Where Did You Learn To Drive

1959_singer_gazelle1IMAGE_editedWe often hear some one say “where did that idiot learn to drive”???Not an unusual question in this world of mass automotive transport. Well this idiot (the writer) learned to drive in Belfast in 1954. All that was required back then was to be 15 years of age, apply for license and no test was needed. Shortly after getting my license I joined the Royal Navy. In Singapore I took my first test and gained an Admiralty license. I later drove a Jeep in Australia and a V8 Ford in New Zealand. In both case I was driving with the steering wheel on the left while driving on the left side of the road. Once back in Belfast in 1958 I was informed I could not renew my 1954 license and had to take a driving test, I passed. From 1958 until 1964 I continued to drive right hand drive vehicles. In 1964 I arrived on the shores of Canada and found myself back on the other side of the road again. The first car I purchased in Halifax was a 1956 Chev for $100, but I had to ask the salesman how to drive an automatic? first one I had ever seen.  For the next forty or more years I drove quite safely and happily in left hand drive cars. Driving had become second nature and I had thoroughly mastered the automatic transmission. Linda and I visited the UK in 2006, we rented a car on the Isle of Wight.  I’m not sure if my readers will appreciate how narrow the roads are there. They are really narrow with mostly walls built from rocks lining both sides. No ditches into which one could dive when facing a large oncoming bus. After that short island expedition I no longer wanted to drive so Linda took over. In Portsmouth we rented another car and I especially ask for a very small one considering the size of the roads. Linda managed much better than I, she doesn’t tend to get up tight like I do. Nevertheless she too had her problems, especially on roundabouts,  England seems to have one at every intersection. In Bristol we turned onto a major highway only to find we were heading straight for a double decker bus, we were on the wrong side of the road. The problems were much the same in Ireland. Driving the Ring of Kerry was particularly nerve racking for me the passenger as I look over the sheer drop to the ocean directly outside my window. We survived the motoring adventure and returned safely to Canada a few weeks later.  However, I have decided I can no longer drive in the UK, my nerves can’t take it. I constantly looked in the wrong place for the rear view mirror, not a big problem you say!!. Well it is at 70mph when changing lanes on a very busy British motorway. The mirror not withstanding, it was equally dangerous when I put the indicator in gear instead of the gear shift. Old habits are hard to break so I think I will just stick to driving on our Island roads along side all the other idiots.  If you are offended by this last remark, you must be one of those drivers I was referring to. Cheers
God Bless and keep reading

About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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2 Responses to Where Did You Learn To Drive

  1. baconburner says:

    Your Driving Blog today reminded me of the day of my Marriage in Scotland. North of Aberdeen. My wives uncle had to rent the car for me as I was only 21 and the rule of the day was 25 years to rent. He rented us a 1956 Rover. After leaving the dinner and dance and heading for our Honey moon hotel. I too used the turn signal indicator as opposed to the gearshift. Narrow roads Whew we made it by a lick of Paint past a fish Lorry heading to London.
    Great days great time. One other story we were posted back to Germany from Ontario. 1968 I had just purchase a 1968 Pontiac Bonneville. Very wide almost 80 inches, Picking the car up at the Victoria and Albert Docks. I found it extremely difficult to pass cars or buses as I could not see past the vehicle in front. My wife Alix had to guide me. …. Ah the joys of Driving.
    Thanks again for a great Blog.

  2. irishroverpei says:

    It would seem we have had a lot in common, both seniors, similar driving experience, military land and sea and writing books! PS — Your wife’s uncle must have been a very smart guy!!! renting a 1956 Rover. Wow, the poor mans Rolls Royce

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