper to travel even in the UK by train than by private automobile.  


  1. Just learn to drive in rural Quebec. By law, we drive on the right but in *my* region, people just drive on whatever.

  2. I think your brother is right. I learned to drive when I was 22 and got my license, but while I was working on my dissertation I forgot to renew it. And then ON came in with such stringent new rules that I haven't tried to get it again, tho' I plan to now. Don't know if your bro's advice is practical but it might be - who knows? One feels so much more independent when one can drive, even when one has no car.

    1. Ultimate message is learn to drive, even if you don't choose to get or else to keep your license. It's a skill worth having.