Sunday driver


Sunday morning at the industrial estate, a solitary blue car lurches almost to a stop and then kangaroo hops down the road before coming to a stalled halt.

“You were just a bit slow with the clutch there,” I say calmly. Then I wind down the window because I am getting a bit hot.

I am giving teenage son his first driving lesson. We have done a bit of theory and now he is finding, as he will find in many things, that the practice is a lot harder.

“OK. Select neutral… Neutral. That is third… Good. Check that the handbrake is on. Now start the engine. Let’s try again.”

We proceed in short, wobbly lines. Stopping and starting. He begins to get the hang of it. I find out that the car has an alarm which sounds if you drive with the handbrake on.

“Good… good… accelerate… now into second…Second…Clutch…CLUTCH… … Never mind. Handbrake. Select neutral…”

After thirty-five minutes we are both ready for a rest.

“Right. Last time. Drive from here up to the red fence and then pull up alongside the kerb… Mirror… good… Signal… good… accelerate… good… Steady… Oops.”

We come to rest with two wheels on the pavement. At that moment a police car rounds the corner ahead and drives slowly past. The two officers give me a sympathetic grin. Or maybe they were laughing.

5 Responses to “Sunday driver”

  1. 1 Andy F

    Ah sounds familiar as I teach my 17-year old daughter to drive, however I got the first few issues out of the way by ensuring she had some professional drving lessons before I started. I have discovered that as each time we go out, her driving is better and my nervousness is less and I have to talk less, I take that as a good sign. This is where the quiet Norfolk lanes come into their own, as it forces the student into driving slowly, making lots of gear changes, thinking about road position and being very hazard aware and usually there is very little traffic about.

  2. 2 Steve M

    As a teenager, to teach me the rudiments of car control, my father used to take me to a disused airfield where there was lots of tarmac surrounded by grass. No kerbs, lamposts, or solid objects to collide with. Now, if only Norfolk had a disused airfield or two available for parents to use to teach their offspring.

    • Hmm Steve, are you being ironic? I can count about a dozen disused airfields on the local map, but none of them accessible to a driver. Most of them seem to house sheds full of tightly-packed and unhappy chickens.

      If anyone knows a driveable Norfolk airfield please let me know!

      • 4 Steve M

        I was going for a touch of irony. With the RAF being reduced in size it did cross my mind that there must be at least one unused airfield somewhere in Norfolk that would be ideal for the purpose, yet not available. Coltishall being the prime suspect.

        This thought, maybe, was also prompted by having spent all day Monday at Tibenham Glider airfield on a (motorbike) training session organised by Think! Norfolk.

  3. 5 Camilla

    Both our sons learned their first clutch control on Eye airfield (apologies, it is just over the border in Suffolk). There are large signs saying No access, but on a nice afternoon the main hazard is avoiding other learners… so I don’t think the signs were much of a deterrent. (I haven’t been there for over a year though).,1.122494&spn=0.026593,0.072355&t=h&z=14&msid=210164234324003665100.0004a4027e80cff0da1f8

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